Greg (of Open Stacks) brings up a great topic:
"You know what I find lacking in the LIS blogosphere? I see a fair amount of writing that mentions different reference transactions (refgrunt, anyone?), but I never learn anything about how our diverse collection of information professionals goes about handling these situations.
What proved the be the best source for "the history of music in Oregon during the 1850's?" What sources would you in fact recommend for a patron "researching public health policies?"
Why don't we share more? Maybe we're not willing to have our techniques scrutinized by other so-called experts. That's understandable, but at the same time, I'd like to think I can be accountable for the guidance I provide. Plus, by sharing our approaches with the blogosphere, we're likely to hear alternate ideas from our brilliant cohorts. Perhaps there'll be some lively debate. Who can say for sure? All I know is that we have a lot to teach each other, the kind of insight you just can't get in a few hours of a grad school course.
We have an opportunity to propagate more than our opinions about Ashcroft and OCLC (although these are clearly worthwhile pursuits that I have no intention of abandoning). Rather than saying over and over again that free-web search engines are not necessarily the best approach, let's start demonstrating it. We are not guardians of arcane knowledge, but information guides of the first order. So quit guarding your knowledge and let the guide in you shine through."
Needless to say, Greg got my attention for a couple of reasons. The first being that the first reference question above is one I had from a recent session at Answerland. The second being, he's totally right. As a complete beginner, as someone who hasn't had a single reference class (yet, I can't wait for it; next term I think), I'm a little shy about sharing but what the heck. In general, I seem to have a "talent" for searching things out. And when I can't find the exact information requested, I usually get people pointed in the right direction.
In this particular case, I did indeed us Google and came up with this set of results (and warned the patron that he would have to sift through those results quite a bit) and these results. I wasn't really happen with either so I strongly recommended that the patron follow up with someone at the University of Oregon, School of Music. The patron, however, seemed satisfied with what I found for him. Perhaps (as we were somewhat co-browsing), he learned enough to feel confidant about performing additional searches on his own. Or perhaps, he was just being polite.
So, are you willing to share? To teach? To learn? And if so, should we create a dedicated space?
Count me in on all accounts.