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From The CriticsReviewer: Allison B Brungard, MLIS (Duquesne University)
Description: This is a timely collection of essays that effectively integrates technological and social issues impacting contemporary reference services. This title is published simultaneously as The Reference Librarian, Number 93, 2006.
Purpose: Anderson and Webb's substantive work portrays the dynamic role of the librarian in delivering a wide range of modern user-centered services, such as virtual and e-mail reference, self-directed interlibrary loan requests, music reference, and more.
Audience: This title is intended primarily for reference librarians working in all types of libraries. It is also recommended as a valuable source for administrators in terms of planning and decision making. The editors and contributors are authorities on the topics they present.
Features: The book is divided into three major sections — New Roles for Librarians, Impact of Technology, and Issues in Library Services — with 10 essays in all. Included at the end of each essay or case study are useful appendixes and Web sites. Written in a familiar language, this work is not weighed down in academic prose. Adapting to change and a strong emphasis on customer service are common themes throughout. Particularly well written, Anderson's Primer on Copyright Law and the DMCA addresses the complexities of this topic in a concise, yet informative manner. Peg Burnette and Jo Dorsch's account of the PDA experience in medical libraries reveals implications for the future use of PDAs, including offering software downloads and ready reference in all types of library settings. A minor deficiency of the book is that there are no specific references made to needs assessment or outcomes of some of the programs. Furthermore, the addition of tables, or figures would enhance the text. A welcome omission was any mention of financial constraints and other barriers when implementing new services. Instead, the contributors focus on realistic and successful endeavors in providing reference services to diverse populations.
Assessment: This book's strength is grounded in its contributors' ability to draw on their own experiences and thus provides a practical and positive approach to showcasing new services and ideas. This will be a solid addition to any reference librarian's collection. This title is a worthy and up-to-date companion to Bill Katz's well-known New Technologies and Reference Service (Haworth Press, 2000), and the more recent work, High Tech High Touch: Library Customer Service through Technology by Lynn Jurewicz and Todd Cutler (ALA, 2003). Emerging issues are still looming, such as Web 2.0 applications, including the use of blogs, wakes, and RSS feeds; podcasts; and the information needs of the millennial generation. Interest pertaining to such topics may facilitate a forthcoming edition to this title.