Monday, May 16, 2011

Successful Reference Services: Up to the Challenge?

The following is an edited excerpt from our course notes:

Riedling states that "successful reference services" consist of three components:

1. knowledge of the library media collection
2. effective conversational skills (communication)
3. competence in selecting, acquiring and evaluating resources to meet students' needs.

Given the present time and budget allocated to many school libraries, meeting all of these requirements, to their fullest extent, may be difficult. To add to this challenge there a few other qualities that a teacher-librarian should possess in order to support successful reference services:

4. understanding of the research process and the affective qualities that are inherent in research.
5. patience with the frustrations that often accompany reference services and an ability to stay positive despite these
6. knowledge of and an eagerness to apply information skills, where applicable, to all levels of student research.

Are these unreasonable expectations given your time? Are there ways in which you can improve in these areas? By the end of this course, you should be able to determine how you measure up to these qualities and, hopefully, how you can improve in those areas that may require improvement.

Answers as of Now

It is reasonable to think that a teacher-librarian should possess these skills and offer these services but the resources to do this job are often lacking. My resources are fairly limited in terms of what I can purchase for reference resources and due to my part time status as a teacher-librarian in my school my time available to deliver such instruction and services is severely limited.

Notwithstanding the constraints I just mentioned, I know I need better knowledge in terms of selecting, acquiring and evaluating resources that will facilitate better reference services in my K to 5 library. As mentioned in my previous post, I am at a loss as to what is a reasonable scope for my reference collection for my patrons below grade e and sometimes even for grade 3. World Book Online Kids, World Book Student Encyclopedia and a few Atlases and dictionaries are all that I have that can even begin to serve as quick reference sources.  Do I need more? I hope to be able to answer this more adequately by the end of the course.

I also need to instill patience among teachers and students with the challenges that accompany reference services. If results or information sources cannot be accessed instantly many will give up.  Teachers often will say never mind (often just trying not to consume too much of my time).  My hope and intent each time is to access resources at a reading level that younger students can read themselves and thus not have the teacher or librarian serve as a translator of information and ultimate answerer of the question.  I want to be more of a facilitator of access to information. I hope to have more strategies and resources that will help maintain patience and build more enthusiasm for library references services among staff and students.

1 comment:

  1. As a start to locating great materials for K-5, sign on to Titlewave and start your filters - you'll see emerging patterns. Further to this, go to the SLA of the United Kingdom for some of their selection tools and choices. Actually, not a lot of overlap.