Self-creation and communal-creation: a philosophy of reference service.

Author:Jung, Kristina

Academic library reference service is vital to students. The interaction of reference librarians with students is very important; therefore, it is also important to examine the philosophy of reference service. Reference services are a basic element in our understanding of the concepts of individualization, in which individuals realize their particular and unique values and goals, and socialization, in which individuals absorb the values and goals of their culture or society, in academia. The academic library moves forward not through strict socialization, but through relationships that create meaning through both self-creation and communal-creation. Reference service should support both self-creation and communal-creation. "Self-creation" refers to the open-ended semiosis (the creation of meaning) for individuals, and "communal-creation" to open-ended semiosis for communities. Both are rooted in and fostered through narratives, which are the stories that we create, tell, and listen to, and which help us make sense of our experience and create a context for them.

The academic library is a key component in continuing education. The university is a vital institution, and the academic library is a part of the university's lifeblood. By the year 2000, "87 percent of Americans were saying a college education is as important as a high school diploma used to be" (Katz, 2002, 8). The library provides information to students and faculty. It is the primary source of tools for information and research. Reference services are the avenue that leads to information, quality research, and ideas. Katz (2002) lists three important qualities of reference service: a "superior reference collection," a "superior reference librarian," and "[t]ime" (183). The first and second qualities help the information-seeking and research process. The third provides the moments that turn mere information into research and ideas. In the academic setting, reference service is closely tied to library instruction. Library instruction provides learning tools for the search for information. Reichel (1984) believes that reference service and library instruction help researchers to "understand the process of literature searching and to execute a literature search successfully" (191). The academic library reinforces this idea by providing different channels for reference service, including the collection, the librarian, and instruction. Reference service can also be a part of...

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