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.
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?
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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This post was originally posted on the ALA Editions blog.
The first edition of Peggy Johnson’s text Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management was published in 2004. Needless to say a whole lot has changed in the last 14 years, and Johnson has kept updating and revising her book to keep current with the field. On the occasion of the publication of the new fourth edition, we spoke with her about her writing process, what’s important for today’s LIS graduates, and what lies ahead.
So, you’ve just published the fourth edition of your book! Congratulations! What were some of the differences working on the project this time around? And what have you learned over the years that you wish you’d known from the beginning?
The process of research and writing I follow is basically the same as when I worked on the first edition. However, locating resources continues to get easier with full text online indexes and Google Scholar available. I still spend a lot of time verifying details. I confess I continue to print articles and borrow print books through interlibrary loan. I’ve tried keeping only digital files, but it doesn’t work for me. I need tangible copies I can hold and organize. One thing I wish I’d known earlier is how willing librarians and others in the field are to help. With this edition, I reached out to nearly fifty people, all of whom graciously answered my questions and offered advice.
Describe your writing and revision process—is it all electronic, or do you print out some drafts and go to work with a red pencil?
I’ve always written on the computer, but I do print each chapter about halfway through the writing so I can spread it out on my desk and move parts around. As I write a chapter, I create an detailed outline aiming to have a logical progression. Many of the writing techniques I learned in elementary school remain useful, although I don’t take notes on 3X5 cards. Once a chapter is nearly complete, I do the polishing on the electronic file.
Let’s say an LIS student approaches you for career advice. After getting that degree, what are some important first steps to take?
I always tell students to get library experience either through in internship or a practicum while in school. Employers look for some familiarity with the real world even when hiring recent LIS graduates. Involvement with professional organizations is important both because of the learning opportunities and because of the contacts made. New librarians seldom realize what a small world the library field is—building a network of support and potential references is critical.
Are vendor relations such as purchasing and licensing materials getting easier or more difficult? Why?
I think vendor relations are more complex. I added a chapter in this edition on vendor relations, negotiation, and contracts in part because library school faculty members and collection development librarians requested it. Once you understand that vendors are trained in selling and promoting their products and especially in negotiating effectively, you realize that librarians need parallel skills. Being aware of all the variables (and there are many) that go into making the best selection choice for your library is more important than ever. Even librarians who don’t make the final choices need to understand the issues and why decisions are made.
What’s the most surprising trend in the field of collection development and management? How do you see this discipline evolving over the next 5-10 years?
I first became interested in 1980s in what we were then calling machine readable data files (MRDFs). It seemed obvious that they were going to have a significant and ever-increasing effect on library collections and services, so I can’t say I’ve been surprised by the role digital content plays in today’s libraries. Perhaps the wide-spread participation in consortial buying by all types of libraries might be considered surprising, but I’d say it’s a logical progression that began with consortial resource sharing. May be one development that is, indeed, surprising is the extent to which publishers are selling directly to libraries. Not too long ago, libraries relied on intermediaries (jobbers, vendors, and agents) because publishers didn’t want to deal with selling, invoicing, and shipping individual titles. Packages of titles (both e-journals and e-books) have changed the business model and made publishers major players. As far as that goes, I’m guessing that few librarians could foresee the extent to which libraries now purchase lrge packages of titles. I’m always leery of projecting the future—it is too easy to be wrong. That said, I think that the importance of managing legacy print collections will continue to grow and, I hope, we will see the development and implementation of national preservation and retention plans.
Tomorrow sees the start of the iConference 2017 in Wuhan, China. To mark this, we are making some selected chapters from our information science textbooks freely available to view and download from the Facet Publishing website. The first is taken from David Bawden and Lyn Robinson’s seminal Introduction to Information Science.
The chapter, What is information science? Disciplines and professions, covers:
- The nature of information science
- What kind of discipline is information science?
- Constituents and core
- Other information disciplines
- The uniqueness of information science
- History of information science.
Introduction to Information Science has been described as “the best introduction to information science available at present” (Birger Hjorland, Royal School of Library and Information Science) and “one of the very best places for people to start to make a difference.” (Jonathan Furner, UCLA).
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Preserving our Heritage: Perspectives from antiquity to the digital age by Michele V Cloonan is the recipient of the 2016 Society of American Archivists’ Preservation Publication Award.
The book offers a unique compilation of key texts from a range of international contributors, charting the development of preservation from its origins to modern day practice and offers an overview of longevity, reversibility, enduring value and authenticity of information preservation.
The Awards Committee said “Preserving Our Heritage is undeniably a monumental achievement and a welcome contribution to the bookshelves of preservation professionals everywhere”.
Established in 1993, the SAA Preservation Publication Award recognises and acknowledges the author or editor of an outstanding published work related to archives preservation and, through this acknowledgement, encourages outstanding achievement by others.
Facet Publishing have announced the release of Barbara Allan’s latest book, Emerging Strategies for Supporting Student Learning.
It is both an exciting and challenging time to be working in higher education as the sector experiences rapid changes including: an increasingly diverse student population with evloving expectations; changes in technology such as the rise in the use of social media; increased emphasis on employability and internationalization; development of new social learning spaces; as well as an ever-decreasing resource base. As a result of these changes, new approaches to supporting student learning are developing rapidly.
In the past five years, developments in both the theory and practice of learning and teaching have created a complex landscape which it is sometimes difficult to navigate. Emerging Strategies for Supporting Student Learning provides practical guidance and brings together theory and practice in an accessible style. The book covers a wide range of tools and techniques (relevant to face-to-face, blended learning and online practices) which will suit students in different contexts from large groups of 500+ to very small classes of research students.
Making extensive use of case studies, examples, checklists and tables, the book covers key topics including, digital literacies, working with diversity, employability and designing, delivering and evaluating learning and teaching activities.
Author Barbara Allan said, “In writing this book, I wanted to capture the many different ways in which information professionals are supporting student learning in a time of rapid change. As ideas about learning and teaching have changed, so have professional practices which involve supporting students online, in social learning spaces, the library, as well as in classrooms. Practitioners use a variety of technologies ranging from their institution’s virtual learning environment through to social media. The relationships between students and information professionals is changing and the idea of ‘students as co-crea
tors’ is producing new forms of working together. Overall, this is an exciting (although challenging) time to be supporting student learning and this book explores current practices.”
Emerging Strategies for Supporting Student Learning will be essential reading for different groups working in colleges and universities such as library and information workers, staff developers, educational technologists, educational development project workers, educational change agents and students of library and information science who are planning their careers in higher education institutions.
Find out more: http://www.facetpublishing.co.uk/title.php?id=300709
In this blog, Barbara Allan talks about why she wrote her new book, Emerging Strategies for Supporting Student Learning
Why did you want to write a book on ‘Emerging strategies for supporting student learning’? A colleague asked me this question a few weeks ago and it prompted me into reflecting on my motivation for writing my new book.
Thinking about it made me realise how much I enjoy the process of writing a book and, in part, this is because I am very nosy. Higher education is under huge pressures at the moment and as a result many universities and colleges are going through radical change processes. In some instances, the whole undergraduate curriculum has been redesigned and redeveloped to bring it into line with the needs of current students and their future employers. In many institutions, everyone is expected to do ‘more with less’ and teams and individuals have risen to this challenge by introducing fascinating innovations to their approaches to learning and teaching. Sometimes, these changes have been supported through technology while others have involved working in new ways with colleagues from across their university or college. At the same time, new theories about digital and information literacy continue to develop.
Writing a book gave me an excuse (not that I really needed one) to explore current practices in supporting student learning in universities and colleges. This meant that I found time to talk to colleagues, visit institutions, constantly search on-line for new developments and innovations, as well as articles, and also network through conferences and professional events. One of the highlights of my research was my visit to the annual international LILAC conference in Newcastle in 2015. This friendly and accessible conference provided so many opportunities to listen to and talk with practitioners representing many different types of institution from across the world. Their online archive provided a great resource when I came to writing the book. The conference also gave me the opportunity to join a tour of the historical Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society (the Lit and Phil – http://www.litandphil.org.uk) which is home to many scholars and authors.
Finally, I enjoy the process of putting it all together – the practice and the theory – rather like a giant jigsaw. Only, in this case, some of the pieces over-lapped and others were contradictory. I was fortunate enough to do much of the writing in Whitby and so enjoyed long walks whenever I got stuck or needed to think through my findings. Puzzling through my research and making sense of it was intellectually challenging and helped me to understand the current status of supporting student learning in higher education. It also made me realise how vibrant is the library and information profession and the willingness of colleagues to change and innovate.