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Yesterday, I wandered down to the children’s area to speak with Heydi about Teen related stuff and after I was done, I had a very interesting experience. On my way back to the circ desk I approached by a mom who needed a book of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes” for her third grader. So I took her over to a WebPAC and we searched for it. Then I showed her what we had in both chapter books and picture books. Then on my back to the circ desk again I got approached by another mom who was looking for Star Wars clone wars books for her son. So I showed her where those were.

This got me thinking about roving reference again. I was thinking how effective it is to have someone out in the stacks available for someone so they don’t have to come to the desk. (Because, come on, who wants to come to the desk, we’re so scary) But it hit me that now that I have to wear a visible staff id, it makes it even easier to be recognized, and consequently approached. I think I may do some more experimentation with this in the next week and see what else I can observe.

On that note, I think I’m going to buy an emergency librarian t-shirt.


I work in a small library in which I do a lot of different reference and circulation duties. Most of that time I work at the circulation desk, but on occasion, I have to leave shelve books if there is no volunteer at that time. One thing I have noticed is that I often get approached by patrons asking reference questions.

I think the idea of Roving Reference is really a great idea. I believe that the reason the reference desk isn’t used more is that once a patron comes up to the desk there becomes an automatic power shift. I think people are intimidated or feel like their questions would be a waste of our time  (when the reason we are there is for them)

I think it works in my scenario of shelving because I am not closely paying attention to them. I think that having someone walking through the stacks looking for someone to help could feel invasive. I believe in order for roving reference to work there must be an equal balance between availability and approachability without “looming”.

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