Tagged: reference librarianship

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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