The libraries are a source of knowledge and they have been linked to wisdom historically. It was a great thing to visit library (surely it is even today) and the people owning their personal libraries were considered most honored in the society. However, with the increase in population, the concept of public libraries became more popular and by mid-20th century, the public libraries were the biggest help for the researchers that wanted to access knowledge pertaining to various different areas of education. The research librarian used to be a post that helped the researchers find their specific source in book, articles, magazines and web. The post still exists but not everywhere. These research librarians were considered as helpful, even more, as the tourist guides in foreign country. This paper studies the role of research librarian and the way they help research questions.
Location of study
Millions of people in the world are connected to the field of research in one way or the other. These people need access to knowledge that can be openly available or not. There are some books that are available only in some lucky libraries and also there are some academic websites that can only be accessed from the machines in a school or university. Thus, a research on research librarians was carried out in an area that is very active in respect of research i.e. Massachusetts, USA. One academic and one public library was visited that helped in understanding the mechanism of research too. Thousands of researchers and students visit these libraries every day and the research librarians offer those help in finding their relevant information. These areas are very much involved in the research and helping research of other entities and individuals too.
The research librarians were assessed based on the observation how they responded to the question:
How do I cite a website in my research paper bibliography?
The junior researchers and the students are normally not sure about how to use the web sources and then how to cite those resources in their reports. There are many formats and referencing styles, and the librarian can explain all or few selected of these to the student or the junior researcher.
Overview of experience
It is believed today that Google has enabled us to know about virtually anything we want and to get access to a world of knowledge. Yet, it sounds easier to explore Twitter but not the financial data of a company over last 30 years, even a step ahead, it seems almost an 'impossible' task to find out the samples of poetry by the poets that where peers of Shakespeare. These are the resources that either lie only with public libraries, museums or the academic libraries. Thus the research librarian assists the students and researchers to find their desired information on the web as well as hard material. Schulte (2011) says that with the passage of time, the traditional librarian reference desk services were eliminated from libraries including many health libraries. The research by Schulte on the role and importance of the research librarians stated that number of reference transactions enhanced when the research librarians were replaced by the technology but some researchers and students really took very long to get used to the technology (Ross, 2003). While the future of reference services has question mark in many libraries, the customers are assisted by these librarians since they can guide them to use different sources. This fact was found true because in our research we found that the research librarians used to give use the specific answer but to know about the citation of website in a report, the internet offers multiple-page report that takes hours to read it. On the other hand when the research librarian was asked the same question, she offered guidance in less than five minutes. While the public library in our research was satisfied with the performance of the research librarian, the dean of the university suggested that the student only initially takes longer when he explores a new thing and then his speed increases in exploring data and information by himself. The university believes in making students independent rather dependent on the other individuals. Even in the public library, when asked, the librarian replied that seeing reduction in number of research librarians in the library, she does not hope that the post will be held very long.
The cost benefit analysis of research librarian is also studied by Merkley (2009) who says that the libraries are finding it costly to maintain academic reference desk that train research librarians to answer reference questions. The librarians need a level of qualification and training that is a cost which can be avoided by placing the responsibility of research on the researcher alone and offering him sources and directions generally alone. Merkley (2009) says that the research librarians receive questions in person as well as through email. The online resources were adopted by librarians at different pace. Some libraries realized the importance of the online sources too early and they taught their research librarians to used and guide about these sources very easily. On the other hand some libraries were too late in offering guidance with respect to online sources. Some libraries, like the ones researched here helped the researches even in printing and coping technologies but the others did not. Thus, the services of these libraries improved than the others too. The research libraries are however now realizing that the students and researchers are taught at schools how to use these resources thus the need of research librarian is decreasing down.
Using database is often a little different and difficult than using the websites. Thus, the research librarians told us that they often found it difficult to serve too many people in a less time. The people want to get served first but the libraries are filled with visitors that want to know how to use data base articles. There are often articles that are too old and the date is also not mentioned. In such cases, the research librarians also feel that the basic usage of the database and how to access the articles should be taught to the students. While some students are very intelligent and learn quickly how to refer to an article but others would even ask the research librarian to do the job for them every time. Merkley (2009) says that only 11% of the questions that are asked to the research librarians are complex and the rest are not very difficult. Thus, the cost of hiring the research librarian is very high.
The discussion of the research librarian involves the nature of question she is asked and the time it takes to give the answer. Nolan (2010) says that normally the answer is often there but it takes time to find it. For example, it takes time to find a 10-year-old journal and its specific volume that has particular information. While a student cannot always know, where this journal lies and how to access and use it, the case is not same when using the web sources. Since this research deals particularly with the use and citing of internet sources, it was analyzed and found how the research librarians help in doing so. The librarians commented that they are helpful in using and accessing database and websites but more than that there is helpful in mentioning the ways of citation of a web based article. They also found that finding data over web is easier than finding data in printed journals yet they told that the students still want to use their services. The research librarians also complained that most of their time is spent at answering questions and offering guidance which is not part of their jobs. For example, it is their job to tell student about the citation style but not to do it for them every time.
The research is increasing in the libraries and the role of the librarians has thus also become tougher. MacColl (2010) found that the research is connected to development of economies and the organizations want to speed up the process of research. The research librarians are the staff that helps researches meet the challenges of research and they support research and develop institutional sources of research output. The research librarians allow the researchers to save time and assist in guiding the researchers. While the role of research librarian varies in different regions, the attitude and training of these staff members also matter a lot. Their job is more service oriented and the researcher should understand that he should also engage the research librarian only for the right time and should not waste his time. Because the extra time a person consumes from the librarian is the loss of another researcher.
In the field of health care, the role of surveys, research and analysis is increasing with every day. The research librarians are not only highly demanded by the…