The Accreditation of Reference Services
One of the fascinating things about writing for a journal (wordprocessing these days), is being able to say what you want even if there is always the assumption that there may be far fewer readers than would satisfy the author. So it is with this present essay, which is concerned with strengthening the perceptions and realities of reference services-an ambitious undertaking at the very least. This article is specifically concerned with the need to accredit the reference services of libraries in the same fashion in which, e.g., hospitals, schools, etc., are certified to be "professionally pure. " While the ideas inherent in this commentary pertain to all types of libraries, the public library will be the model that will be specifically considered. Before getting to this issue, however, the author would like to provide some subjective comments on reference/information service as a matter of background. Parenthetically, to simplify things the author will use the term "reference" throughout this paper instead of the more cumbersome label "reference/information service" which is utilized in RASD's document, A Commitment to Information Services: Developmental Guidelines. I
It's an interesting endeavor to consider what are the motivating forces or Furies that generally drive librarianship at the present time. These also propel reference librarians, of course. The reader will find no difficulty in constructing a list of concerns. The following ones are the author's favorites. Without question, the top category in importance is the headlong concern most librarians have with technology, particularly microcomputers, at the present time. While this author has suggested, in other places, that he frequently is tempted to sell his micro and that other librarians might consider similar action, this has been branded by some as a rather regressive
attitude to maintain. Even at the risk of being labeled as the old man on the mountain (Clarion is 7,000 feet above sea level, so I would qualify), my concern emanates from the fear that library basics are being forgotten at the expense of individuals wanting to be au courant. It is also my view that librarians, whether they know it or appreciate it or not, have confused means and ends. There must also be a concern that those who see themselves as information scientists (what a heady category) and now wish to interpret the entirety of library practices in nanoseconds, are nicely playing into the hands (nay, motherboards) of companies manufacturing electronic components, information utilities, and electrical engineers. The future library needs no librarians nor information scientists. Hopefully, reference librarians will not need to be constantly reminded that human beings still require the prerequisite attention in all libraries.