- Reference Work as the Axis for the Modernization of the University Library
- No.3, p.267-279
There is no real difference in reference work from one kind of library to another. Reference work in university libraries is characterized by the function of the university. The university is an institute engaged in both research and education. Reference work in university libraries, therefore, involves both informational and instructional functions, being both hardly differentiated. Each of these two functions is stressed with varying emphasis according to the difference in the practical needs.
The increasing specialization of knowledge and expanding need for information have consequently required the establishment of scientific libraries for collection and storage. It is mainly in the scientific libraries that focused attention on the informational aspect of reference work. Scientific libraries are different in their nature from traditional university libraries, but a new operational mode of scientific concept of the function of university libraries was found in the libraries.
The idea of Japanese universities was rooted in the European system and the faculty has insisted upon having separate libraries of the nature of various research institutes in German universities. Those libraries were in most cases quite independent of the main university library. There was no organized reference work in Japanese university libraries before the second World War when librarians were chiefly regarded as custodians. The users rarely relied on the librarian’s knowledge. To improve this situation it is necessary for all librarians to form a network with the main university library as its center, and subject specialization should be developed in reference work for faculty and graduate students.
The instructional function of reference work in university libraries was affected by the changes in the educational system after the second World War. As a rule, university libraries in Japan kept their traditional scheme of providing reading rooms. Many private university libraries, however, gradually began to set up separate reference departments, and national university libraries followed them. But library staff and faculty rarely discuss their views together on learning activities of the student, and the librarian’s task of instructing the student in pursuit of information is consequently hindered. This situation cannot be improved without the cooperation of all interests involved.
In these days it is required for universities in Japan to meet increased enrolments and improve the quality of education. The solution seems to be found to encourage independent study by students using the library. But, unfortunately, many university libraries are faced with the problem of those students who make use of the library only to study their own books. Accordingly, the real task of the librarian at present is to train the inexperienced students to use the library effectively. At the same time, it is necessary to investigate the actual function of the university and to provide library services suitable for them.
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