2006 Midwinter Meeting Highlights

COMMITTEE = Reference Services in Public Libraries Discussion Group


CHAIRPERSON = Pamela Morgan

DATES = Sunday, January 22, 2006

EMAIL = pjmorgan@chipublib.org

MEMBERS_PRESENT = Members present: Pamela Morgan

MEMBERS_ABSENT = Members absent: Rekesha Spellman and Deirdre McDonald

VISITORS = Visitors: N/A

OBJECTIVES = To provide a forum for the informal exchange of information and the discussion of issues of mutual interest relating to reference services in public libraries of all sizes.

SUMMARY = Topic: Online Reference beyond Ask a Librarian

Public Libraries promote reference in the online environment by having services such as email or chat reference.  Another way we promote reference is the creation of reference sources such as annotated web links and subject guides.  With the existence of resources such as the Internet Public Library or the Librarians’ Index to the Internet, coupled with the popularity and precision of search engines, what should the future of home-grown reference sources be?

Discussion summary:  Attendance was good, at one point there were 23 people in the room.  Most people agreed that with the advent of collaborative links, public libraries should focus on creating local content, such as obituary files and "get away from creating laundry lists" of links.  Once something local is available digitally, use skyrockets.

Discussion then turned to how librarians keep current on links?  How do people create content?  This morphed into a discussion about content management systems (CMS), wikis and blogs, followed by a lively exchange about librarians' relationship with library IT departments.

There were questions about how public libraries are using technology in the delivery of reference service, e.g. chat, IM, Vocera wireless communication badges, etc.  What sort of technology do we need to support roving reference?  Is chat reference worth the investment?  Is the space where librarians provide virtual reference service separate from the reference desk?

Discussion was good, and afterwards there was networking among attendees.

EVALUATION = Discussion was lively.  Most participants had much to say.  Attendees were interested in hearing about others' experiences and wanted further contact with each other.

PROBLEMS = Due to 2 of the 3 committee members being absent, there was not good notetaking.  It is difficult to take notes and lead a discussion.