A daily diary of actual interactions between a reference desk
librarian and his patrons Reference Librarianship documents a year
in the life of a young librarian working in the "trenches" at a
library in the Midwestern United States. This one-of-a-kind book
provides a daily diary of every librarian/patron transaction-no
matter how mundane or absurd-to demonstrate not only how advances
in technology have affected the reference librarian's job, but how
the public's expectations have changed, as well. The book also
includes observations by a now-retired reference librarian on the
current state of the field based on these unedited interactions.
Over the past two decades, the job of reference librarian has seen
many changes. But in many ways, reference desk work hasn't changed
a bit, with its mix of odd, humorous, routine, and ridiculous
requests that capture what it's like to deal with patrons day after
day. Reference Librarianship paints a clear picture of the field
for library school students, provides emotional and philosophical
support to practitioners, and reminds library administrators of
what life was like on the "front lines." A sampling of the daily
transactions documented in Reference Librarianship: Monday, May 19,
2003: pencil pencil network down I tell people that I can't sign
them up for an Internet terminal because the network is down and
they just stand there, staring into space One of them asks for
three days worth of newspapers microfiche machine explanation
Sorry, Sir, the network is still down (multiply by twenty and
insert randomly into the remainder of the day) magic tricks, but he
pretty much knew where they were One of our large interior plate
glass windows shattered. No one was hurt and it made a fascinating
noise, like a crystal waterfall landing on soil. "Books on
prostitution, you know-whores?" Someone from the County called to
ask if any criminal activity had occurred on a particular street.
Someone else referred her to us. She was dubious-with good reason.
"Math puzzles." Okay. I show him the books. "Just math." Certainly.
I show him the books. "I need them in Spanish." Grrr ... Reference
Librarianship is an enlightening, educational, and entertaining
look at the real world of reference desk work. It's an essential
read for reference librarians (both public and academic), library
administrators, and library school students, as well as anyone who
works with the public.
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