Reference Question: Where has Reference Been? Where is Reference Going? (Panel Session)

This was the first session I attended during ACRL 2007. The panel was comprised of Jim Rettig, Jerry Campbell, William Miller, and Brian Matthews. Each speaker shared his thoughts on where reference has been, where it currently is, and what it may be in the future. It was mentioned more than once, that we have been pondering/worrying about the future of reference for a long time .

It was suggested by one of the speakers that we need to get "out of our comfort zones." We loose mind and market share to businesses who create tools (Google) for our users because they see a problem and come in and find a way to solve  the problem (easy way to find information). These disruptive technologies force us to change and experiment which is good…but also challenges some librarians.

Brian Matthews spoke about the new technologies he is using to reach students: Second Life (currently novel and mostly librarians), MySpace (including federated search on profile), Facebook (targeted messages), and blogs/personal journals (use RSS filters to find posts where students describe research difficulty and then make contact with them). Brian's main point was that we need to adapt to survive and it's not all about technology. 

I had higher expectations for this session. I was expecting the content to be different, but what was discussed addressed the questions posed in the session's description. I wanted more about where reference is going. I know that's kind of hard to predict. Brian's portion addressed this to some extent. 

I would recommend reading a more detailed description of this session written by Eric Frierson.

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