Monday, September 27, 2010

Analysis of "Reflections of a Reference Librarian" article

Information Sources and Services course discussion

At the end of Susan J. Beck’s role as president of RUSA (Reference and User Services Association), she wrote this article to reflect on why she became a reference librarian. Beck begins by stating that she is “over fifty and have been a reference librarian since 1980 – you do the math.” With this length of experience, she states, with a humorous angle that the main questions asked by a reference librarian are “Where is the pencil sharpener? Where is the photocopier, and how much do the copies cost? Where are the restrooms?” Beck’s list of questions are just a beginning to the root of her being a reference librarian; “a polite, friendly, and quick response” is what is essential for any questions a reference librarian receives. This helps build a relationship between patron and reference librarian (305).

Beck says that she “became a librarian because I loved solitary studying in libraries while a college student. The library, as a place, was very comforting to me” (305). Beck explains how the library was easily accessible and full of options for reading. She states that this is why “I am so fascinated by searching the Web.” She mentions that during her time as a student she rarely used the reference librarian as a source of assistance when writing the papers for her history, political science, and education courses. When she became a grad student, however, she used the reference librarians more often and found them “always friendly and helpful. I do not ever remember leaving the reference desk without knowing where I was going next. I was a happy and satisfied user.” After that, Beck decided to go to library school because it “just made so much sense.” She loved the libraries all the time she was a student and she loved just being in the library (306).

Once Beck was a library student, she felt intimidated by the reference librarians. She felt that as a library student, the reference librarians would think she should already know the answers to her questions. She felt as if she should learn the answers on her own and that the librarians would be testy about answering her questions. “Why is there always that tension between library school student and reference librarians?” Beck was asked this question at a presentation and her answer was, “Please do ask the librarians as much questions as you can and on every occasion that you need to!” Beck believes that this exchange between the professional librarian and the student must be used as a teaching tool. Beck even mentions how her “greatest influences have been my colleagues” (306).

Beck is also influenced by library literature and she even encourages librarians to keep articles that they find extremely useful. Her lists for important articles include Benson and Maloney’s “Principles of Searching”, Carol Tenopir’s “Online Database” columns in Library Journal, as well as Dewney and Michell’s “Oranges and Peaches: Understanding Communication Accidents in the Reference Interview.” Beck states that the Benson and Maloney article includes steps for conducting the reference interview, “Clarify the question (the interview), Establish search parameters…, Identify sources to be searched, Translate the question into the language of each source, Conduct the search, and Deliver the information.” Beck mentions how this is a simple and effective way of conducting the reference interview and it has been a basic formula to use. Beck also asserts that, “Did I completely answer your question?” should be inserted at the end of the reference interview. If the answer is “no” then the librarian should start over until they give a satisfactory answer (307).

Beck’s article is important for someone planning to become a reference librarian because Beck has been a reference librarian for a number of years. She really enjoys her job and has great insight and good tips for students and professionals. I’m glad to see that she mentioned that “Oranges and Peaches” article as I was asked to read that during my studies as well. This article gave me a bit more of a clear knowledge of what the reference librarian’s main job skills is. I like that she included that we are to answer questions with a friendly and eager manner in order to insure a closer relationship between patron and librarian. I vaguely remember using the reference librarian as an English major in my undergrad years and I was always fascinated by how the librarian had the keys to all that knowledge.

Beck, like Mark Anderson-Wilk who wrote my article #2 choice, also encourages the use Google Scholar which I was only introduced to as a community college teacher earlier this year. I like that the reference librarian’s job is to keep up with new ways of doing searches, but also needs a cataloging skill (something Beck is sad to see go in the recent reference librarian training.) I am also encouraged by Beck’s affirmation that we should make a point to go to workshops at least once a year. She mentions that even though the library may not be able to pay for it, you should save up and go at least once a year. This will help you network with other librarians and learn the most modern techniques for finding information.

I like Beck’s personal touch to the article. It made it much easier to read and was less clinical as other articles such as the Anderson-Wilk article I’ll use for next time. There was less jargon and if it was used, it was explained. You can tell that Beck is very enthusiastic about her career and she encouraged new reference librarians to pursue their new career with vigor and education. Her tips on using your available sources such as colleges, other librarians, library literature and workshops are important for new librarians to take note of. Also her listing the steps to the reference interview is something we should all keep on hand, including the articles she mentioned. I really liked this article and it made me more interested in a career in reference librarianship. I love that Beck concludes her article with her email address and a request for anyone who reads her article to contact her. Again, it’s a nice, personal touch.

Work Cited

Beck, Susan J. "Reflections of a Reference Librarian." Reference & User Services Quarterly 49.4

(2010): 305-309. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. EBSCO. Web. 26 Sept. 2010.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Analysis for YA Book Shelf

Children’s Literature class discussion

I’ve been checking out YA Book Shelf for a while now. I started chatting with the blog author on Twitter when I started studying the YA Books for my Collection Development class. She (Melissa) always has lots of interesting book contests that intrigues her readers. She’s very well read and gives great insight and suggestions on new and old (classic) books to read. As you can see from her most recent post on the YA novel Hush, Hush she really tries to get involved in her own review of the book as well as how it is received in the public. You can tell that she really loves what she does and reading her posts you can see what new books are coming up, including events online regarding books. She’s very willing to discuss the books with you. She has a very modern website and includes all sorts of links plus book trailers if anyone wants to see more examples. This website really inspired me to create my blog that I started and will now use for my class book reviews.

In other news:  9 days left until the wedding!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Definition of Reference

Information Sources and Services class discussion

Reference:  direct personal assistance gathered from a reference source that is tailored to the unique needs of each individual client that can be in a formal or informal instruction-based transactions.

I have witnessed the Reference Librarian at work when I was in my Practicum library over the summer.  I wasn't aware that the Reference Librarian was also the instructor in charge.  It caused a bit of a problem when patrons needed Reference assistance and the Reference was busy teaching a class.  Having the Reference librarian teach, as is with any class situation, there is an overall group instruction but they still have individual needs that must be addressed.  I think the most prominent service of the Reference Desk is that individual attention.

Bopp, Richard E. and Smith, Linda C. Reference and Information Services: An Introduction, Third Edition. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 2001.

"Definitions of Reference," American Library Association, September 29, 2008. (Accessed September 07, 2010)


Also while looking at, I found

Monday, September 6, 2010

Homework for September

Classes have started as of last week and I’ve been getting myself acquainted with my classes.  This Fall term I have Children’s and YA Literature as well as Information Sources and Services.  For Children’s Lit I pick books from suggested lists and create blog posts about them.  I’ve decided to use my attempted blog project at Unfinished Book Reviews to create such posts.  For Info Resources, I’m learning about becoming a Reference Librarian.  Both classes are extremely beneficial because I really don’t know what kind of librarian I’ll become.  When I was asked what track I was going to be on for the program, I told them I had no intention of choosing a track yet because how do I know where I’ll end up? 

When it comes to finding a job, especially once I’ve moved, I’ll have to start working where ever I land a job and then work my way up through experience.  That may be at a Public Library or a University Library.  I’m not singling anything out right now because I really feel like a fish out of water in this career.  Granted, when I started interning, I was interested in how the library worked and I felt like I could do a good job in such a position.  I was just disappointed with the Public Libraries running the risk of being shut down so easily.  So, again, the job that lands in my lap will be the one I take on.

Granted, my English Lit. background is helpful and I do miss that kind of discussion in the classroom.  But I could always end up a Reference Librarian and running Book Clubs and computer classes.  I’ve looked at more English Lit. graduate programs but I’m not sure I want to get into that again.  The pretention of English majors (generally speaking – if you’re an English major you know what I’m talking about) is just not an arena I think I can get back into.  Feeling superior because I’ve read big books was fine when I was 20.  Now that I have a new focus in life, I’m not sure I have any interest in that aspect of the field again. 

As for teaching, yes I loved teaching Comm II.  I loved going to college and I loved teaching at college for the same reasons - I can get prepared, have my class and walk out of the room.  There’s no being stuck in a tiny room with 20-30 other people all day.  But teaching at the college doesn’t pay anything unless you’re tenured.  At the community college level they tell you that teaching high school is a better bet for money and benefits.  Since I don’t have an Education degree my problems that I had as a new teacher will continue on no matter where I go in the US.  I would still have to go to school to get teacher status in the UK.  So that would be 40+ hours of work with planning, being stuck at the school for 8 hours, then doing after school activities, meetings then going to my own classes?  Nope.  I will be a wife and want to be at home with my husband.  Having this library degree and going to work each day and working my way up to gain experience is my best bet.

But then again I may not find any kind of job other than secretary or a salesgirl at the mall.  Whatever, as long as I’m bringing home a pay check.

Since this blog was made primarily for library entries, I created a personal blog that I can email entries to.  Yes, yes Wordpress has the capability of email posts and there are apps but I really need to scale things down.  I’m not going to have this iPhone for much longer so I needed to make something I can update easily on the fly.  I won’t even go into how much this iPhone drives me crazy now.  It was fine for a year but now after the updates nothing works right; the camera is slow, it randomly reboots, apps won’t load, calls can’t be made, texts can’t be sent, touchscreen freezes…  I’m going to go the used Blackberry from Ebay route for a while until I can get a Droid or something. 

And on my final and most exciting note:  the wedding is in two weeks!  I’m so excited but blissfully calm all at the same time.  Having a small, private wedding is such a much better option.  There was enough hassle in finding the dress that I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to set up a big wedding party.  I’m just happy to be with Steve for our special day.