Librarians Leave "Fort Ref" and Reach Out with Reference

Erin M. Schadt /

The role of reference is changing, and librarians at Douglas County Libraries in Colorado, United States, took an active approach to examining what reference could look like for their community. Through a series of small projects and collaborative efforts, the librarians explored a new dimension of modern reference service, one that places their expertise at points of need outside of the library to respond to the questions the public didn’t take to the library.

In the latest free WebJunction self-paced course, Leaving Fort Ref: Reaching Out with Reference, learn first-hand from these librarians and come away with new ideas and an action plan for your own library.

Jamie LaRue, Past Director; Colbe Galston, Business Librarian; and Amy Long, Library Manager, from Douglas County Libraries show how by reaching out to their community and building new relationships, they raised awareness about the reference services of the public library and learned more about the range of information local businesses and community members really need.

Originally a WebJunction live webinar, this new self-paced, free course will help you:

  • Explore new approaches to reference services that place public librarians directly in the community, answering questions at the point of need and growing community connections.
  • Discover possible outcomes and impacts of embedding library staff in direct projects supporting community businesses and organizations.
  • Identify your expertise. Identify new ways to place your expertise at points of need to respond to the questions the public does not typically take to the library.
  • Consider change. Consider new ways to adjust to this change and the opportunities for personal and professional growth that are possible for all staff within your library.

In addition, the course will show you how to build support and get buy-in within your library and community, how to approach and make a plan to reach out, and then step-by-step how to execute that plan, including how to conduct community reference interviews.

The approximately two-hour course includes a guide that makes it easy to follow along, take notes, and will serve as a handy reference as you leave your own Fort Ref.

To take this free course, go to the course description here. If you have already taken a WebJunction course, log in to your account to add it to your course catalog. Or if this is your first WebJunction course, you will be prompted to create an account (takes less than a minute!) for free.