Some resources for reference assistant training in a scitech library

Trust me, I really tried to come up with a cool, funny title for this post.


We have a new reference assistant starting here next week. As somewhat typical for such a position, the new staff member has a science subject background rather than a library background. In this case, Maps/GIS.

So I thought it might be a good idea to gather together some resources for helping our new hire get acclimatised to reference work in an academic science & engineering library. After all, we're not born with the ability to do good reference interviews!

With the help of the fine folk in Friendfeed, I've gathered together some very good general sources. As well, I've trawled through the archives from Issues in Science & Technnology Librarianship and Science & Technology Libraries to find some other good articles.

Of course, please feel free to suggest other resources that might be of help in the comments. Anything related to reference or just general life in scitech libraries would be appreciated.



S&TL (Warning: all toll access articles.)


Yeah, this is a ton of reading. The point isn't that someone should memorize every word, most of the the articles probably only need to be scanned. What I'm hoping for is a list of resources that will help someone get acclimatized to reference service and hopefully become aware of many of the main issues around such services in academic libraries. As well, there's a bit in here about some general issues in academic libraries.

Over time I can imagine adding to and pruning the list. As well, I can also imagine highlighting a few key resources with the rest in a more supporting role.

As I said above, suggestions are more than welcome.

Update 2011.07.19. Thanks to DJF on Friendfeed for pointing out the original citation for the Oranges & Peaches item. It's Dewdney, Patricia, and Gillian Michell. 1996. "Oranges and peaches: Understanding communication accidents in the reference interview" RQ 35 (4): 520.


More like this

ISTL is a great resource for those of us in science and technology libraries. I'm happy to report on the tables of contents from the last two issues.Winter 2010 Evaluation of an Audience Response System in Library Orientations for Engineering Students by Denise A. Brush, Rowan University Open…
Another terrific issue. I'm going to list everything but the book & database reviews & reports so as not to clutter the post too much. Five Voices, Two Perspectives: Integrating Student Librarians into a Science and Engineering Library by Eugene Barsky, Aleteia Greenwood, Samantha Sinanan…
Here's a pretty exciting opportunity at my institution. Although not a science library position per se, there will be ample opportunity to work with science and engineering faculty and students. Position Rank: Full Time Tenure Stream - Assistant Librarian Discipline/Field: GIS and Map Librarian…
Lots of great articles in this issue! Pretty well every one is worth checking out: Percentile-Based Journal Impact Factors: A Neglected Collection Development Metric by A. Ben Wagner, University at BuffaloA Subject Librarian's Guide to Collaborating on e-Science Projects by Jeremy R. Garritano and…

Admittedly I'm an ILL paraprofessional, not a ref desk worker, but that means that I see the weirdest citations and patterns of research. My research background is in the humanities, so this is a great introduction to science reference material. Thank you!

Starting a new job next week. Thanks for the list!