The reader’s advisory and reference observation assignments demonstrate my ability to analyze and identify the information needs of diverse communities of users. These diverse information needs are represented in the assignments by the fact that they each focus on a different type of information, reference vs. reader’s advisory service. In evaluating the techniques of other professionals performing these services, I was able to better understand what worked and what didn’t. As a result, I better understood the concepts, principles, and techniques of reference and user services.
Both assignments also provided examples of the methods used to interact successfully with individuals to provide consultation, mediation, and guidance in their use of information, in some instances, while providing examples of what not to do in others. For example, during the reader’s advisory interviews, one professional was fairly helpful in finding what I was looking for, albeit after a rocky start, while the other paraprofessional didn’t understand what I was asking for, and did not seem to be familiar with a basic reference interview. The reference observation assignment provided more examples of less than helpful service.
The reader’s advisory observation also provided examples of the techniques used to retrieve, evaluate, and synthesize information. However, the techniques the librarian relied upon seemed to be simply her own knowledge. This technique was more successful than I would have expected, although the paraprofessional who basically did the same was much less successful. My own exploration with online, self-service tools seemed to yield better results.