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Why We Need to Evaluate Reference Services: Several Answers

Bill Katz

The emergence of the truly professional reference librarian owes much to three related facts. First, there simply is too much data (whether it be novels or investment reports) for even the experienced lay person to cope with, much less the individual with only a passing knowledge of the field. Second, the advent of the online search and equal high costs not only demands someone able to find the data, but someone who can do it quickly and efficiently. Finally, with more and more Americans at least passing through a hall of higher education, there is an increasing respect for knowledge. The respect is pretty pragmatic, based on the sudden revelation that a wiser person may not only be wealthier, but even happier. Wed these factors and the library doors assume new, major meaning in the lives of more Americans, and particularly the ones who vote and control budgets.