Information Access Seminar

Reference Library Service in a Digital Environment

Friday, September 21, 2007
3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Michael Buckland, I School

A valuable feature of the paper-based library is the reference library, with carefully selected resources for answering all kinds of questions. Somehow the reference library seems to have got lost on the way to the digital library environment. A review of the research literature on library reference services reveals a seriously incomplete record with an emphasis on empowering librarians rather than on empowering library users. What would be the characteristics of an ideal reference service in a digital environment?

An opportunity to re-design reference library service for a digital, network environment arises in a new project entitled "Context and relationships: Ireland and Irish Studies" funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities' joint NEH-IMLS Advancing Knowledge program. The challenge is to provide any reader with the best available explanations of names, words, places, events, etc., encountered while reading. This can be done by supporting queries to trusted internet-accessible resources. The Queen's University, Belfast is funded to scan and digitize back-runs of journals in Irish Studies, JSTOR-style. The Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative has been funded to use those texts as a test case for proof-of-concept self-help reference support. More at the project website.

Professor Michael Buckland's interests include online catalogs, library planning, and the social context of information services. His Library Services in Theory and Context, 2nd ed., (Pergamon, 1988), Information and Information Systems (Praeger, 1991), and Redesigning Library Services (ALA, 1992) are indicative of his research concerns.

Last updated:

March 26, 2015