Initially daunted by the 40 page reading, I was relieved to find that Katz has a readable and charming style. It’s lovely to read such enthusiasm for the profession in the What It Takes section (p. 13-14). It reassures me that I will make a great librarian (while not aiming to be specifically a reference librarian). I am a generalist and interested in just about everything, which means I’m enthusiastic about digging up information. I certainly am a people person and enjoy helping people with their queries. And I’m smart enough to master whatever skills I need to get the job done. I plan on being that wise old librarian, oh yes I do.
As a reference librarian, how many reference titles should you know? Katz says, “As a rule of thumb, the beginner should be familiar with the much-used titles, from bibliography and indexes to encyclopedias and almanacs, found in every library. This amounts to mastering between 100 to 300 reference works. Beyond that is the universe of 15,000-plus titles” (p. 6).
“The librarian must have a thorough knowledge of the electronic data-base, and must be able to quickly ascertain such things as period of coverage, type of materials considered, and frequency of updating. There are about a dozen widely used databases out of a possible choice of over 6,000. Public and academic reference librarians are more likely to search (in rough order of such use): Psychologzcal Abstracts, ERIC, ABI/Inform, M U (Modern Language Association), MEDLINE, Dissertation Abstracts Internatzonal, Sonal Sciences Citation Index, PAIS, Newspaper Abstracts and the GPO Monthly Catalog” (p. 11).
“Today the primary professional duty of any reference librarian is to sift through the masses of information available, on or off the Web, and indicate what is suitable for a particular question, a particular person” (p. 20).
“The path to success is a calm Zen-like attitude. This is based as much upon a good disposition as confidence in when to say, ever so politely “Let’s see what we can find.” “(p. 25).
Katz goes on to discuss evaluation, which is going to need another blog entry.
While reading Katz, I marvelled at all that detailed knowledge that most people never give thought to, even regular library users like myself. I have been struck again and again through this course by how complex and under-appreciated the role of librarian is. I feel like I’m being initiated into a new, esoteric world, and what a delightful journey it is!