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David Lee King

PLA 2008 Day 1: What Does it Take to be Good at Reference in the Age of Google?



Speaker: Joseph Janes

Title: What Does it Take to be Good at Reference in the Age of Google?

Aside – Sorta humorous – moderator asked us to turn off our cell phones… in THIS session about emerging trends in the age of google! Hee. Probably should have said “put cell phones on mute.”

“we can find things they can’t find” – this is a revelation to many people.

we shouldn’t emphasize ready reference anymore – Google is the rough equivalent of ready reference, and we can’t compete with it.

We can do better than that – we don’t have to answer the dumb questions anymore!

Google does great at orientation

Google is free, quick, easy, and good enough – we can’t beat that!

What Google cannot do:
- not good at gathering – Google does great at finding, but not gathering…
- google doesn’t evaluate, decide, understand, help
- google doesn’t do print (yet)
- doesn’t do fee-based stuff
- google doesn’t have highly sophisticated search (lexis-nexis, etc)
- not part of the community

How to be a good reference librarian in the age of google?
- be a reference librarian
- just not the same one you would have been 10 years ago
- do a good interview – regardless of mode (in person, phone, email, chat, IM, text message, etc)

Know the tricks:
- be more effective searchers
- know all the tricks, advanced features, etc
- know alternatives, when to use it and not to use it

articulate our strengths – we don’t do a good job of that!

(aside – Joe works a couple hours at the desk at the library – that’s cool! My library profs hadn’t worked in libraries for years)

Build tools that help people without direct intervention
- research guides (Cornell vodcasting Research Minutes on YouTube – how to use the library in 90 seconds or less – I need to check these out!)
- use easily understood names for services, tools, etc…
- citation = traffic ticket
- catalog = comes from LandsEnd

Position ourselves and our services as time-savers
- google’s fast, but we can save you time! average time spent searching in Google is 11 minutes! Wow! We are obviously faster than that!
- why search when we can help you find?

Be where they are
- we must be available, positioned, and ready to support, assist, and participate – on their terms

good point – when people ask us questions, it’s because they already tried and failed…

people ask shelvers questions – why? Because they’re there…

what to do:
we can’t beat them on quick, fast, easy, and cheap – we can fight them on quality, depth, education, instruction, literacy, etc
- play on our strengths
- and how they fit in the emerging world

What about print?
- in the short run, it’s a secret weapon – not everyone has access to print!
- they are unique
- in the longer run, they will be slowly decreasing in importance

wikipedia – if you don’t like it, get over it!
- instead of whining about it… do something about it!
- if you don’t vote, don’t complain
- create and edit entries, cite sources, fight for quality, be a positive force (a la learning 2.0)

YouTube
- search for libraries – even funnier – search for “libary”
- make a video!

blogosphere
- have your own, yes, but also participate in community/others

Read blogs of people in your community – and participate by commenting!

Second Life
- it’s a new way to create
- it’s a way to get into the ground floor of a whole new way of creating

Most important – Work Together.

the idea of library has escaped the building
it’s now an extended notion of library – anywhere, anytime, any way in which people interact with information organized, provided, supported by their own community via their library staff.

“We have to be even better online than in person”

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  • http://biblioblawg.blogspot.com/ Meg Kribble

    Sounds like it was a great session. Thanks for the notes!

  • http://biblioblawg.blogspot.com Meg Kribble

    Sounds like it was a great session. Thanks for the notes!

  • http://beccalovesbooks.blogspot.com/ Rebecca

    So….GREAT information, but what do you do when you WANT to communicate and can’t because of work website blockage? Stupid Stupid Stupid!

  • http://beccalovesbooks.blogspot.com Rebecca

    So….GREAT information, but what do you do when you WANT to communicate and can’t because of work website blockage? Stupid Stupid Stupid!

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  • Kathy

    Great summation and you captured his flavor.
    I’m glad I found your comments because Janes did not have a handout.

  • Kathy

    Great summation and you captured his flavor.
    I’m glad I found your comments because Janes did not have a handout.

  • Jeff Imparato

    “We can do better than that. We don’t have to answer the dumb questions anymore.” Well, at least Google doesn’t call them dumb questions. Where is the respect that we’re supposed to have for EVERY question? Yes, it might have been a question that people ask everyday, but it’s still unique to the person asking right then. When patrons ask questions, they are exposing their ignorance, and they don’t need any attitude from us that their question isn’t important.

  • Jeff Imparato

    “We can do better than that. We don’t have to answer the dumb questions anymore.” Well, at least Google doesn’t call them dumb questions. Where is the respect that we’re supposed to have for EVERY question? Yes, it might have been a question that people ask everyday, but it’s still unique to the person asking right then. When patrons ask questions, they are exposing their ignorance, and they don’t need any attitude from us that their question isn’t important.

  • davidleeking

    Jeff, you’re missing Joe’s point. You have a master’s degree – is it put to good use when you show people where the bathroom is or point to a dictionary or help someone find a computer? No, it’s not.

    It’s very similar to other professions – does a doctor weigh you or take your temperature? No – that’s the nurse’s job. The doctor is thus freed up to use his skills and knowledge.

    With Joe’s model, someone else would be set up to answer those types of questions, freeing MLS-types to do things worthy of an advanced degree.

  • davidleeking

    Jeff, you’re missing Joe’s point. You have a master’s degree – is it put to good use when you show people where the bathroom is or point to a dictionary or help someone find a computer? No, it’s not.

    It’s very similar to other professions – does a doctor weigh you or take your temperature? No – that’s the nurse’s job. The doctor is thus freed up to use his skills and knowledge.

    With Joe’s model, someone else would be set up to answer those types of questions, freeing MLS-types to do things worthy of an advanced degree.

  • Jeff Imparato

    David,

    When you’re at a public service desk, please look around. You won’t see a single nurse there, unless that’s what you consider those without MLSs. What you will see is dedicated staff who have been, for over 30 years, integrated into one unit. While we each have specialized knowledge, we all are required to treat each question seriously.

    I don’t have to guess what Joe had to say, I asked him myself, and he said nothing about “dumb questions.” He did say that deeper, richer questions are better suited to professionals. That does not preclude that other questions shouldn’t be answered.

    What would your solution be? Only have those without MLSs work the Public Service desks, and answer what you call the “dumb questions” and have the patron wait for these “nurses” to contact a professional to answer the “richer, deeper question?” In this world of “instant messenging” with instant expectations, do YOU want to wait? and who determines what questions are “dumb?”

    Another solution in your world is for only MLS Professionals to work the desk, and call a non MLS staff member to tell a person where the bathroom is.

    A final solution in your world of “dumb questions” is for a MLS Librarian to work with a non MLS staff member. When a patron ask me, as an MLS Librarian, where the bathroom is, I have to say “Sorry, I can’t answer that, I only answer important questions.”

    Yes, all ridiculous situations.

    The solution we have now, is for everyone at the desk attempt to answer the question, realizing that we certain people on staff who are more suited to address certain questions. Notice I didn’t say only MLSs, because there are many who work the Public Service desks, who have specialized knowledge, such as Reader’s Advisory in certain genres; and those who have a highly specialized knowledge of needlecraft, who are much better suited to give advanced knowledge to the patron.

    As a trained professional for over 25 years, I know there are no “dumb” questions. To believe so shows disrespect to the patron. It is also disrespectful to my co-workers to believe that only MLSs are qualified to answer “richer, deeper” questions.

  • Jeff Imparato

    David,

    When you’re at a public service desk, please look around. You won’t see a single nurse there, unless that’s what you consider those without MLSs. What you will see is dedicated staff who have been, for over 30 years, integrated into one unit. While we each have specialized knowledge, we all are required to treat each question seriously.

    I don’t have to guess what Joe had to say, I asked him myself, and he said nothing about “dumb questions.” He did say that deeper, richer questions are better suited to professionals. That does not preclude that other questions shouldn’t be answered.

    What would your solution be? Only have those without MLSs work the Public Service desks, and answer what you call the “dumb questions” and have the patron wait for these “nurses” to contact a professional to answer the “richer, deeper question?” In this world of “instant messenging” with instant expectations, do YOU want to wait? and who determines what questions are “dumb?”

    Another solution in your world is for only MLS Professionals to work the desk, and call a non MLS staff member to tell a person where the bathroom is.

    A final solution in your world of “dumb questions” is for a MLS Librarian to work with a non MLS staff member. When a patron ask me, as an MLS Librarian, where the bathroom is, I have to say “Sorry, I can’t answer that, I only answer important questions.”

    Yes, all ridiculous situations.

    The solution we have now, is for everyone at the desk attempt to answer the question, realizing that we certain people on staff who are more suited to address certain questions. Notice I didn’t say only MLSs, because there are many who work the Public Service desks, who have specialized knowledge, such as Reader’s Advisory in certain genres; and those who have a highly specialized knowledge of needlecraft, who are much better suited to give advanced knowledge to the patron.

    As a trained professional for over 25 years, I know there are no “dumb” questions. To believe so shows disrespect to the patron. It is also disrespectful to my co-workers to believe that only MLSs are qualified to answer “richer, deeper” questions.

  • davidleeking

    Jeff, please don’t put words into my mouth. This post consists of notes I took from the session – not my words.

    I highly respect everyone who works at our library – degree or no. But part of this session DID talk about how to handle the desk differently – in fact, this was mentioned many times at PLA. And I wrote those notes down. Simple as that.

  • davidleeking

    Jeff, please don’t put words into my mouth. This post consists of notes I took from the session – not my words.

    I highly respect everyone who works at our library – degree or no. But part of this session DID talk about how to handle the desk differently – in fact, this was mentioned many times at PLA. And I wrote those notes down. Simple as that.

  • Jeff Imparato

    Before you say, “But I didn’t say this, Joe did!” I am fully aware that you were just reporting. As Joe also wrote to me “Hi Jeff—I gave up trying to be sure people get my words exactly right a long time ago; in my experience people often hear what they want to.” You heard what you wanted to hear, filtered by your own life experiences, so what do you REALLY believe?

  • Jeff Imparato

    Before you say, “But I didn’t say this, Joe did!” I am fully aware that you were just reporting. As Joe also wrote to me “Hi Jeff—I gave up trying to be sure people get my words exactly right a long time ago; in my experience people often hear what they want to.” You heard what you wanted to hear, filtered by your own life experiences, so what do you REALLY believe?

  • davidleeking

    Jeff – you have an email about that. What do I really believe? I believe what Kathy said, above: “Great summation and you captured his flavor.”

  • davidleeking

    Jeff – you have an email about that. What do I really believe? I believe what Kathy said, above: “Great summation and you captured his flavor.”

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