- The Reference Function of the Modern Library
- No.2, p.173-187
The following factors, which seem to inhibit the development of reference work in Japanese libraries, are discussed: (1) the practice of disregarding social conditions in providing reference service; (2) the obscurity of the concept “reference work”; (3) the lack of familiarity with library use on the part of the clientele served; (4) the deficiency of adequate reference tools; and (5) the shortage of staff adequately prepared in librarianship.
It is necessary to consider reference services in relation to the whole function of the library. In Japanese libraries, the function of preservation was stressed at the expense of the use of the collection until recent times. Most old libraries are thought of as scholarly, and are organized almost exclusively for the scholar for purposes of reference and research. The scholar did not need any personal assistance by the librarian. There are clear-cut distinctions between the old library and the newly established modern library in Japan. The reference function must be understood as an indispensable function for the modern library. The characteristic function of reference work is to adjust the individual needs of library users to the library’s whole purpose through personal aid.
Accordingly, it is essential for the reference librarian to understand the information gathering habits of the present library users in order to cope with their needs effectively. The special library which is providing an active information service offers other types of libraries with many suggestions as to improving reference services. The future increase in the use of mechanized techniques for the preparation and development of bibliographic tools will assist with the advancement of reference work.
(Japan Library School)
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