Friday, April 20, 2007

Will there still be a desk?

Librarians have been busy this year debating the future of reference. First, a discussion arose at the ALA Midwinter meeting in January about whether libraries should still have a reference desk. Dave Tyckoson, the current president of RUSA, then posed the same question on RUSA's official blog on February 2 ("Ditching the Desk?") and got a few comments, including one that I wrote.

This same debate over the future of the desk came up again at the Reference Symposium held at Columbia University Libraries on March 9 at which it was argued whether or not the reference desk will disappear in five years. At ACRLog, Steven Bell wrote two posts describing his role in the debate in arguing that the desk would indeed be gone:

Another event that sparked a lot of commentary (on blogs and elsewhere) was a panel session on March 30 at the ACRL conference in Baltimore titled "The Reference Question--Where has Reference Been? Where is Reference Going?" Notable coverage included:

Though dated April 20, the piece in the Chronicle of Higher Ed by Scott Carlson actually came out before the blog posts by Brian Matthews and Barbara Fister and is no longer freely available on the Chronicle's web site.

The blog posts all offer a rich set of comments that gave me quite a few ideas, not so much prognostications about the future but instead a vision of how I would like to see our college library's reference desk changed. In my next post, I'll tackle that.

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