Reference and Information Services: An Introduction, Fifth Edition—eEditions PDF e-book

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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the authors
  • Reviews

Keeping pace with the rapidly shifting environment for all information services workers, in this book Cassell and Hiremath provide readers with the knowledge and tools needed to manage the ebb and flow of reference services in today's libraries.

From the ongoing flood of misinformation to the swift changes occasioned by the pandemic, a myriad of factors is spurring our profession to rethink reference services. Luckily, this classic text is back in a newly overhauled edition that thoughtfully addresses the evolving reference landscape. Designed to complement every introductory library reference course, Cassell and Hiremath's book also serves as the perfect resource to guide current practitioners in their day-to-day work. It teaches failsafe methods for identifying important materials by matching specific types of questions to the best available sources, regardless of format. Guided by a national advisory board of educators and experts, this thoroughly updated text presents chapters covering fundamental concepts, major reference sources, and special topics while also offering fresh insights on timely issues, including

  • a basic template for the skills required and expectations demanded of the reference librarian;
  • the pandemic’s effect on reference services and how the ingenuity employed by libraries in providing remote and virtual reference is here to stay;
  • a new chapter dedicated to health information, with a special focus on health equity and information sources;
  • selecting and evaluating reference materials, with strategies for keeping up to date;
  • a heightened emphasis on techniques for evaluating sources for misinformation and ways to give library users the tools to discern facts vs. “fake facts”;
  • reference as programming, readers’ advisory services, developmentally appropriate material for children and young adults, and information literacy;
  • evidence-based guidance on handling microaggressions in reference interactions, featuring discussions of cultural humility and competence alongside recommended resources on implicit bias;
  • managing, assessing, and improving reference services; and
  • the future of information and reference services, encapsulating existing models, materials, and services to project possible evolutions in the dynamic world of reference.

Examination copies are available for instructors who are interested in adopting this title for course use. Adopting this textbook for a course? Email for supplementary PowerPoint slides.

List of Figures and Tables

PART I    Fundamental Concepts
1    Introduction to Reference and Information Services
2    Determining the Question: In-Person, Telephone, and Virtual Reference Interviews
3    Finding the Answer: Basic Search Techniques

PART II    Introduction to Major Reference Sources
4    Answering Questions about Books, Magazines, Newspapers, Libraries and Publishing, and Bibliographic Networks—Bibliographic Resources 
5    Answering Questions about Anything and Everything—Encyclopedias
6    Answering Questions That Require Handy Facts—Ready Reference Sources
7    Answering Questions about Words—Dictionaries, Concordances, and Manuals
8    Answering Questions about Current Events, Issues and Research Topics—Databases (and Indexes) 
9    Answering Questions about Law and Business—Special Guidelines and Sources
10    Answering Questions about Health—Special Guidelines and Sources
Emily Vardell
11    Answering Questions about Geography, Countries, and Travel—Atlases, Gazetteers, Maps, Geographic Information Systems, and Travel Guides
12    Answering Questions about the Lives of People—Biographical Information Sources
13    Answering Questions about Government and Related Issues—Government Information Sources

PART III    Special Topics in Reference and Information Services
14    When and How to Use the Internet as the Primary Reference Tool
15    Reference as Programming
16    Readers’ Advisory Services
Maria Fesz and Cindy Orr
17    Reference Services for Children and Young Adults
Melissa Gross
18    Information Literacy in the Reference Department

Part IV    Developing and Managing Reference Collections and Services
19    Selecting and Evaluating Reference Material
20    Managing Reference Departments
21    Assessing and Improving Reference Services
22    Ethics in Reference
Diana Floegel
23    Reference 2.0
24    The Future of Information and Reference Services


  • Appendix A    RUSA Outstanding Reference Sources 2012–2022
  • Appendix B    RUSA Definition of Reference

About the Authors and Contributors
Index of Reference Resources
Subject Index

Kay Ann Cassell

Kay Ann Cassell is presently an adjunct professor at the Rutgers University Department of Library and Information Science where she teaches a variety of courses including reference and  information services, collection development, public librarianship and government information resources. She has worked in public and academic libraries. She has been the director of several public libraries and was the Associate Director for Collections and Services at the New York Public Library. As NYPL’s Associate Director of Collections and Services she oversaw the development of reference, collections, programs and services for all of the branches and initiated new programs and services. She received her MLS from Rutgers University and her PhD from the International University for Graduate Studies. She is the author of Managing Reference Today and Public Libraries and Their Communities, and she was selected as the 2019 winner of the Isadore Gilbert Mudge Award, the Reference and User Services Association’s highest honor.

Uma Hiremath

Uma Hiremath is Assistant Director of Public Services at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. She was formerly Executive Director at the Ames Free Library, Massachusetts; Assistant Director at the Thayer Public Library, Massachusetts; Head of Reference at the West Orange Public Library, New Jersey; and Supervising Librarian at the New York Public Library. She received her MLS from Pratt Institute, New York and her PhD in political science at the University of Pittsburgh.

”[This] classic text continues to be a go-to source for all things reference ... The sections on subject areas are especially helpful and include resources pertaining to law and business, geography, health information, and biographical information. Readers may be intrigued by the section on 'Reference as Programming,' which suggests different ways to help users navigate library resources ... Essential for library schools and valuable for academic libraries and larger public ones."
— Library Journal

Praise for the fifth edition

"The [contributed chapters] were extremely well done ... I will continue to use Cassell and Hiremath for my reference classes (especially this new edition).”
— Christopher C. Brown, Professor and Reference Librarian, University of Denver

"The way the book is organized is thoughtful and accessible. The work is a solid blend of theory, practical advice, and real-world examples. As a public library administrator, I really appreciate the chapter about reference work for children and young adults authored by an expert.”
— Jane E. Fisher, Director, Wallingford Public Library

Praise for previous editions

”Librarians and library educators will want to update their own copies and consider assigning them as textbooks to LIS students. Essential."

”Helpful figures illustrate the many types of resources and platforms reference librarians are likely to encounter. Throughout the authors emphasize assisting users and, more important, teaching them to become skilled and savvy researchers. Libraries of all kinds will find this text is worth adding to their shelves."