Information and Reference Resources and Services
for a specific population
|Examination of tools||Analysis of queries prior to a reference interview||©2003-2007 Amy
This paper was
originally written in July, 2003, for the class ILS 504, Reference and
information resources and services, taught by Dr. Yan Quan
Liu, at Southern Connecticut State University.]
Reference tools for a specific population
Motivating factors: My career goal is to work as an internet librarian/consultant, and I expect that my library will also function as the communal library. Therefore, I decided to create a reference collection for a group to which I belong, a commune on the shores of Lake Superior, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I know these people well and understand their interests and needs. I expect the library and reference collection to get a lot of use, due to the nature of the individuals as well as environmental factors (the weather and physical isolation).
The assumptions: There are about 100 individuals in the commune, 90% adults. Of these, two-thirds are couples, the rest are single men. Most are college graduates; 35% have advanced degrees (masters or Ph.D.). The majority are computer engineers, designing either hardware or software. A sizable minority are either artists or artisans. Several people in the group have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of autism, and approximately 35% of the group is under treatment for mental illnesses, primarily depression, so their medical and psychological needs have been taken into account in the reference collection. Major hobbies include reading, especially science fiction and mystery, but also non-fiction, primarily history and technology-related works. Hiking, mining, amateur radio and amateur rocketry are also enjoyed by most of the group. Several people work with fiber (wool, silk, cotton) and form the core of the costuming and clothing department. All members of the group will have access to the library and each will have personal computer wired into the LAN (local area network), which utilizes a satellite uplink for internet connectivity. The collection is comprised of about 65% print materials and 35% online sources. I solicited opinions regarding valuable and necessary materials for the collection. Two people suggested that I include the top ten terabytes of Google. My feeling is that Google is not a deity, but if the server is big enough, why not?
The biases: As mentioned before, I know and understand these people. I think that a reference librarian has an obligation to know the population being served. As it takes considerable time to get to know a group of people and their needs, and I am rather short on time, I decided to provide for the group that I know.
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