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The profound impact of digital reference claimed by its proponents is overstated. Librarians tend to overvalue technology, assume its intrinsic value in improving library operations and services, and undervalue the human factor of librarian expertise and professional competence. Overstating the impact of trends within librarianship is a cyclically recurring phenomenon and the hype surrounding digital reference is a current example. In most libraries, the adoption of digital reference is not likely to be cost effective nor its utility an improvement on structures already in place and functioning well. Librarians have difficult decisions to make regarding the allocation of resources. The superiority of traditional reference approaches should not be gainsaid by misdirected emphasis on digital reference.


Published as: Lauer, Jonathan D., and Steve McKinzie. 2003. “Bad Moon Rising: A Candid Examination of Digital Reference and What It Means to the Profession.” Reference Librarian, no. 79/80 (March): 45–56. doi:10.1300/J120v38n79_04.