I just came from my final exam for my youth services reference course, it is good to have it over with so I can focus on the summer reading club. The questions focused on all the typical things that such reference classes do: electronic databases, reference interviews, and different types of reference materials. However, having worked the past couple of months at the reference desk in the youth services department, I know that this is really a small part of the REAL questions that we get asked.
Here are is a small sampling of the most typical information needs that people had when they came into the children’s department:
*I’m looking for my daughter/mother/father/son/small Martian
*Where are the bathrooms/drinking fountain/computers/dvds?
*Have you seen my bag/headphones/jacket?
*Do you have a copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid/The Clique/Twilight?
The only question on the exam that came close to this was about the three types of reference interviews–saying that directional questions are not part of this–I had to add that they are probably among the most common received.
What are your most commonly asked questions?
I am still in the midst of preparing for my new job–which I start Monday–and working on my reference project. So I have more fun reference sources for my core collection–these are internet links that I think will provide good sources for directing students when working on their homework. It is always hard to know without actually trying them out on kids, but here are a few that I’ve found:
Math Forums @ Drexel:
Presidents of the United States
Factmonster Language Arts
Multimedia Grammar Glossary
Especies Fact Sheets
Windows to the Universe
All Science Fair Projects
The World Factbook
Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government for Kids
I’m currently taking a four week class called “Reference Services for Youth” and our main project is to create a core reference collection of about 30-34 works both print, electronic, and hopefully audio visual. Personally, I am not sure of what the professor means by “reference” as she sometimes seems to refer to all non-fiction books and other times to refer to a distinct sub-set of non-fiction. Regardless, I am finding this particular assignment to be very helpful, and am creating a core reference collection for the homework help center.
Since the homework help center is a distinct area within a larger branch, it doesn’t need a full complement of reference materials. Students can bring reference materials into the center from other parts of the library, and certainly if there was a project that all the students were working on that needed a specific set of books, we could move them temporarily into the center. This said, there are some basic print reference materials that we could keep in the center for use of the students.
In deciding which materials to include, I’m trying to select works that can be used by the broadest range of students in the largest amount of projects. Since the library system has a lot of amazing databases, I will work on marketing those as well.
Here is the tentative list:
Random House Webster’s unabridged dictionary 2005 423 R1948r2, 2005
Macmillan dictionary for children 2007 423 M16, 2007
The American heritage student thesaurus 2007 423.1 H477s, 2007
The Facts on File dictionary of mathematics 2005 510.3 F142f4
Larousse French-English, English-French dictionary 2007 443.21 L332, 2007
Bilingual visual dictionary – French 2005 443.21 B595
Collins Spanish dictionary 2006 463.21 C7123c3
Grammar essentials 2006 428.2 G7451g3
Ready, set, write! :a student writer’s handbook for school and home 808.02 R287
The World Book Encyclopedia 2008 031 W92, 2008 Almanacs
The World almanac and book of facts 2008 031.02 W927
The world almanac for kids” 2008 031.02 W9273
“School atlas–DK” 2007 912 S421s, 2007 Historical Works
Opposing viewpoints in American history 2007 973 OPP
This is just a start–I’m still thinking that I’d like a general science reference work, but I’m undecided on what would be general enough for the largest variety of students and assignments and not take up too much shelf space. In case you are wondering about the two French dictionaries, we have two French immersion schools in our service area, both k-8, so it seemed reasonable.