The reference librarian as non-expert: a postmodern approach to expertise

This article explores the postmodern psychotherapeutic view of the therapist as a non-expert. The author seeks to draw an analogy between the professional expertise and knowledge of the reference librarian and the expertise of the psychotherapist, with special reference to the postmodern idea of the posture of non-expertise. Reference librarians will provide a higher degree of user satisfaction to patrons when the reference interview is approached as a collaborative and dialogic process that is grounded in the attitude of non-expertise. The stance of the reference librarian as non-expert will move the profession of librarianship away from the technocrat/expert model and back towards its earlier mission of service and human-centered values.