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There’s more to reference

I, too, hesitate before telling a student my official job title, unsure of what associations the word reference may bring to mind, but I worry about the implications of stripping “reactive reference” from our service model:

“Taking a reactive position in our reference work doesn’t fit with our users’ desire for self-sufficiency. They don’t want to have to rely on us to get their research done. We are and should be a last resort.”

There is an assumption here that the only end game of reference is finding something, but there is our pedagogical role to consider as well. Every reference transaction is an opportunity to teach a student something deeper than “here’s where you search for articles”. By designing spaces that are perfectly centered around the needs of the user, do we push out important opportunities for learning?