Posted by: bluesyemre | March 16, 2015

Reference services in the 21st century by Ryan Scicluna


The debate for the revision of reference services has been going on for quite some time now. Ford (1986) started it all in 1986 by suggesting the unthinkable and encouraging librarians
“to begin to explore alternatives and possibly to eliminate the reference desk ”. As the years progressed, and as a result of a few financial crises,more scholars adopted Ford‟s advice
and went on to argue in favour of new innovative cost-effective reference services away from the physical desk and hinging more towards the digital realm. Some, like Sonntag and Palsson, confidently asserted that “It‟s unquestionably time to eliminate the reference desk ” (Sonntag and Palsson, 2012). However, taking into consideration the persistence of a reference desk in most academic libraries, the idea that reference services are no longer needed can‟t be further from the truth. So why is it that on one hand we have librarians saying that a reference desk has become obsolete while on the other patrons still require assistance from librarians? The answer lies in the nature of the services offered.

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