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.
Today Marcia Lei Zeng and Jian Qin are presenting a paper at iConference 2017 in Wuhan, China. We have made a sample chapter from their co-authored book, Metadata, freely available to view and download from the Facet website.
The chapter provides a context for metadata uses in our life and work and a brief history of the metadata movement. It reviews fundamental concepts, including metadata types, categories of metadata standards, and metadata principles. Finally, it presents additional examples of metadata descriptions.
The second edition of Zeng & Qin’s Metadata provides a solid grounding in the variety and interrelationships among different metadata types, offers a comprehensive look at the metadata schemas that exist in the world of library and information science and beyond, as well as the contexts in which they operate.
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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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Guest post by Jane Secker
The second edition of the 2010 book Copyright and E-learning: A guide for practitioners is now available. The book covers the topic that has fascinated me for over a decade and been central to the job I do at LSE: copyright law and its relationship to e-learning or online learning.
This edition of the book benefits from being co-authored by Chris Morrison, who is Copyright Compliance and Licensing Officer at the University of Kent. Chris has not only helped me to improve and update the book, but made the research and writing process more enjoyable. When I first approached Chris to help update the book, I thought that his
unbounded pedantry forensic attention to detail and wealth of knowledge about broader copyright issues might make him a useful proof-reader. I had done a first run through of the book to identify some key areas I wanted to update in light of the Hargreaves Review in 2014 and the new copyright exceptions in UK law. However, overall I felt much of the first edition might remain the same, perhaps with a few changes to take into account new terminology. It quickly became apparent once we started reviewing the content and discussing the book, that we had the opportunity to significantly update it, and make it a far better book. It was also clear I had more than a proof-reader but a co-author. As with any book about technology, 5 years is a long time, and technological developments made much of the contents of some chapters in need of real updating. For example, the term web 2.0 used throughout the first edition, really started to sound very dated.
Much of the intentions behind the first edition remain however. The book is designed to be read by practitioners and so it tries to offer pragmatic advice on a range of topics issues from digitising orphan works, to lecture recordings, the use of social media and MOOCs. We tried to write the book in a jargon-free easily digestible way, to hopefully make it a practical guide for learning technologists, but also teachers, lecturers and other learning support staff in higher education, schools, further education and even in a workplace learning setting, where online learning is used extensively.
Find out more about the book here or read Jane and Chris’ post on the CILIP blog where they provide six practical tips that are important to helping you approach any copyright issue.
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This new book explores critical literacy theory and provides practical guidance to how it can be taught and applied in libraries.
The approach taken in critical literacy is not to read texts in isolation, but to develop an understanding of the cultural, ideological and sociolinguistic contexts in which they are created and read.
The book introduces critical literacy concepts in ways that are accessible to readers who are new to the subject while also appealing to those with greater knowledge by exploring critical literacy from a range of theoretical perspectives and linking these ideas to current debates in information studies.
Critical Literacy for Information Professionals also contains a series of practically-focussed case studies that describe tools or approaches that librarians have used to engage users in critical literacy. Drawing on examples from across library sectors including schools, public libraries, universities, workplaces and healthcare, these illustrate how critical literacy can be applied across a variety of library settings, including online and new media environments.
The book will be essential reading for librarians, information professionals and managers in all sectors, students of library and information science, school and higher education teachers and researchers.