Crash Course in Contemporary Reference
by Francisca Goldsmith
October 2016, 183pp, 8 1/2x11
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-4408-4481-2
$50, £39, 44€, A69
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-4482-9
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

This book is effective as a broad introduction for those new to reference as well as a refresher for experienced reference librarians.

A fresh, detailed, and thoughtful examination of reference services in the context of evolving community information needs and habits, a changing technological landscape, and new search strategies.

Professional practices in the field of library reference services have changed dramatically in the past decade in response to shrinking print reference collections and evolving technology, search strategies, and user needs and interests. This new guide explains all the basics of reference services, covering resource types and awareness of their appropriate uses, collection development and maintenance techniques that support reference service work, the latest online searching techniques, and best practices for service interactions through various platforms, including email, chat, text, phone, and face to face. Additionally, it addresses reference service ethics; communication and conducting reference interviews; important policies related to reference service development, provision, and maintenance; alternative reference service delivery points now in use; and professional service provider networking.

Both experienced reference librarians and those new to reference service will benefit from in-depth coverage of recent changes in online reference resources and print-based resources, guidelines for authoritative evaluation of web-based resources, explanations of online catalog searching skills, and tips for reference web page construction. The book also contains an expanded section on making digitized collections accessible and relevant; information on the growing need of members of the general population for help with various federal government access programs ranging from Veterans Affairs and Social Security to health care access, income tax regulation fulfillment, and immigrant documentation; and explanations of copyright in the digital sphere of resource use and transfer.


  • Offers librarians new to reference services an easy-to-follow, up-to-date, and complete overview of the field in practical terms
  • Provides current information that will help librarians keep abreast of new resources, evolving patron needs and interests, and emerging best practices
  • Serves as an accessible and affordable guide for workshops and in-service trainings
Francisca Goldsmith, MLIS, designs and presents curricula in a number of library and information service areas, including contemporary reference methods, following a career that has included public and academic professional positions in reference services and teen services, as well as management positions related to collections and to branch services. Goldsmith is the author of six professional books and has contributed to many others. She earned her master's degree in library and information science at Simmons College and has worked in California, Massachusetts, Nova Scotia, and Maine. Goldsmith blogs at
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