Social Informatics and the Future of the Library Reference Desk
The expansion of virtual communications and the advent of user determined information access services such as Google has led to dramatically changing expectations for and from academic library reference services. No longer do students expect to receive information from gateway individuals such as reference librarians. Instead, self-access is now the norm. Ask a student a research question, and likely the first thing they will do is head for Google.com, not the library. This paradigm shift in the way students expect to gain knowledge can be best understood through social informatics, the way in which technology affects communities and vice versa. Understanding the intersection of these two subjects, technology and those who use it, is of vital importance to the future of library reference services because of the broad reaching implications of perceptual changes regarding information science and access to information.
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