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Eliminating the Physical Reference Collection

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Amy Howes

on 25 July 2013

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Transcript of Eliminating the Physical Reference Collection

Eliminating the Physical Reference Collection
Sara Deignan, Amy Howes
Amanda Izenstark, MLIS
LSC 504 Summer 2013
25 July 2013

Pros
A. Requiring a librarian to be physically present/on-call at a reference desk means a constant interruption of work. Eliminating the physical reference collection/desk will free up time for library staff to answer questions and complete tasks.

B. With the downturn in the economy, many libraries have decreased their staff, meaning librarians now have many more tasks and demands placed upon them. Eliminating the physical reference collection/desk will allow library staff to better time manage and decrease the amount of extraneous tasks given to them.
Cons
A. Eliminating the Physical Reference Collection will be costly. However, in the long run the switch will be more cost-effective than continuing to manage a physical reference collection.

B. Many patrons still prefer physical books over the use of an online catalog. Some patrons may not be technologically proficient and it may require time to teach them how to use electronic resources. However, as technology advances, the need to learn how to use these tools will be paramount. Included in the plan to eliminate the physical collection should be added resources for teaching and continued education on new technologies.
Plan for Implementing the Change
The elimination of the physical reference collection will require careful planning. The University will have to balance its resources with that of the needs of its patrons. The initiative should include a gradual shift for eliminating the physical reference collection over a series of months to a year. Over the course of this shift, patrons should be made aware of the impending change through posts on the library’s website, social media platforms, the University email system, and posters hung throughout the library. Patrons should be invited to address any questions or concerns to library staff.
Overview
As the world continues to grow technologically advanced, University libraries and librarians must learn to adapt and grow as well. Increasingly, librarians in academic libraries are observing that in order to provide the best customer service possible for their patrons, they must become adept at navigating virtual databases, and adapt the virtual reference techniques that many patrons of academic libraries have come to prefer.
The worry about eliminating the physical reference collection is unfounded. Librarians will have more time to answer questions with the elimination of the reference desk/collection. The unused physical space can then be converted into learning commons, group or single study areas for patrons. Librarians must be vigilant in making sure that their patrons can learn and be proactive.
Ethical Implications
Image from Public Domain
Image from Public Domain
Full transcript