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Library and Information Science Paper (ID LIS066153)

Reconsidering the Value of Reference Service in Public Libraries in Japan
No.66, p.153-165
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Purpose: This research analyzes the trend of reference service in public libraries in Japan, and reconsiders the meaning of reference service.

Methods: Statistics about reference service of the public libraries in Shizuoka, Toyama and Kanagawa, and prefectural libraries were analyzed. In addition, issues concerning reference service were derived from the argument about the Market Test in Osaka.

Results: In Japanese public libraries in which reference service is active, the number of reference questions is generally decreasing in recent years. In contrast, the number of reference questions is increasing in the libraries in which reference service is inactive. And the trend of number of reference questions mainly depends on the number of easy questions. This result casts doubt on the generally accepted statement that reference questions are becoming more difficult in the internet era. Furthermore, not a few people consider that reference service is excessive. Therefore, it is difficult to maintain the level of resources for reference service, and it is necessary to redesign the structure and strategy for reference service.

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