my thoughts on the exciting unpredictability of answering reference questions

Since the beginning our training at the virtual reference desk in the fall, I have learned a lot about answering reference questions, and what has surprised me the most throughout this process has been everything that goes on behind the scenes of the actual dialogue between the librarian and the patron. From what I can tell, this is where a lot of creativity comes into play for the librarian. For example, there are numerous paths that a librarian could take to reach the information that the patron is looking for. This became evident to me when Clara and I were working on the example reference questions during the winter term, and on multiple occasions, we would take completely different approaches to the same question and still end up in the same spot. 

Also, it has become apparent to me that the number of resources that a librarian might receive questions about is virtually infinite. For instance, while answering practice questions or working at the virtual reference desk, we have encountered questions about how to find full-length opera performances or where audiobooks can be found, as well as very specific access questions. This has certainly been an aspect of answering reference questions that I have really enjoyed because before this internship, I thought of the library as a place to find books or the occasional journal article, but now it is clear to me that there is much more to the library, and this ultimately makes each question unpredictable, which is exciting. 

Owen Schuster