Facebook social Q&A service is the harbinger of the death of reference


Facebook social Q&A service is the harbinger of the death of reference

"Not that this Facebook service specifically will kill reference. But the fact that Facebook has jumped on the Q&A bandwagon is a signal that the last nail on the coffin of library reference was put in place some time ago. Just when that happened is irrelevant. The salient point here is that Facebook entering the Q&A market is like the NY Times reporting on Steampunk: a sure sign that that ship has sailed."


The sort of things put on the Q&A sites are banal things that are often most likely opinons, like what is the best chinese restuarant? Or where can I get the cheapest deal on an ibook or even more banal stuff like why do women like Robert Patterson (things I have already seen on FB).

And these things generally could be answered with a few seconds of searching. It's got nothing to do with libraries whatsoever. Answering 'queries' like this is a tiny part of libraries work. I can't see people posting 'where can I find the blue book on Churchill I saw last week?' or asking for an inter-library loan for something that is only available through the National library system.

Although there was one accurate bit in there, that when it's being reported on, it's over and it's no longer of importance.

I seem to recall that this was the same rationale rolled out when Yahoo Answers came on the scene. Now there are blogs and sites online dedicated to one thing and one thing only, funny and stupid questions asked on Yahoo Answers. "How is babby formed? How girl get pragnent?" and "Are midgets real?" are a couple favourites.

Anyone remember Cha-Cha? That was going to kill reference too. As was the ineptly named Knowledge Generation Bureau (KGB).

That doesn't mean that reference librarians should lay low and be satisfied that nothing will ever happen to outdate them. Keep in mind that Facebook Q&A, Yahoo Answers, ChaCha, and KGB are doing things that reference librarians should already be doing, answering questions online and via cellular networks. Thing is, if someone sets up a social Q&A service, why shouldn't it be a reference librarian? And for that social circle, instead of gathering together the whole of the Internet to help answer questions, round up other reference librarians. Kind of like Stumpers-L but a little more real time.

Just sayin'.

Some books contain the machinery required to create and sustain universes. Tycho (Jerry Holkins) @ Penny Arcade

You have to make these assumptions
1) Person uses Facebook
2) They use Facebook for more than sharing pictures with family and playing Farmville
3) They have heard about this Facebook Q&A service
4) They actually use the service

as you read the article, there are so many qualifiers that the author finally says almost nothing.

facebook is great for sending virtual donuts to strangers, but MOST library services happen with our patrons and local services. we are LOCAL.

so yeah, 10 years from now, this might be a problem, if everyone is has some device screwed into their skulls and we exist in pods, but not an issue today, tomorrow, or for the next few years.

Come to my library sometime and tell me that reference is dead. It's a near constant flow. I have two phone messages, several email messages, and at least one customer in the building waiting for answers to questions ranging from what is the term of a U.S. Ambassador to where can I find the best local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.
And this is not abnormal.