Web-scale discovery tools like Summon are becoming the norm at academic libraries across North America. How much do these tools simplify discovery? What changes do they bring to the provision of reference service? At Royal Roads University, where most students complete graduate degrees through distance study, I applied the READ scale to reference questions received by email in the year before and the two years after we adopted Summon. Comparing the questions over time, and analyzing reference statistics, I reflect on changes brought on by discovery layers and what they mean for the future.
Our profession has known for a long time that the traditional reference model is flawed. Constance Mellon coined the term library anxiety in 1986, reporting that students literally felt shame when approaching librarians for help. Yikes. That’s a strong feeling, one we don’t want librarians to evoke.
In a few years, E-LIS has been established as the largest international open repository in the field of library and information science. Searching or browsing E-LIS is a kind of multilingual, multicultural experience, an example of what could be accomplished through open access archives to bring the people of the world together. Because librarians are so involved in open access advocacy, E-LIS is a key to encourage open access for all repositories, by giving librarians the experience they need to speak with confidence when talking with researchers and open access archives, and the experience to provide the best possible assistance to self-archiving faculty.
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