Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

A Personal Choice: Reference Service Excellence

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

A Personal Choice: Reference Service Excellence

Article excerpt

In an effort to bring RUSA's ALA Annual Conference programming to RUSQ readers who cannot attend the conference, I invited Marie Radford to write this guest editorial based on her address that was presented as part of the 2008 RUSA President's Program, "Quality Service in an Impersonal World," at ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim. However, this article is much more than a reworking of that excellent presentation. This reflective piece synthesizes findings from other recent workshops and conferences focusing on reference and provides a blueprint for reference service excellence. The innovative and practical reference strategies presented here can be easily implemented by academic and public libraries.

Marie holds a PhD from Rutgers University and an MLS from Syracuse University. Prior to joining the faculty at Rutgers University, she was the acting dean at Pratt Institute, School of Information and Library Science in New York City. Previously, she was the head of curriculum materials at William Patterson University of New Jersey, and a school librarian and media specialist at Belvidere (N.J.) High School and Franklin (N.J.) Township School.

Her research interests are evaluation of virtual reference, interpersonal communication aspects of reference, nonverbal communication, and media stereotypes of librarians. Marie's dynamic presentation style is well known and she has given numerous conference presentations and workshops. She has also published extensively in scholarly library journals and is active in professional organizations, including ALA, RUSA, Association for Library and Information Science Education, and the New Jersey Library Association. She served as program chair for the Reference Renaissance: Current and Future Trends conference held August 4-5, 2008, in Denver. Marie is one of the editors of Virtual Reference Service: From Competencies to Assessment (Neal-Schuman, 2008). Her book, Web Research: Selection, Evaluation, and Citing, was published by Allyn and Bacon (2006) and The Reference Encounter: Interpersonal Communication in the Academic Library by ACRL/ ALA (1999). She blogs at Library Garden (http://library garden.blogspot.com) and her website is www.sclis.rutgers .edu/~mradford.--Editor

I want to celebrate the rise and revitalization of reference service excellence and to talk with you about the realities and possibilities we face in today's libraries. I have been involved in reference for twenty years on the front line in school and academic libraries, and as a researcher for an overlapping time of twenty-three years. I have never seen a more exciting time for reference. In fact, I've never seen any time that has even come remotely close. So my talk will be in the context of what I believe to be a time of reference renaissance. Why do I feel this way? Let me share some of my reasons.

Over the past year, it has been my privilege to be intensely involved as program chair for the Reference Renaissance: Current and Future Trends conference held August 4-5, 2008, in Denver, co-sponsored by Colorado's Bibliographic Research Center and RUSA. (1) Presenters of competitive papers, workshops, and panels reported an astonishing array of creative, successful, and groundbreaking reference endeavors from all forms of services and library types--including all modes of Virtual Reference (VR), innovative Face-to-Face (FtF) services, novel phone-based services (including text messaging), pod- and vodcasting, Web 2.0 social networking applications, etc. As a post-Annual Conference 2008 note, I am delighted to report that the Reference Renaissance conference was an incredible success! A total of 508 participants from 42 states, the District of Columbia, and seven countries came together in Denver to share and celebrate everything reference.

The success of the Reference Renaissance conference is just one reason why I don't believe that VR or FtF reference is in decline. Quite to the contrary, I see, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that rapid and remarkable advances are taking place in a variety of library settings across the United States and beyond. …

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