I have been a reference librarian at the University of Mary Washington’s Library since 1980. Back in those early days, one of the principal duties of the reference librarian was to sit at the Information Desk and answer questions from persons who had trouble using the card catalog and paper periodical indexes.

I still help people, but over the years my job has grown to encompass quite a few more tasks, especially now with the Library’s Web-based resources.  With our many databases, we can access current journals, locate 100-year-old newspaper articles, or find full-text books and magazines.  Keyword searches in our online catalog allow us to pinpoint useful books and book sections that one could never find in “the old days.”  And yes, we still use books.  In fact, print reference resources are becoming increasingly sophisticated. It’s certainly an exciting time to work in a library (at left is my own). –Jack Bales (James E. Bales), jbales@umw.edu