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Reference reviewed and re-envisioned: Revamping librarian and desk-centric services with LibStARs and LibAnswers

The first section of this article reviews the literature on the changing face of reference, beginning with a discussion of the national decline in reference transactions, its causes, and the likelihood that online reference services might one day halt or reverse the decline. It then analyzes definitions of the term "reference," pointing to a disconnect between those definitions and much of the work that actually takes place at reference desks. Next, critiques of desk-centric models of reference are examined, followed by a discussion of the persistence of the desk in so many academic libraries today. The analysis of the literature in section one informs the re-envisioning of reference services at CPP discussed in section two. Specifically, section two describes and assesses CPP's reference desk staffing shift from librarians to LibStARs (Library Student Assistant Researchers) and our implementation of LibAnswers in an effort to automate some reference transactions. The paper ends with an overview of the benefits of these new initiatives.

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