Reinventing Reference: How Libraries Deliver Value in the Age of Google, edited by Katie Elson Anderson and Vibiana Bowman Cvetkovic, American Library Association, 2015.
Reviewed by Tina Chan
With the advent of Google, people have become more self-sufficient with their information needs. Libraries, however, continue to play a major role with how information is accessed and delivered. This book critically examines trends in reference services, how information is delivered and received, and the influence of reference service by focusing on how various types of libraries have adapted to change. The book is divided into three parts with each chapter authored by librarians and library administrators who attempt to show the role and impact that technology has on reference services in their libraries.
In Part I, an overview of reference is given, including its history, ethics, and the digital library user. Although much is written about the history of libraries, information about the history of reference services is limited and hard to find. The author argues that although the reference tools used to help patrons have changed, the work itself has not as reference librarians continue to connect users to the most appropriate sources. Additionally, reference ethics have changed over time with twenty-first century challenges coming in the areas of access, privacy, and intellectual freedom. Likewise, reference technology has evolved. The author analyzes how computers and the internet have changed the way information is accessed, and how reference service has been transformed in terms of accessibility, service quality, and job satisfaction.
Part II considers the current state of reference services in various types of libraries, including academic, public, school, and special. Each chapter examines issues and offers solutions for each type of library. The state of reference in academic libraries is explored, including the fact that many such libraries no longer have a physical reference desk. Other issues examined are the trends of handhelds and mobile computing, changing student demographics, and self-service access. In public libraries, reference librarians have new roles as trainers and translators of information. Also examined is the changing landscape of print reference. In the chapter investigating reference in school libraries, the authors discuss the effects of virtual libraries and technology. A chapter on the future challenges of reference in academic arts libraries includes topics such as managing budgets, digitizing collections, and increasing collaborations.
Part III explores the near future of reference services by examining emerging technologies and their role in delivering reference service. The book concludes with how reference service has evolved, how it will continue to evolve, and how reference may be delivered in 2052.
Technology has changed librarianship and how library professionals do their work. This book provides insights for library school students, recent library school graduates, library staff, and early career librarians who want to learn more about the evolving role of reference.
Despite living in a world of technology, Reinventing Reference: How Libraries Deliver Value in the Age of Google provides an awareness and appreciation of reference services.