Reference Service is being challenged by twain: viz. invisible technologies and end-users' need for information everyware. What is this all about?
For an answer see the creative visulation, The Ubiquitous Reference Model by Brian Mathews at Georgia Institute of Technology
A comment on this model from The Distant Librarian (i.e., Paul R. Pival)'s mind, gives you a direct lead on what is the impact of this ubiquitousness:
He created an account at Xanga and LiveJournal - first as a library, but later as his human incarnation. For the purposes of his study he subscribed to the RSS feeds of 20 GT student blogs at those sites (explained in the paper). But what he's done that seems really innovative to me is that he's using the Bloglines keyword alert feature to monitor the postings in each of those student blogs for words such as assignment, library, help, paper, project, etc.
And this gets to the core of Brian's thinking that "we need to get out from behind the desk and help students when and where they need it." Surely in your physical library you don't just wait at the reference desk for poor souls to come to you. Every once in a while you wander around the computers, and even occasionally offer assistance to someone who looks obviously lost, right? What do you think of this idea?
It never ceases to amaze as to what professionals in the internet
industries do not know about bibliographic databases and website
indexing sources on the internet that are free to the entire public." David Dillard
From the Future of Reference Services Papers:
A decade ago I posited a Sixth Law, an extension of S.R. Ranganathan's Five Laws of Library Science. At the time I conceived that Sixth Law--"Every reader his freedom"--as applicable only to the type of service (i.e., instruction or provision of information). Today it also applies to the mode of delivery-in-person, telephone, online-and tomorrow to holographic interactions and 3-D virtual reality ...
We have been serving the "Net Generation." The students who entered college as 18-year-olds in 1993 were entering Kindergarten when the Nintendo craze swept the nation. They could barely remember a time that they did not interact with and control images on a screen. Every year since then our entering students have brought with them greater comfort with technology as well as greater confidence, justified or not, in their ability to use it well. We are now serving the IM (i.e., instant messaging) generation. Some of them add SmarterChild to their AOL IM buddies list; they ask it questions, receive guidance to relevant Web sites, and play interactive games of Hangman with SmarterChild. Their familiarity with information technology has spawned values we dare not ignore. Those values are immediacy, interactivity, personalization, and mobility... Continue reading: "Technology, Cluelessness, Anthropology, and the Memex: The Future of Academic Reference Service," by James Rettig
See also my previous post on Search Engines and Information Professions