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Introduction to Reference and Information Services in Today's School Library

Lesley S.J. Farmer

Students come to the school library every day with questions ranging from “How many people live in China?” to “I need to find out how the Sun began for my science paper.” Helping students find the answers to their questions is one of the most important responsibilities school librarians have.

In Introduction to Reference and Information Services in Today's School Library, one of America’s premier school library educators covers the A-Z of both reference and information services for today’s library.

Everything from teaching students how to use sources to both in-person and virtual reference service is covered. A key feature of the text is an annotated bibliography of core print and electronic sources for elementary, middle, and high school collections.

Yes, reference and information services are vital library functions in the digital age. Even students who appear to be tech savvy have trouble finding the right information efficiently - and knowing what to do with it. This book examines information needs and behaviors, and provides strategies for assessing and meeting the informational needs of the school community. The book also addresses the conditions for optimum service: physical access (including virtual access), effective interaction and collaboration, instructional design, and systematic planning. Newer issues such as embedded librarianship, curation,collective intelligence, and web 2.0 intellectual property are also addressed. This book introduces the entering professional, and updates practitioners, to current standards and useful strategies.

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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 196Size: 6 1/2 x 9 1/4
978-0-8108-9309-2 • Hardback • March 2014 • $99.00 • (£65.00)
978-0-8108-8718-3 • Paperback • March 2014 • $64.00 • (£42.95)
978-0-8108-8719-0 • eBook • March 2014 • $59.00 • (£39.95)
Lesley S. J. Farmer, professor at California State University Long Beach, coordinates the librarianship program. She earned her M.S. in library science at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and received her doctorate in adult education from Temple University. Dr. Farmer is the author of more than twenty books. She was chair of the education section of the Special Libraries Association in 2012, and was the vice president of association relations for the International Association of School Librarianship.
Chapter 1: What Does Reference and Information Service in Today’s School Look Like?
Today’s World
Sidebar: Inventing Reference and Information Services
Defining Terms
Reference and Information Services within the School Library Program
Sidebar: Gathering RIS Baseline Data

Chapter 2: Determing Your Community’s Needs
Environmental Scan
User Populations
Developmental Issues
Special Populations
Adult Needs
SWOT Analysis

Chapter 3: Assessing Information Behaviors
Interacting with Information
The Added Task of Information Seeking
Youth’s Information Behaviors
Children’s Information Behaviors
Teens’ Information Behaviors
Ethical Issues in Teens’ Information Behavior
General RIS Implications
Theories of Information Behavior
Optimizing Information Seeking Strategies
A Question of Behavior Quality
A Note about Information Architecture
Searching Print Resources
Searching the World Wide Web
Searching Database Aggregators
Considering Other Literacies
Manipulating Information
Sidebar: Constructing Questions
Assessing Information Behaviors

Chapter 4: Developing Resource Collections
What is a Reference Resource?
Profile of the Typical Reference Resource
Types of Reference Sources
Almanacs and Yearbooks
Handbooks and Manuals
Biographical Sources
Guides to Other Sources
Selecting Reference Sources
Generic Reference Selection Criteria
Selecting Electronic Reference Sources
Factors in Choosing Formats
Sidebar: Humans as Reference Sources
Selection Processes
Selection Steps
Selection Tools
Reference Sources Life Cycle
Core Reference Collection Suggestions
Middle School
High School
Resource Sharing

Chapter 5: Providing Physical Access
Cataloging and Organization
Digital Reference Resource Access
The Big Picture about Library Portals
Sidebar: The Merits of Browsing

Chapter 6: Conducting Reference Interactions
Librarian Standards
Reference Service Standards
Youth-Specific Standards
The Physical and Virtual Context of Reference Interaction
Interacting with Populations with Special Needs
Purposeful RIS Interaction
Types of Reference Questions
Reader’s Advisory
Sidebar: What is the Real Question?
RIS Interactions in Online Environments
Online Visual Interaction
Online Interactive Skills
Basics of Collaboration
Collaborative Activities
Sidebar: Student iSquads

Chapter 7: Providing Reference and Information Services Instruction
Information Literacy and Learning Standards
Instruction to Improve Information Behaviors
Side Bar: Mapping the Curriculum
Instructional Design
Side Bar: Research Presentation Rubric
Instructional Delivery
Time Issues
Space Issues
Instructional Method
Student Participation
Side Bar: Learning Activity Collaborative Planning Checklist
Dealing with Major Research Projects
Side Bar: Sample Social Justice Learning Activity

Chapter 8: Curating Reference and Information Services
What is Curation?
Packaging Information
Purpose-Specific Information Packaging
Format-Specific Information Packaging
Dynamic Packaging of Information

Chapter 9: Dealing with Legal and Ethical Issues
Legal Issues
RIS Ethics and School Librarians
Library Position Statements Dealing with Ethics
Sidebar: Equity in the Library/ Media Center
Research Ethics
Teaching Legal and Ethical Information Behavior
Ethics Isn’t Easy

Chapter 10: Managing Reference and Information Services
Facilities for RIS
RIS Technology Issues
RIS Staffing Issues
RIS Policies and Procedures
RIS Finances
School Library Public Relations and Marketing
Strategic Planning and Assessment
Comparative Assessment
Sidebar: RIS Planning Guide
Planning for the Future
About the Author
This school library reference resource is a valuable tool for both current school librarians, as well as for use in school library courses. Farmer argues that the need for school librarians to assist patrons as they work to navigate through the abundance of digital content and information available to them is more crucial than ever. The author examines the reference and information services provided by school libraries in the context of the current digital and information age. School librarians are afforded with the tools and strategies to examine and assess the needs of the information seeker, in addition to helping students find and use the information they need in an efficient and effective manner.
School Library Connection

Authored by the coordinator of the librarianship program at California State University Long Beach, this work is geared specifically to librarians and media specialists working in the K-12 setting, as well as children’s librarians in public libraries. . . .The individual bibliographies in the chapters can be used separately in classes for future school media specialists, while the compiled bibliography for the book as a whole at the end serves as an excellent resource for future needs. The index helps readers to find specific areas of needed information as well.
American Reference Books Annual

This volume describes library reference and information services in schools in the context of the current digital age, emerging technologies, informational needs, and students. It discusses information, information seekers, and the role of school librarians in providing these services, then specific aspects: determining the school's needs, what can be provided with the existing resources, and what can be added; assessing information behaviors and techniques for researching and retrieving information from print, nonprint, and digital resources; developing resource collections, criteria for specific formats and populations, and core resources at different school levels; providing access, including arranging, cataloging, virtual access, and disability requirements; standards and strategies for conducting face-to-face and virtual reference interactions, as well as consortia and outsourced digital reference services; providing reference and information services instruction, including information literacy standards, instructional design, different modes of instruction, and embedding instruction into the curriculum; selecting and organizing services, and content and format issues; dealing with legal and ethical issues; and managing services and strategic planning.

Introduction to Reference and Information Services in Today’s School Library is very suitable for courses that prepare students for work in school libraries. The writing style is very clear and students will find the book accessible. Everything a new school librarian needs to know is in this book.
Jennifer Branch, Coordinator and Associate Professor, The School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta