Ramblings, citations and "brainwaves" of a college librarian in Toronto. 475 square feet refers to the size of my home, not the size of my office or library.

Reconstructing the Reference Team, says Stephen Abram

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Stephen continues to prod us. Although I don't always agree with him, he makes some good points. I especially like:

"Putting the “Personal” into Reference

How do you market your services? Do you market the service brand? What are you called? Is it clear, understood, and engaging? Do you market your staff and colleagues, or just the collections? Is there a personal touch? As professionals, do you market yourself and your services in a manner similar to that of other professionals? Check out Web sites for private practice lawyers, accountants, nutritionists, etc. Ask yourself how do you “rate” on the following questions:

· Can users see pictures of the reference staff on the Web site? Is there a personal connection?

· Are reference staff profiles available on the Web site or Intranet, or linked to special personal Web pages or Facebook/MySpace profiles?

· Can users easily contact the library reference services in the mode of their choice (IM, email, phone, VR, Skype, mail, fax, etc.)? Do you have virtual “hours” or 24/7 service?

· Can these contacts be made from every page and within e-learning lessons, or is it just a homepage feature?

· Can users quickly determine who has special expertise in a specific topic area (local history, homework, etc.) or a special skill (genealogy) or talent (storytelling, dissertation support, etc.)? Are all other staff prepared to step in for low-level questions like address, directions, hours, etc., that seem to show up regularly, even in virtual reference environments?

· Is your identity clear and your Web site’s look and feel, library signage, name badges, etc. fresh – and are they consistently applied and noticeable so that your end user positioning is readily recognized by your users?

The goal is to place the librarian back into the center of service. With the majority of your questions happening in the virtual space, the data and information need to be balanced with full service; and then personal touch. In most library services today, this is not nearly in balance. It needs to be. In my opinion, information services without librarians are just not true libraries, but warehouses."

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