An essential introduction to reference librarianship and information services for students and professionals

9781783302338Facet Publishing have announced the release of the fourth edition of Kay Ann Cassell and Uma Hiremath’s Reference and Information Services, An introduction.

Designed to complement every introductory library reference course, Reference and Information Services, is the perfect text for students and librarians looking to expand their personal reference knowledge, teaching failsafe methods for identifying important materials by matching specific types of questions to the best available sources, regardless of format.

Guided by an advisory board of educators and practitioners, this thoroughly updated text expertly keeps up with new technologies and practices while remaining grounded in the basics of reference work. Chapters on fundamental concepts, major reference sources, and special topics provide a solid foundation; the text also offers fresh insight on core issues, including:

  • ethics, readers’ advisory, information literacy, and other key aspects of reference librarianship
  • selecting and evaluating reference materials, with strategies for keeping up to date
  • assessing and improving reference services
  • guidance on conducting reference interviews with a range of different library users, including children and young adults
  • a new discussion of reference as programming
  • important special reference topics such as Google search, 24/7 reference, and virtual reference
  • delivering reference services across multiple platforms.

The previous edition was described by Collection Building as, “an irreplaceable source that can be recommended as an essential item for any library’s professional collection”, and by the Journal of Electronic Resources in Medical Libraries as, “A tool for library school students, new librarians, the public library reference desk, or anyone needing a general resource about providing information services and recommended tools of the trade.”

Kay Ann Cassell received her BA from Carnegie Mellon University, her MLS from Rutgers University, and her PhD from the International University for Graduate Studies. She has worked in academic libraries and public libraries as a reference librarian and as a library director. Ms. Cassell is a past president of Reference and User Services Association of ALA and is active on ALA and RUSA committees. She is the editor of the journal Collection Building and is the author of numerous articles and books on collection development and reference service. She was formerly the Associate Director of Collections and Services for the Branch Libraries of the New York Public Library where she was in charge of collection development and age-level services for the Branch Libraries. She is now a Lecturer and Director of the MLIS Program in the School of Communication, Information and Library Studies at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

Uma Hiremath is Executive Director at the Ames Free Library, Massachusetts. She was Assistant Director at the Thayer Public Library, Massachusetts; Head of Reference at the West Orange Public Library, New Jersey; and Supervising Librarian at the New York Public Library where she worked for five years. She received her MLS from Pratt Institute, New York, and her PhD in political science at the University of Pittsburgh.

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Why reference librarianship is more important than ever – interview with Kay Ann Cassell and Uma Hiremath

An integral resource for students and working professionals alike, Reference and Information Services: An introduction has served a whole generation of reference librarians. But authors Kay Ann Cassell and Uma Hiremath aren’t resting on their laurels. We spoke to them about the brand new fourth edition, discussing their collaboration and why reference librarianship is more important than ever.

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How would you describe your collaborative process?

Harmonic! When we are beginning a new edition, we talk about the whole book and the changes that we want to make and then we each work on specific chapters. With Kay as an academic and Uma as a practitioner, we have mutually exclusive areas of expertise that makes it easy to segment the research.

Were there any surprises working together this time around?

Nah! After more than a decade of working together, we share an easy rhythm. Our conversations help further ideas, challenge or strengthen assumptions, and clarify doubts.9781783302338

How has virtual reference made things easier and how has it made things harder?

Entire books have been written on this. Suffice to say, the very factors about virtual reference that make things easier tend to make them harder as well. It is easier since the user and librarian can be anywhere and still able to communicate about both the question and the answer.  Anytime/anywhere access to information, at the point of need, is certainly the defining advantage of virtual reference.

Virtual access, however, has an abracadabra quality. The user learns less about the incremental steps to finding an answer provided in face-to-face interactions so that, in effect, for every research question the user starts from scratch. Anytime access also requires the reference librarian’s constant attention to connectivity issues so critical to its success.

What are some suggestions for keeping up to date on reference sources, both as an individual and an institution?

There are many ways to stay up to date, both formal and interpersonal.  Let us count the ways.

  • Habitual reading of professional literature
  • Attending conferences with exhibits by vendors
  • Participating in webinars
  • Routinely discussing information on new resources with colleagues
  • Being alert to feedback from users
  • Joining listervs that discuss reference materials
  • Following pertinent blogs, twitter accounts, newsletters, websites
  • Being an alert member of professional association.

Trustworthy, fact-based reference materials are more important than ever. How would you ethically handle a situation if you discovered that a library user was relying on sources that were questionable?

The use of questionable sources by users is something reference librarians face every day. It is, in fact, what makes reference librarianship so integral to good research! Reference librarians have always combated it by providing considered alternatives. Talking to users about the value of vetted resources and helping them understand the difference in authority and accuracy between a vetted resource and unfiltered Google results or social media discussions, is par for the course.

A more intractable challenge is the viral spread of misinformation in a hyper-networked world. Proactive measures to encourage digital literacy and critical thinking in users, such as those parsed so effectively in the Information Literacy poster available at ALA, is essential.

If you could give today’s LIS students one piece of advice, what would it be?

Kay Ann Cassell: Always be sure the information you use online is accurate and up-to-date.  That means that if it is the first time you are using a site, you must evaluate it.

Uma Hiremath: Reference librarianship is a way of life. You never stop learning and you never stop finding the next best referral for your users.

The fourth edition of Reference and Information Services: An introduction will be published in June by Facet Publishing.

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75% off The Chief Data Officer’s Playbook

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The Chief Data Officer’s Playbook is the best overall resource available for CDOs and their teams. The release of this book is perfectly timed. The CDO Club tracks CDO hires globally, and last year alone the number of new CDO hires quintupled. The Playbook is a compendium of essential knowledge anyone operating in the current data environment must have.
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Preservation Week Roundup

Preservation

All last week we participated in Preservation Week, an initiative of ALCTS to promote the role of libraries in preserving personal and public collections and treasures.

We asked some of our authors 3 preservation questions and published the answers throughout the week. We also republished a classic blogpost by Michele Cloonan on human rights, cultural genocide and the persistence of preservation.

The 3 preservation questions that we asked were;

1. Why is preservation awareness so important?

2. What are some ways that libraries and archives can reach out to communities about the importance of preservation?

3. Digital collections are growing fast, and their formats are prone to obsolescence. What are some current or proposed digital collection initiatives from cultural institutions that give you hope for the future?

We have collected all our posts from Preservation Week in one handy list below:

3 Preservation Questions: Helen Forde and Jonathan Rhys-Lewis (co- authors of Preserving our Heritage)

3 Preservation Questions: Walker Sampson (co-author of The No-nonsense Guide to Born-digital)

3 Preservation Questions: Janet Anderson and David Anderson (co-editors of Preserving Complex Digital Objects)

3 Preservation Questions: Michele Cloonan (editor of Preserving our Heritage)

The Persistence of Preservation by Michele Cloonan.

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The Persistence of Preservation

To finish up Preservation Week we’ve got a re-post of an article that Michele Cloonan wrote for CILIP in 2016 about the destruction of cultural heritage.

800px-Temple_of_Baal-Shamin,_Palmyra

The title of a recent book by Alicia Ely Yamin, Power, Suffering, and the Struggle for Dignity: Human Rights Frameworks for Health and Why They Matter (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015), caught my eye. The book focuses on human-rights-based approaches to health and development. “The ultimate concern” of the book, to quote from the publisher’s blurb, “is to promote movement from analysis to action, so that we can begin to use human rights frameworks to effect meaningful social change in global health, and beyond.” Could the phrase “preservation of cultural heritage” be substituted in the title of a hypothetically titled parallel book?

Most of us don’t equate preservation with human rights

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While most of us don’t equate preservation with human rights, the relationship has been touched on at least as early as the nineteenth century—although the destruction of cultural heritage has taken place for as long as there has been heritage. In the nineteenth century the concept of human rights was considered in the context of war. Swiss businessman and reformer Henri Dunant was an organiser of the First Geneva Conference for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded Armies in the Field (1863-64) and a founder of the Red Cross (see his Memory of Solferino [Geneva, Switzerland: International Committee of the Red Cross, 1986]).

At just about the same time as these activities were taking place in Europe, Francis Lieber, a German jurist who settled in the United States, prepared for the Union Army General Orders No. 100: Instructions for the Government of the Armies of the United States in the Field, better known as the Lieber Code; it established rules for the humane treatment of civilians in areas of conflict and forbade the execution of prisoners of war. Further it sought the protection of works of art, scientific collections, and hospitals in war-torn areas. These ideas were further developed in the Hague Peace Conferences that were held from 1899-1907 and in the later Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954 and the 1999 Second Protocol). Excerpts of these codes, conventions, and protocols are included in chapter 9 of my Preserving Our Heritage: Perspectives from Antiquity to the Digital Age (London: Facet, 2015).

Why can’t we protect cultural heritage?

Giant standing Buddhas of Bamiyan still cast shadows

Since the publication of my book—and as armed conflicts in the Middle East have escalated, and countless works of heritage continue to be destroyed—I have found myself continuing to think about the relationship between human rights and preservation. Why can’t we protect cultural heritage? It is not that international efforts haven’t been made; International Humanitarian Law seeks to balance humanitarian concerns with military necessity. Yet over and over again the world watches as cultural heritage is destroyed—often in dramatic and defiant ways. Most of the perpetrators will never be charged, let alone tried.

This destruction is sometimes described as cultural genocide. The term genocide was coined by jurist and human rights advocate Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959). It is based on the Greek word genos (race, tribe) and the Latin caedere (killing). (See his 1944 book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation, Analysis of Government, Proposals for Redress, 2nd ed. [Clark, NJ: The Lawbook Exchange, 2008, pp. 79-95.) He meant for genocide to correspond to such words as homicide, infanticide, fratricide, and so on. In Axis Rule Lemkin identified eight components of genocide, which he reduced to three when he was campaigning for a Genocide Convention: physical, biological, and cultural.

Significantly, for Lemkin the term referred to human massacre as well as the destruction of a people’s art and culture. In other words, genocide represented crimes against humans as well as humanity. Lemkin was determined that genocide be adopted by the United Nations as the word to describe these crimes. And it was, in The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948). However, for reasons that I explain in my forthcoming book, Monumental Preservation, the term was defined more narrowly to refer only to mass killings and not the often concomitant crime of destroying the culture of the vanquished people. Since the framing of that U.N. document, and after Lemkin’s death, the term cultural genocide was coined to refer to the destruction of cultural heritage.

Cultural genocide is not yet recognised in international law

Cultural genocide per se is not yet recognised in international law. Yet that is beginning to change as international courts are recognizing that physical and biological attacks are often carried out in concert with the destruction of religious and/or cultural property (see Shamiran Mako, “Cultural Genocide and Key International Instruments: Framing the Indigenous Experience,” International Journal on Minority and Group Rights 19 [2012]: 175-94, about post WWII efforts to acknowledge the rights of indigenous peoples). It is probably only a matter of time before a case involving cultural genocide is successfully tried.

However, international laws will never stop the seemingly ongoing destruction of heritage sites. Nor will “soft power,” the attempt by organisations such as UNESCO “to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures, and peoples, based on respect for commonly shared values” (see the UNESCO website). And what if there are not always shared values? UNESCO has been criticised for promoting Western—even European—notions of heritage in the non-western world (e.g., Rodney Harrison, Heritage:Critical Approaches [London: Routledge, 2013]).

What if the group that sets out to destroy cultural heritage creates its own grand narrative about the importance of that destruction? For example, if one group seeks to impose its identity on another by destroying the culture of the vanquished group? Has UNESCO framed the notion of universally shared heritage in the most effective way? Every new country, era, civilization is the accretion of everything tangible and intangible that has come before. It will almost never be possible to completely vanquish that which has come before us.

Perhaps we can model preservation itself in a more nuanced way. Below are some of the motivations and behaviors associated with preservation, as well as some emerging approaches to preservation.

Motivations

  • Legal
  • Corporate (profit motive, e.g. Facebook, Inc.)
  • Corporate (legacy/history/pride/archives/records/memory)
  • Patriotic
  • Religious
  • Propagandistic
  • Governmental
  • Social [as distinct from cultural]
  • Personal (preserving family papers, mementos)
  • Administrative (legal or political mandate)
  • Deterministic (preservation as destiny)
  • Matriarchal/Patriarchal
  • Stewardship
  • Scholarly/academic
  • Save what we can profit most by
  • [Or destroy, for almost all of the above reasons]

Behaviours

  • Imperialist (we came, we saw, we conquered, we appropriated/expropriated cultural heritage objects)
  • Hording or clean-sweep approach: save everything you can
  • Last-ditch effort: save anything you can (war-time approach, or in historic preservation, wrecking-ball approach)
  • Save last copies
  • People’s choice: save the best (“doxa” or popular opinion)
  • Judgmental: save according to carefully delineated criteria
  • Elitist: we save what should be saved & for whom it should be saved
  • Principle of Least Effort : we won’t bother with it until we have to. (Or, we will save only that which has already deteriorated.)
  • Benign neglect (perhaps less intentional than the Principle of Least Effort)
  • Administrative: save what must be saved
  • Pragmatic: save at a measured rate
  • Stewardship: we have a responsibility to save
  • Save: but we continue to use it—and museums must understand that
  • Don’t save: it has fulfilled its earthly purpose
  • Don’t save: its survival is anathema to our beliefs
  • Don’t save: we have a right to destroy it

Emerging

  • Social networking: positive and negative (records destruction and promotes propaganda)
  • Personal Information Management (PIM)
  • Attempt to create true digital preservation
  • Reformatting into the future best forms of “preservation” for specific kind of data audiences
  • Enhanced tools for documentation
  • New tools for community engagement and outreach
  • [For example, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear 3/11/11 disaster, in which citizens
  • recovered thousands of photographs on land and in the water, and put them up on the web. In some instances families and their photos have been reunited.] These are some of the ways in which I have tried to situate preservation on the global stage. I welcome your feedback about other ways in which we can think about the role of preservation in our lives.

These are some of the ways in which I have tried to situate preservation on the global stage. I welcome your feedback about other ways in which we can think about the role of preservation in our lives.

Michele Valerie Cloonan is Dean Emerita and Professor at the Graduate School of Library & Information Science, Simmons College.9781856049467

You can find out more about Michele’s book, Preserving our Heritage, here.

Follow Preservation Week on Twitter using the hashtag  and look out for our other author interviews that we will be releasing throughout the week.

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References

Image sources:

henry-dunant-francis-lieber.jpg” by CILIP is used under CC BY-SA 2.0. It is a derivative of the following works:

Giant standing Buddhas of Bamiyan still cast shadows [Image 2 of 8]” by DVIDSHUB, used under CC BY 2.0 / original cropped and resized