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Notes from Reference Interview Training

Posted by Pagan Librarian on February 23, 2013

This week I attended a day-long seminar about the “Reference Interview,” or, the process of how we librarians figure out exactly what it is you’re looking for. Being well-acclamated from the point of my professional job allowed me to free up my mind to think about the seminar from the “Pagan Librarian” blog perspective. Below are my jumble of notes and food for thought, posted here more for my own use than my readers. But if something sparks an idea, comment, feedback, or inquiry, I’d love to hear it!

“Every library serves a distinct community. The decisions we make should be based on the community we serve.” How to best serve the Pagan community. What are the information needs of the Pagan community? What are they looking for, what do they want to know?

We used to be information isolated… materials not widely known of or available. How has that changed today? Now we are bombarded, how to sort through to find credible, reliable, useful, relevant, important works?

Purpose for the Blog/ of the Librarian

  1. Information Literacy; instruct in the ways of the library; instruct how to use the library (to locate pagan-related information/material)
  2. Answer Queries/Questions
  3. Aid in the selection of good/reliable/credible works; Readers Advisory services
  4. Promote the library in the (Pagan) community; Outreach and Marketing.

Topic: Barriers to asking for help to seek information
Do you feel comfortable asking someone to help you locate Pagan-related material? Who do you go to for information, why and why not?
Physical barriers – lack of computers access, materials, or resource locations (storefronts, library, etc). Distance
Psychological barriers – local demographic, stigma, fear of social judgement (how prevalent is this still?), fear of failure or admitting failure (“I couldn’t find it on my own, I must be stupid to have to ask for help”)

Also, website accessibility.

  • How did you conduct your research?
  • Where did you go, who helped you locate information?
  • What lengths did you go to find information
  • What would have made your research easier?
  • What sources/materials did you use, what databases?
  • What gaps do you feel exist in Pagan Studies? Where does more research need to be done?
  • What resources do we need?
  • What would you like to find?
  • What libraries carry the most pagan/religious material?
  • List of blogs, Twitter users, podcasts, websites, businesses
  • Where do you go to gather information: family, friends, organizations, library, personal experience, internet, bookstore (physical location or online)

Contact other librarians, authors, researchers, etc – phone or email interview.
Gathering food for thought; may or may not be a need; investigating, curiosity, shooting in the dark, gathering information, searching for a direction where I can be useful, focus my work.

Database creation – Citation database
This database would contain titles of books that have been cited by other works; would show how many times an author or title is cited in other works. Title, author, publisher, date, call #, multiple links to other titles as biography list. Source: begin with books in current personal library and cull through sources/bibliography lists in back.

Database creation – Pagan publication of journal/magazine articles
Ideally would be a resource containing digital copies of articles in Pagan publications, much like Academic OneFile, or Gale, etc. Title of article, author, publisher, magazine title, Issue, volume, Pagination, Date, Type (poetry, short article, feature article, column, interview, study, etc)
–Call Magazines – Are there digital versions available – through what source? Is it currently listed in database? Do you have an interest in being archived in a database? (Copyright also)
–Contact existing databases about their process of adding resources to their digital archives.

Digital scanner
Google Books
What vendors, publishers, etc, would be of interest to the Pagan community at library conferences?


2 Responses to “Notes from Reference Interview Training”

  1. Dragua said

    I think a database for all things Pagan would be fantastic. I think the poems shod be included too. Speaking of which…do you have any of the poems that made it around a few years ago about a maiden gave birth to trees & daughters and all of a sudden there was a boy born? Also one about the first yule and there were all the animals of the forest waking up to see the Sun God reborn. Thanks.


  2. Vincent Colfer said

    My wife and I own a pagan gift store, but we also have a small pagan library. Any advice on the best way to organize it to best serve the community? I tried by subject first but it got confusing when teaching books met several different categories. Next I tried by author and now we can’t find anything lol. Is there a database or something that would help?

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