What Are Reference Librarians?
Librarians come in all shapes and size. The nearest and dearest to my heart (because I am one) is the reference librarian. They deal directly with patrons and work to answer their questions. Reference librarians are very knowledgeable about the content and organizationof their library’s collections. The next time you are in a library, you will most likely find the resident reference librarian sitting behind the information desk. Some libraries, particularly those at universities, have adopted a roving model where the reference librarian is mobile. The theory is that someone sitting at a desk is less approachable, especially if they seem preoccupied, than someone who is on their feet and looks ready to assist you. You may also encounter a reference librarian online or over the phone. When you submit a question through a library’s website, your email will probably find it’s way to a reference librarian. Some libraries also offer live chat with a librarian and this can be especially helpful when you are trying to figure out how to use online databases. Step by step instructions are much easier to give “live” rather than in an email exchange.
How Can They Help Me?
Reference librarians are an amazing resource for you as you conduct your research. In a research library, a librarian with many years of experience will be able to guide you towards information that you would not have discovered on your own. You may be able to find much of what you need using the library’s online catalog, but only a reference librarian will be able to tell you the insider information. They can tell you how certain materials were acquired, unique ways in which some collections are organized and the best place to start your research.
The reference librarian’s main purpose is to facilitate research. A reference librarian will speed up the discovery process so that you can focus on learning and analyzing rather than searching. They will also be able to steer you in the right direction and help you to narrow down your research topic based on what materials are available. The nice thing is that you get to take advantage of all of their professional experience for free!Any archive or library that you visit will put you in contact with a reference librarian, so use the opportunity to learn from their knowledge. If you establish a good connection with a librarian, they will be even more inclined to go the extra mile for you.
Where Can I Find One?
To contact a reference librarian, find the “contact us”, “submit a question” or similar page on the website of the library that interests you. Most libraries will also have a central information desk so that you can talk to a librarian in person. You can also initiate contact with a phone call, although if you are undertaking a substantial research project, email correspondence will probably be the best way for a librarian to answer you. This way they can take the time to really think through your question and suggest as many appropriate resources as possible. Even if they can’t answer your question, they’ll at least point you in the right direction. What are you waiting for? Get a hold of a reference librarian, we’re here! For those who haven’t been shy about asking for help, how has a reference librarian helped you?