Abstract

Reference service is the most important service among library
services. The idea of reference service had emerged in nineteenth century and
always remains in centre of library services till today. The service has not
changed yet, only the way and means of this service changed time to time from
traditional to digital and virtual. A lot of tools also emerged to make
reference service more easier, faster and user centric. In this paper I discuss
the emergence of Information and Communication Technology
affected so significantly the core mission of a library. Libraries
have the opportunity to build new services and go where the users are. New
technology enables librarians to enhance information delivery.

 

Keywords:

Reference
Service, Traditional Reference, Digital Reference, Virtual Reference, Reference
Tools

 

INTRODUCTION

Libraries are
changing. There’s been an exponential growth of resources; The main reason of
this growth is Internet. There are new researchers with new needs and
expectations. Libraries have the opportunity to build new services and go where
the users are.

But while the
tools have changed, the work has not. The basic nature of librarianship has not
changed. New technology enables librarians to enhance information delivery.
Librarians can use their traditional strengths to build new programs; to
leverage that experience worldwide throughout the library community; and to
redefine the role of libraries in the digital age. As libraries are changing,
the one of most important service which is reference service and its tools are
changing rapidly.

Objective of this study

The objectives of this study are given bellow:

Ø 
To know the changing scenario of
reference services.

Ø 
To know about popular reference
services in digital era.

Ø 
To know the modern reference
tools.

Ø 
To know about some Software
related to  virtual reference tools.

 

The
fundamental aspects of the traditional reference services

 

Reference
services concept has become common among American librarians since 1876.
Referenceservices theories appeared in 20th century. There are three types of
Reference services theories presented by James Wyer In 1930. There were
Conservative theory, liberal theory and moderate theory. Conservative theory
persists on education and guidance instead of boundless help. This theory
states that reference work is limited to use the ready reference sources to
help the users. In liberal theory users get maximum help from librarian.
Besides Wyer, other librarianship scientists presented reference services
theories. All of them tried to identify the referenceservices in libraries.

 

 Two types of reference services distinguished
in libraries are direct reference services and indirect reference services.
Direct reference service is a face to- face process in which reference
librarian answers the user’s question directly. These services consist of
information services and library instruction. Insuch services librarian
individually helps the users to retrieve the information. Indirect reference
services include reference sources selection, provision and publishing the -bibliographies,
union catalogs, guidelines, newsletters, and reference sources evaluation.
These are the fundamental aspects of the traditional reference services.

 

 

MODERN
REFERENCE SERVICES

 

 Based on these concepts, new reference service
models have designed and developed for many years. Information and
communication technologies have facilitated traditional reference process and
made it more effective. The number of information technologiesincrease rapidly.
Librarians and Information specialists cannot ignore the vital role of modern
information technologies in libraries. World Wide Web is the most affective
technology in libraries.Information services have been seriously influenced by
the World Wide Web since 1990. Reference desk statistics of academic libraries are
dropping as a result of the remote accessibility of electronic sources.
Nowadays, most of library reference services areweb-based. Users can meet their
information needs without time and place limitations. Also they can have
scholarly communications with others via web-based technologies. Traditional
reference services concepts would perfectly be improved in new technological
age.

 Its
content is rich and varied, but easy access is undermined by several factors,
including the absence of traditional means of cataloging or organizing
information and the absence of distinctions between credible sources and
sources created by self-styled experts.

Today’s researchers need to find quickly
information that is usable, relevant, authoritative and verifiable. To meet
that need, libraries must adapt our traditional strengths of acquiring,
describing, and serving information to an environment that is not bound by time
or physical place, the virtual library without walls. So how do we take the
reference desk to the web?

We can start with what libraries are good at.
Libraries are good at organizing information using controlled vocabularies and
other standards tools to make materials accessible. Libraries evaluate
materials carefully before selecting them and according to documented policy
statements and guidelines. Libraries have both digital and analog collections
which are regularly mined by highly skilled and trained subject, language and
navigation experts. Finally, the communications options for libraries have been
increasing in number and variety. People can conduct research and ask questions
in person, in writing, by phone and fax, and online by email, and experiments
using chat rooms and video conferencing have begun.

Digital reference

Digital reference refers to Internet-based expert
answering services. In such a service, a user typically poses a question to a
digital reference service through a web form, e-mail or a chat interface. An
expert (such as a scientist or librarian) uses this input to construct an
answer that is both passed back to the user as well as used in some knowledge
base or enhancement to a digital library collection. There is a growing body of
research and development in digital reference, and digital reference services
are being implemented within the context of digital libraries.

As a result

 This
intense interest in digital reference by the library community, several
large-scale digital reference projects are available for use by the research
and scholarly community. The Collaborative Digital Reference Service (CDRS)
spearheaded by the Library of Congress and that has evolved into the
QuestionPoint service run by OCLC in cooperation with the Library of Congress,
certainly demonstrates the breadth of library-based digital reference services
spanning public, academic and international libraries. The National Library of
Canada’s introduction of Virtual Reference Canada to work with Canadian digital
reference services also promises to be a major source of digital reference
activity and development. Other prominent digital reference efforts in the library
world include KnowItNow from the Cleveland Public Library, the 24/7 Reference
service that acts as a statewide digital reference network for the State of
California. Also of interest to researchers in digital reference are digital
reference vendors in the library domain including LSSI’s Virtual Reference
Service. One special case that should not be overlooked is the Internet Public
Library(www.ipl.org), for while it is not based in a library setting (it is
part of the School of Information at the University of Michigan, this service
is started in1995), it has its roots and traditions firmly planted in the
library community.