Monday, April 2, 2007

How much do you love your reference desk

Here's a nice post by Steven Bell and Sarah Watstein about their debate over the future of the reference desk. I'm pro reference desk, myself, but I feel I should own up to my decided traditionalist tendencies so that it's clear where I'm coming from on this. I am rather stuck on the idea of a place where you can reliably find help if you need it, that keeps regular hours and is staffed by helpful and (usually) friendly people. I wouldn't say that the traditional reference desk isn't problematic - I sit on one side and my patron on the other, a physical embodiment and emphasis of the librarian ("expert") - patron ("non-expert") relationship that I'm not entirely comfortable with. I worry that some of our more imposing desks may project an "I know what I'm talking about and you don't" aura that could scare people off.

Still, one of the things that IMing is teaching me is that very few of my days follow any standard schedule, and that if people want to find me at work, the reference desk, where I work regularly from 11-1:00 on Tuesdays and 5-8 on Thursdays, is usually their best bet unless they call ahead.

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