Archive for the 'reference' category

Who's knowledgeable about science, technology, history and literature?

Jul 21 2011 Published by under information literacy, librarianship, reference

Reference librarians, of course!

I'm reading Last Car to Elysian Fields by mystery writer James Lee Burke and came across this rather nice passage on pages 141-142.

So where do you go to find a researcher who is intelligent, imaginative, skilled in the use of computers, devoted to discovering the truth, and knowledgeable about science, technology, history and literature, and who usually works for dirt and gets credit for nothing?

After lunch I drove down to the city library on Main and asked the reference librarian...

And the whole scene in the novel is really very good, as Burke's protagonist Dave Robicheaux and the librarian hunt up some information on a particular blues musician. I really like how the reference interview and how the relentless hunt for more and better information that so obsesses librarians is portrayed.

Burke is a terrific writer, by the way, and all his novels are well worth checking out especially is you like hard boiled/noir crime fiction.

I have noted Burke's love of librarians before.

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Some resources for reference assistant training in a scitech library

Trust me, I really tried to come up with a cool, funny title for this post.


We have a new reference assistant starting here next week. As somewhat typical for such a position, the new staff member has a science subject background rather than a library background. In this case, Maps/GIS.

So I thought it might be a good idea to gather together some resources for helping our new hire get acclimatised to reference work in an academic science & engineering library. After all, we're not born with the ability to do good reference interviews!

With the help of the fine folk in Friendfeed, I've gathered together some very good general sources. As well, I've trawled through the archives from Issues in Science & Technnology Librarianship and Science & Technology Libraries to find some other good articles.

Of course, please feel free to suggest other resources that might be of help in the comments. Anything related to reference or just general life in scitech libraries would be appreciated.



S&TL (Warning: all toll access articles.)


Yeah, this is a ton of reading. The point isn't that someone should memorize every word, most of the the articles probably only need to be scanned. What I'm hoping for is a list of resources that will help someone get acclimatized to reference service and hopefully become aware of many of the main issues around such services in academic libraries. As well, there's a bit in here about some general issues in academic libraries.

Over time I can imagine adding to and pruning the list. As well, I can also imagine highlighting a few key resources with the rest in a more supporting role.

As I said above, suggestions are more than welcome.

Update 2011.07.19. Thanks to DJF on Friendfeed for pointing out the original citation for the Oranges & Peaches item. It's Dewdney, Patricia, and Gillian Michell. 1996. "Oranges and peaches: Understanding communication accidents in the reference interview" RQ 35 (4): 520.

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