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Ok, go over here and read this short piece on Revamping Reference by Aaron Schmidt.  Make sure you give him till halfway through the post before you write him off as another radical roving reference advocate.

He makes some very good points about engaging the public and not being afraid to wow them with technology.  Some of the best interacations I have about digital materials are with people I can show that I know the technology.  It gives them confidence that I can help them.

I think a lot about roving reference and how difficult it would be with our current set up, at least at my branch.  The person at the reference desk is also the person that answers the phone.  The desk is the service point where many patrons know to go for help (which kind of help is another matter), and where circulation staff know to send people.

But this article is the first time I seriously started to think about solutions to those issues, and not just ones that required others to staff the information desk.

What if we had head sets so that we could answer calls on the fly?  We could refer some to the circ desk (because half of the calls are for them, really, even if I do usually just help them at the info desk). There could also be a pager (or even better, built into the headset) that would alert us if someone needed help at the front.  And how about having a tablet that would allow us to have access to email, infonet and horizon.  Oh my, and what if that tablet could be used for outreach?  With 3g so that internet access wasn’t an issue?

Yes, I know.  Pipe dreams at the moment with all our budget woes.  Does anyone else see a different future for reference?

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