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Welcome to CARLDIG-S (California Academic Reference Librarians Discussion Interest Group-South)!

CARLDIG-S is an interest group of the California Academic & Research Libraries (CARL). We hold meetings and programs to discuss current and developing issues relating to reference services.

What is Reference Anyways?

In a technical definition, reference services has been defined by the Reference & User Services Association (RUSA) division of ALA as:

  • Reference Transactions: information consultations in which library staff recommend, interpret, evaluate, and/or use information resources to help others to meet particular information needs. Reference transactions do not include formal instruction or exchanges that provide assistance with locations, schedules, equipment, supplies, or policy statements.
  • Reference Work: includes reference transactions and other activities that involve the creation, management, and assessment of information or research resources, tools, and services.

Definitions have also been provided by:

These definitions, though, are seen as restrictive, leaving little room to account the work conducted in reference services that addresses information literacy, racial barriers, and more. In 2020, RUSA held several Town Hall's to discuss new directions for the changing definition of Reference.


RUSA Guidelines for Reference Providers

While these are the primary documents used to standardize and assess reference services across the United States, we would like to note that there are numerous critiques of the RUSA Guidelines for relying on white-centric language and standards. Through this white-centric approach, RUSA's guidelines are perpetuating racist structures. Please see the Anti-Racism in Reference Services Literature Review tab for sources on anti-racist work in reference services.