Yesterday I “attended” a webcast hosted by Library Journal entitled Authority, Connectivity, and Discovery: The Evolving Role of Reference in the Wiki Age. I was interested because over the past few years, as I rethought the layout of the “old” (aka “pre-fire”) library and how we would do things in the “new” (post-fire) at Hackley, my thoughts about reference materials have changed. I’ve even presented on it:
So, what did we participants learn?
- Reference is mostly for context: an initial point of entry/contact for that topic, helping researchers (formal and not) build keyword lists and get an overview.
- Currency is still very important (because of the role of reference as an entry point)
- Convenience is critical: what are the access points? how do we inform patrons what we have and how to use it?
- We all use Wikipedia – even experienced scholars – and we all understand the risks (I’d argue that in K-12, we teachers tell students the risks but they don’t listen or care!)