“Are Reference Desks Dying Out?” is an interesting article besides the drama surrounding its interpretation of the Q&A session of an ACRL panel session. For the drama (and some further discussion of the important issues), see Reference Desk Backlash at Brian Mathews’ The Ubiquitous Librarian.
I’d like to mention two other bits in the article. One, it tells the story of University of California at Merced librarian Michelle Jacobs answering reference questions via SMS while she was in Baltimore for the ACRL conference. Neat. I’d like to hear more about that, in particular if they’re using some system or just her personal phone number.
The other good section is about the “Librarian With a Latte” program from University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. What’s with Ann Arbor and library goodness, anyways?
With a laptop and a wireless connection, he sets aside time to sit at a table at a popular Ann Arbor coffee shop and invites students to drop by for help. Dozens of students showed up for one of his recent sessions.
“‘Going to where students are seems to be a theme in social-networking discussions, and they mean virtually,” he says. “It’s equally important to go where they are physically.” The coffee-shop sessions help establish relationships with students that become online interactions later.
Incidentally, the article also has a funny quote from Derik Badman (that’s two posts in a row!) about his stapler, even though he spoke with the reporter at length about virtual reference.