The biggest argument against the reference desk is that people are tech-savvier and don’t need our help as much. Ok, that’s fair, but with increased access to information comes the increased need to filter out good information from bad. That’s always been our job. My public library supports four high schools, one college and one community college; we get students in every day who don’t have the first clue where to begin doing their research, and we often have to deal with their parents who think everything is googleable. Guess which desk they come to.
Or they google ‘ask a question’ and fill in the first library webform they see. Seriously. We’ve gotten reference questions that way. Our physical service desk doesn’t always get much action, but the need for librarian assistance is definitely still there.
Anyway, this post is a good reminder that we need to evaluate what our patrons need and adjust our services to match, not just follow every trendy fad being touted at the latest conference. Each library’s community is different, so there is no reason to expect that the new services from one library will translate well to another.