“What’s reference? And other library related questions”

My current job in graduate school is a library supervisor for a residence hall library. Our residence hall library system is unique here at the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign which gives us the opportunity to interact with undergraduates in their residence halls. Our collection consists of the latest fiction, nonfiction, movies, TV shows, CDs, and magazines. Essentially a public library-like collection in an academic setting. It’s awesome, to be so close and helpful, and students don’t even have to leave their residence hall!

My co-workers and I have tried to provide reference support in the libraries. This past semester I spent eight hours a week doing “Office Hours.” Essentially, come visit me, ask your reference questions. Then, during finals, one of my co-workers did a “Roving Reference” table throughout several residence halls. At a recent staff meeting he shared that when he was roving many undergraduates asked him, “What’s reference?”

This may hurt us as library staff. We hope (and perhaps sometimes assume) that what we take as implicit knowledge (e.g., what reference is) is also implicit to the people we work with.

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Preparing for College at the Free Library of Philadelphia

The Free Library of Philadelphia is the 10th largest public library system in the United States. They are governed by their own city agency and have their own Board of Directors and a separate non-profit organization. They host a wide range of services for their patrons throughout the year and in 2009 began offering a college prep program.

The early college prep program was very flexible, Isamar Ramirez, Programming Specialist for the Free Library informs me during our interview, college students would come in on Saturdays to help high schools students with financial aid, the college admissions/application process, ‘ and the library also offered three hour SAT workshops.
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