I have to say fielding questions at the reference desk is probably one of my favorite things about librarianship. The questions at Montclair State University are usually academic and student driven (which I really enjoy), but the process of the reference interview is something that can cross over into many other areas of the profession. In addition, I like the face to face interaction, as much as the virtual interaction with the students and faculty. Overall I would have to say the concept of searching, helping and interacting is really a rewarding one.
Since we live in such fast paced culture, where people usually Google their questions away, I think it is all the more important that we, as reference librarians, know our stuff and know how to find it. So we need to know when and where to look for the answers to the questions posed to us. Although not every periodical and book is digitized, the fact that there are digital and analog choices, assists our efforts in getting people the information they need in an expedited manner. During my tenure at this MSU, as well as a student at Rutgers, I’ve created my own “go to list” of databases, websites and resources, so I could better assist patrons with their questions.
Here’s the thing about work the reference desk: you never know what kind of question you will get! It’s actually exciting. I get to learn, dig and explore like an archeologist, except my job is a lot less messy. But that is what I enjoy most about the experience; the journey of discovery and in the end helping someone achieve their own academic goals. This is what makes working the reference desk in an academic setting so interesting; one day I could be helping a student find articles on a sociological subject and the next I’m helping them find resources on rare art from the Ming Dynasty. The possibilities are always shifting, which makes the experience all the more fulfilling and challenging.
~ Maria Russo, firstname.lastname@example.org