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Are Reference Books Worth It?

It seems like most libraries are downsizing their reference collections in favor or more electronic resources and a heavier reliance on free websites, but most are still purchasing reference books to some degree. The Scholarly Kitchen blog recently posted a recap of a debate that happened at the Profession and Scholarly Publishing Annual Conference.

Here’s an excerpt:

Prior to the debate, a text-message polling system was used to take the temperature of the room. At the start, 56% felt that reference books and journals would endure, 35% felt they would perish, and 9% were unsure.

Crawford and Fisher defended the role of expertise, stressed the relative immutability of the functions of the reference book and journal in both academic life and intellectual output, spoke to the power of the tenure and promotion system in a publish-or-perish culture, and underscored the importance of trusted brands in an information realm that is exploding with choice.

O’Leary and I observed that while research reporting and reference works are still important, their containers are changing, evolving from time-limited and space-limited entities into updated, boundless, and interactive forms we’re still exploring. These changes will change editorial and authorship functions, and are already changing how readers access and evaluate content.

Many familiar themes were sounded during the debate, including:

  • Expertise vs. elitism
  • Trust networks vs. brand power
  • Linking vs. referencing
  • Crowd-sourcing vs. editorial control
  • Motivations vs. inducements
  • Timeliness vs. thoroughness
  • Relevance vs. trust

So, what do you think? Will reference books and journals survive? How is your library handling this question?

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News

Welcoming Two New Members

We’re excited to add two new members to the RLA CE committee! A big part of what we do is stay on top of new developments and trends in libraries, so it’s important for us to add new perspectives as we plan future programs. Join us in welcoming Maggie Hommel and Leah White!

Maggie Hommel is the Reader Services Manager at the Park Ridge Public Library. Formerly a young adult librarian, she is interested in how technology and books can work together, video games as learning tools, and making the library a vital part of users’ lives. She has taught at Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development, and enjoys speaking about and promoting libraries.

Leah White is the Readers Services Librarian at the Morton Grove Public Library and a co-founder of the Chicago Deskset. She created the Young Librarian Series and when she has time rants on La de da. She also tries to write an occasional article. When she isn’t librarianing she enjoys riding her bike on the lake front path, hanging out at Unabridged Bookstore or playing with her dog Shinji.
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News

Your Interests

Back in May, we asked you to keep in touch with us by registering for email notifications. Besides your name and email, we asked you to tell us what topics interest you so that we can make sure we’re bringing you programs that matter. We received 68 responses so far and here’s what you told us!

Did we miss anything? What other topics are you interested in?

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News

@rla_ce

Like the rest of the planet, we’re now on Twitter. Follow us at @rla_ce and you’ll get news about upcoming programs, links to must-read articles about libraries, and more! Not on Twitter? Well, surely you must be on Facebook! “Like us” on Facebook at http://facebook.com/rlacecommittee.

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News

Tell Us What You’re Interested In

After our usual time off during the summer, our committee will soon be meeting to plan more programs for local library staff. We have a ton of ideas, but we’d like to hear from you about what you’re interested in. What topics are most important to you and your library? What issues are concerning you? Who are the speakers (local or national) you’d most like to hear in-person? Leave a comment and let us know what you’re thinking!

Also, don’t forget to sign up for one of the following three options to keep updated on what we’re doing:

  1. Sign-up for our own RLA CE email list. By signing up, you will receive news about upcoming programs. We promise not to share your email with anyone else.
  2. Click on “Subscribe in a reader” or “Subscribe by email” on the upper right-hand sidebar of our website to be notified of new blog posts.
  3. Join us on our Facebook page and receive updates on upcoming programs.
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News

Important Announcement

As many of you know, the RLA CE (Continuing Education) Committee is a group of librarians dedicated to bringing free programs of interest to the North Suburban Library community. We are independently funded and operated from NSLS and are planning on continuing to offer these educational programs beginning again in the fall. These programs will be even more important now that NSLS will cease offering continuing education programs.

Since the NSLS CoPs (Communities of Practice) listservs will no longer be available by the end of May, we would like to encourage you to sign up for one of the following three options to keep updated on what we’re doing.

  1. Sign-up for our own RLA CE email list. By signing up, you will receive news about upcoming programs. We promise not to share your email with anyone else.
  2. Click on “Subscribe in a reader” or “Subscribe by email” on the upper right-hand sidebar of our website to be notified of new blog posts.
  3. Join us on our Facebook page and receive updates on upcoming programs.

If you have questions or suggestions for future programs, please contact us!

Finally, our committee truly appreciates all the assistance the staff at NSLS has provided us throughout the years. We wish everyone at NSLS nothing but the best in these difficult times.

Sincerely,

Jane Malik (co-chair) Oakton Community College, Des Plaines

Nancy Wagner (co-chair) Wilmette Public Library

Melissa Dessent

Steven Jablonski Skokie Public Library

Richard Kong Skokie Public Library

Gwyn Stupar Northbrook Public Library

Alex Todd Prospect Heights Public Library

Christina Tropea Des Plaines Public Library

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News Programs

Rachel Singer Gordon program canceled

Due to low registration and recent news about the future of NSLS, the RLA CE committee has decided to postpone the “Career Building in a Down Economy” program originally scheduled for June 8. We will try to reschedule this program for sometime in the fall of this year, so please keep your eye on this website for a new date.

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News

We’re on Facebook!

facebook_logoAlong with the rest of the known universe, the RLA CE Committee is now on Facebook! Become a fan and receive updates on events and other news. You won’t regret it!

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News

RLA CE is on the web!

Welcome to RLA CE Committee’s new website!

You might be wondering, what is RLA CE exactly? Well, the RLA stands for Reference Librarians Association and the CE stands for Continuing Education. Our committee seeks to provide continuing education opportunities for all librarians in the greater Chicago area. In the past, we’ve arranged fun and informative field trips to various libraries and archives in the Chicago area. We’ve also brought in some exciting speakers to talk about the best information resources out there and the future of libraries.

This website will provide basic information about the committee and its members, our upcoming programs, and our past programs. Let us know what you want to see here and we’ll do our best to provide it. Use the contact form to send us ideas for future programs you’d like to see!