Wednesday, May 4, 2011

If Reference is Dead Why Am I So Tired at the End of the Day?

"If Reference is Dead Why Am I So Tired at the End of the Day?" Closed Stacks / The Librarienne.
America: Closed, May 2nd 2011.

"Reference can’t be dead because when I’m on the reference desk, I rarely have a moment’s reprieve.  I’m the young one, and also a distance runner, but I often go home exhausted. If people are using the reference desk, who are we to decide that it’s no longer needed?  Yes, our role is evolving, but it has always done that, and will always do that.  Saying our core function is no longer needed is not something we get to do–that’s up to the library users.
The biggest argument against the reference desk is that people are tech-savvier and don’t need our help as much. Ok, that’s fair, but with increased access to information comes the increased need to filter out good information from bad.  That’s always been our job. ... 
Also, let us not forget that many public library patrons are not tech savvy at all.  Twenty percent of people do not have a computer at home, and the bulk of library users probably grew up with keyboarding and typing classes rather than computer classes.  We’re supposed to be breaking down the digital divide and enabling people to access technology, not shutting them out because they’re not savvy enough to use the library anymore.  Ever seen an old man pick up a computer mouse and aim it at the screen like a remote control?  I have, and I don’t think it’s rude to say that that man will not be taking advantage of ebook downloads."