School of Information Sciences -- Faculty Publications and Other Works

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Online Vol. 22

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University reference librarians report a variety of effects, both positive and negative, from the rapid and widespread adoption of electronic media during the last decades. Heightened expectations from students and, to a lesser degree, from faculty are noticed by many librarians. Partly because of media hype about the wonders of the Internet and the ubiquity of the World Wide Web, students expect to be able to answer every question and do every research project online. One major impact of electronic services is the growing need for user instruction. Part of the problem is that there are still many students with substandard computer skills. Remote access brings additional instructional challenges. Not surprisingly many librarians report an increase in their workloads as more and different resources are added with no increase in professional staff. Reference interviews take longer, more time is spent with each individual, and librarians have to add more formal instructional sections to their already full days. A few librarians consider that the changes in tasks and focus adversely affect the profession. It was commented that the reference librarian more and more is technical support rather than a resource.

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