Reference thoughts (Radical Reference from “This Book Is Overdue”)

This post would be more truthfully tagged with “what I’m listening to,” because even though I was still in a long line to get a print copy of “This Book is Overdue,” I was able to check out the audiobook version.

Great book by the way, mostly because its one of the first library books (books about libraries) I’ve read from the reader or patrons perspective, not the librarians.

Anyway, this morning, the section on Radical Reference struck me. Aside from the obvious political overtones of serving a protest, the idea of putting reference service where and in front of who really needed it struck me as brilliant and shockingly obvious.

I’ve often had this idea in my head of a local reference blog, writing about interesting specific information requests (without identifying the patron), interesting local information sources. Or, taking a local debate and providing links to reference sources to help inform the debate.

The list here provided a few links to specific local library reference blogs, but nothing even close to what I had in mind.

Radical reference is a great example of the public back and forth that builds better answers than a private exchange.

There are already a lot of good reference blogs that don’t have a local focus, so the real power of a local library reference blog wouldn’t be giving links to general reference databases. Not saying that couldn’t be important, I think the local flavor would be invaluable.

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2 Comments

Filed under What I'm reading

2 responses to “Reference thoughts (Radical Reference from “This Book Is Overdue”)

  1. kelsey

    I had to return this book before it was due, but I really enjoyed the part that I was able to read and I’m sure I’ll end up buying it one of these days. I used to participate in Radical Reference when I had a little more free time- it was satisfying work. It’s a great collective and has been sustainable largely because of the commitment and enthusiasm of about 15 great librarians. One of these days, I’m hoping to have the time to participate again. I love Ask Metafilter as well, for similar and different reasons.

  2. Ask Metafilter is the freakin’ bomb…in part I think because of the strong librarian influence. Hasn’t Jessamyn West, one of the moderators there, been involved with Radical Reference?

    There’s something about having a trusted community where you can ask questions and feel reasonably sure that you’ll get useful answers.

    Oh, and I LOVE this idea: “taking a local debate and providing links to reference sources to help inform the debate” – like the library mixed with the League of Women Voters. šŸ™‚

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