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Gail's comment:

> This is an issue I have with the local public librarians whose
> philosophy includes "helping" my students find the information they
> need as a component of their "reference services."  What they don't
> realize is that my goal was more process oriented than project
> oriented, and what I really want my students to learn is how to find
> the information for themselves.  Now, I don't object if the student has
> tried, and is stumped, but when the librarians pre-empt student efforts
> to locate information, they are undermining my assignment in the name
> of their providing service.

I have been frustrated with this situation with my library assistant who
seems to want to open the book and "point to the answers" or actually
pull-up documents that she happens across to help students locate the
answers quickly when they should be doing research alone....however, as a

The public librarian's viewpoint (usually) is to locate the information for
the patron.  My experience is that this is what most public libraries want
their librarians to do.  I learned that lesson when I was turned down for a
reference position primarily because I wanted to "teach" the patron where to
locate the information, how to choose the best sources, and how to frame the
entire research process.

This un-welcoming review came from a "major" library director and two
assistants during an interview I had with them a few years ago right after I
received my MLIS degree.  They asked me various questions (as if they were
patrons), gave me a reference scenario that I was to perform, and then
called me into a conference room where they "gently" told me that I was
"over-qualified" for public library services because I was too much of a
teacher.  They explained that their patrons only wanted answers not
instruction and they did not want me to teach the patrons.  (They then
suggested that I pursue "higher education" as a librarian-- which I did and
was hired as an Assistant Professor / Supervisor of a branch library on a
university campus.)

The research approach is different for public librarians than for those of
us in public schools or even at the university levels.  Although some public
librarians may offer teaching with their reference duties, I would imagine
that they are discouraged from doing it because it takes too much time (with
too little return on their "investment.")

~Shonda Brisco
Trinity Valley MS / US Librarian
Fort Worth, TX

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