This week, I completed work on a guide to reference services that was commissioned by the Metropolitan Library Council of New York. Originally, I was asked to create a guide to digital reference, but lately I’ve been feeling less inclined to carve out a unique space for “digital reference” in the larger sphere of reference services. More and more, I think of any question answering libraries do as reference and try not to get too hung on distinctions that mean less and less and online reference services have become commonplace and the cross-referrals between online and physical service points are de rigeur.Libraries have mostly moved past the era of creating separate, cutesy brand names for the IM or chat reference services and now just present a raft of service options under the rubric of “Ask Us” or “Ask a Librarian.”
This guide is meant to appeal to libraries of all types, although some might see a bias toward the needs of academic libraries. If you have any suggestions about links or changes in terminology that would broaden the appeal the guide, I’d love hear about them.