Columbia University Libraries Hosts 6th “Reference in the 21st Century Symposium: ‘Beyond the Desk’”

NEW YORK, March 27, 2008 The Columbia University Libraries Reference Coordinating Committee hosted the symposium, “Beyond the Desk” on March 14, in the Columbia Business School’s Uris Hall. This was the 6th “Reference in the 21st Century” symposium that Columbia Libraries has hosted since 2001. This year, Columbia again invited representatives of large private academic research libraries in the Northeast to share ideas, plans, and concerns about reference services. A complete program with transcripts of the presentations can be found at:

Panelists at the 6th Reference in the 21st Century Symposium Panelists from left to right: Karyn Hinkle, Bard Graduate Center; Linda Rath, Baruch College; Trevor Dawes, Princeton University, Leigh Gusts, Council on Foreign Relations ; and Jane Winland, Columbia University

Joe Janes, Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Academics at the Information School at the University of Washington, delivered the keynote address at the symposium. Dr. Janes discussed how research librarians can serve as technologists and scholars simultaneously, and encouraged reference librarians to focus on their strengths and not fight the Google culture. Commenting on the success of the symposium, Dr. Janes said, “The forum was good for examining a wider range of views than are usually considered at library conferences.”

Patricia Renfro, Deputy University Librarian, welcomed more than 100 reference librarians, heads of reference departments, and public service managers from Brown University, Cornell University, Harvard University, New York University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Rutgers University, Stanford University, and Yale University.

The symposium featured three contributed papers. The first, on "The Accidental Producer:  Using Hidden Talents to Extend Reference via Podcasts" featured Kaila Bussert, Special Projects Librarian, Michael O. Engle, Reference Librarian, and Susette Newberry, Outreach Coordinator and Usability Librarian, Department of Collections, Reference, Instruction, & Outreach, Olin Library, Cornell University. The second, on “Implementing the IM-possible:  Yale University Librarians Welcome Meebo” featured Kelly Barrick, Coordinator, Reference and Instruction, Librarian for Gay and Lesbian Studies and Womens Studies, Social Science Libraries, and Hannah Bennett, Interim Assistant Director, Art and Architecture Library, Yale University Libraries, Yale University, and the third, “Get Out There, But Don’t Close the Desk Yet: Librarians in the Classroom, on Campus, on the Street, and, Yes, Even in the Library” by Laura Farwell Blake, Research Librarian & Liaison to the Department of English and American Language and Literature, and Elizabeth McKeigue, Research Librarian & Liaison to the Department of Celtic, Germanic, and Slavic Languages and Literature, Harvard College Library, Harvard University. Jill Parchuck, Director of the Social Science Libraries, Yale University moderated the three presentations.

An afternoon panel discussion explored generational differences between librarians and user groups, and featured Trevor Dawes, Circulation Services Director, Princeton University; Leigh Gusts, Director of Library and Research Services, Council on Foreign Relations; Karyn Hinkle, Reader Services Librarian, Bard Graduate Center; Linda Rath, Graduate Services Librarian, Baruch College; and Jane Winland, Director of Social Sciences Libraries, Columbia University. Jennifer Rutner, Assessment and Marketing Librarian at Columbia University, moderated the panel.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 10 million volumes, over 100,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 25 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries at is the gateway to its services and resources.

03/27/08 LMK