Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Web 2.0 for Reference Services: An Overview

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Web 2.0 for Reference Services: An Overview

Article excerpt



The field of librarianship is all about reference services, this is so because librarians are trained to specifically render assistance to library users because they (users) usually have challenges on how to locate information resources. The term reference service is all about the act of guiding library clienteles on how to access information resources. Reference service as a concept has been defined severally by different scholars in the field of librarianship. However, a reference service is seen as the personal assistance provided to the users and potential users of information (Bunge in Bhatia and Vohra 2007). Gbaje (2007) noted that reference service is a platform where human intermediation occurs in a face-to-face modes and users express their information problems (or what they know about them) to intermediaries. Giving out this personalized information service has been the main aim of library and information profession.

In another definition Madu (2010) defined it as the personal assistance eagerly given to library users in pursuit of information by a librarian working in the reference section. In the world of library, users are essential factor that needs to be given greater consideration and in doing this; librarians need to be properly trained, retrained and educated on how to carry out the role of reference services effectively and efficiently to users. This is a unit of the library that cannot just be handled by anybody. Reason being that it involves responding to queries that will be thrown at the librarians by the library users and this exercise usually takes place in the four walls of the library where the library users will have to walk into the library asking a librarian on how to locate an information resources in the library and in doing this, the user may not be able to pass across whatever seems to be his or her intent clearly to the library staff and their body languages sometimes send messages that tend to upset the staff. Therefore, it's automatically behooves on the librarian to be patient and tolerable.

In the bid to overcome the fracas that usually takes place between a librarian and the library clienteles and also to serve them effectively and efficiently; it's necessitated the application of Information and communication Technology in the provision of substantial and tangible services in the library. For the reference services provided by libraries to remain viable, they must continuously adapt to meet the ever-changing needs and reference preferences of their users. In recent years, technological developments and their rapid adoption and widespread use by library users have only served to increase the pace of change required by reference services in order to remain effective. Indeed, with a growing amount of any academic library's collection now available digitally and the means to access these electronic resources off-site nearly ubiquitous among users, reference service has had to expand beyond the physical reference desk and into this virtual, electronic environment in order to continue to "meet" the users where they "are." Today, e-mail, web form questionnaires, chat, instant messaging, SMS/text messaging, and cobrowsing capabilities represent just some of the ways that reference services have attempted to keep pace with the changing ways that library users seek information. To make this a reality, the technology termed web 2.0 becomes a necessity.


Web 2.0 is the next incarnation of the World Wide Web, where digital tools allow users to create, change, and publish dynamic content of all kinds. Other Web 2.0 tools syndicate and aggregate this content.

The term 'Web 2.0' was coined by technology commentator Tim O'Reilly who tried to define it as follows: "Web 2.0 is the network as platform, spanning all connected devices; Web 2.0 applications are those that make the most of the intrinsic advantages of that platform: delivering software as a continually-updated service that gets better the more people use it, consuming and remixing data from multiple sources, including individual users, while providing their own data and services in a form that allows remixing by others, creating network effects through an 'architecture of participation' and going beyond the page metaphor of Web 1. …

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