Reference librarians reach out: low tech this time

I wish I had read about this before I wrote last week’s post. Except for walking around the library, all of the means of outreach I wrote about entailed the use of computer technology and electronic communication. Who would have thought of a bicycle?¬† … Continue reading

Reference librarians reach out

A librarian sits at the reference desk. Patrons come to the desk, ask questions, and receive answers. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. I have personally served at busy times with people streaming past the desk in both directions, but not stopping to ask questions. That doesn’t ¬†necessarily mean that none of those people had questions, either. Here’s a story I found on a librarians’ email list: One student at an academic librarian sat at a table asking friends for help as they walked by. He used his cell phone to call friends in other parts of the library. … Continue reading

They asked the librarian what??

Reference librarians are in the business of answering questions, whether helping someone plan a major research project or pointing the way to the drinking fountain. Most questions are pretty routine, but some patrons ask funny questions. They have no idea what they really want, and occasionally appear not even to understand that they’re in a library. Some patrons want a particular book. They just can’t remember the author or the title. They might ask by color, but often as not, they’re wrong about that, too. Here are some memorably funny reference questions, along with the eventual answers. … Continue reading

Helping the reference librarian help you

[ad name=”Google Adsense 468×60″] Do you need help answering a question? Ask a librarian. Specifically, ask a reference librarian. You’ll usually find at least one at the library’s reference desk. Now, some libraries are starting to do away with reference desks as a special service point. In some cases, at least, that means they have decided to have the librarians roam the library, or parts of it, looking for people who need¬† help. If you see a librarian at a desk who seems to be busy with paper work, go ask your question. You will not be interrupting anything important. … Continue reading

Ask a librarian: help the librarian help you

Far beyond the collection, the equipment, or the building, the defining attribute of the library is the presence of librarians. You can ask a librarian how to find what you’re looking for and how to use what you find (catalog, databases, and various equipment). You do not even have to be in the library to ask a librarian a question. You can ask over the phone, by email, by chat, etc. Over the years, librarians have learned that the first question a patron asks is seldom what they really want to know. “I’m looking for books by Mark Twain” seems … Continue reading