Friday, July 16, 2010

Chapter 12 Reference Service: the Personal Side of Librarianship

David Tyckoson writes that "the reference librarian is the human face of the library"(p.128) and"the reference librarian remains one of the very few professionals that any member of the community may consult on a personal level"(p.134). Whenever I tell people that I am going back to school to be a librarian I am often met with the response "well that will be easy," or "they have degrees for that?" Have they ever given any thought to what a librarian does on a given day?

Growing up I spent a lot of time at our local library. It was a haven to me, a magical place that had floors that creaked, a certain comforting book smell and always seemed to be too hot, even in the winter. Up on the second floor was the children's area nestled in the back behind the fiction section. I loved going up there to find my next treasure. There was a wonderful woman who worked the second floor. I wonder if I ever knew her name. In my childhood innocence she knew everything and held all of the secrets the library had. She could find anything we asked her. It made a lasting impression on me. As I grew older she was still there to help me with research projects for school or finding new books that I might like. Even after all of these years I think of her and the impact she made on me. Her desire to serve, helped me become a lover of books and a life long learner.

As times have changed and technology has made it easier to find information, why am I still drawn to the librarian? I still love the personal connection I have when talking with a librarian. The exchange of ideas, thoughts, and similar pleasures always out win to the coldness of a computer. It takes a unique individual that can balance the traditional and the new. I believe that the role of a librarian is changing but there will always remain the desire for the "personal interaction" (p.145)that Tyckoson talks about.

The job is not as easy as it seems. Who else is called upon at a moments notice and find, locate, and suggest topics that they may know nothing about. What job requires someone to instantly understand a customer's request and fill it? Who else can inspire a child to try a book, even when they "hate to read?" Who is expected to answer technology questions, even if they have no clue as to what they are doing. That is a small chunk of what a librarian is responsible for. I wonder if it seems easy now?

Tyckoson, D. (2008). Reference Service: The Personnal Side of Librarianship. In Haycock, K., Sheldon, B. (Eds.) The Portable MLIS Insights From the Experts (pp.127-146). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

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