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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.

2022 CARLDIG-S Fall Program

Title: Now You See Us, Now You Don’t: Shifting Away from In-Person to a Virtual-Only Reference Service Model

Abstract: Like many academic institutions, our private four-year university saw a drastic change in general reference needs and services during the pandemic. Even pre-Covid, our in-person Reference Desk usage numbers were quickly on the decline, while our virtual chat service saw a steady increase in usage. With the return of in-person classes and introduction of a hybrid class schedule, it was apparent that a change was necessary in order to meet the evolving needs of students, patrons, and the Libraries’ reference providers to build a sustainable reference model. Additionally, the Libraries experienced staffing challenges, which required liaison librarians to take on more responsibilities. These staffing issues, along with a continued need for flexibility with hybrid schedules, required that the reference committee reconfigure the general reference model. In Fall 2022, we piloted a virtual general reference model, driven by our reference user data. It was crucial that we received buy-in from libraries’ administration as well as our reference providers to build an impactful model for our diverse user communities. One component of our pilot was ensuring the awareness of our evolving services. We collaborated with our planning and communications team to design a marketing strategy to promote this virtual mode of access to our reference services. This outreach yielded varying results. This session will cover our pilot planning, preliminary findings, and future considerations for providing general reference services in a purely virtual capacity.

Title: Learning from Disruption: The Art of Matching Modalities

Abstract: Did the disruption of COVID-19 help us recognize some things we should have recognized far sooner?  Has the building-bound tradition of academic libraries held us in psychological thrall for far too long?  This presentation will argue, with evidence, how the answer to both these questions is a definitive yes.  The presentation combines an exploration of  the responses of reference services at Cal Poly, SLO, both through the pandemic experience and a pending re-closure for a major renovation.  It places these experiences in the context of a lightning-speed history of reference provision in academic libraries, ranging from the traditional Library as Book-Barn to the Library as Space, Information Commons, and Learning Commons models.  What emerges as a cogent response in light of this historical review is to deliberately match modalities: modalities of location (e.g., in person, online), modalities of information resources (e.g., print on paper, digital content), modalities of platform (e.g., shelves, electronic information technology), and modalities of time (synchronous, asynchronous). The trick is to conscientiously anticipate the most appropriate matching to place the providers, patrons, information resources, and platforms together productively at the best time. This has implications for reference provision, staffing, and training. And it all begs the hypothetical question: if academic libraries as historically established had never been built, would anyone build them now?

Several aspects of Brett's conference presentation receive more detailed treatment in a forthcoming Reference Services Review article, titled “Peer Reference and the Out-of-the-Building Experience.”  Reference Services Review will make the article available prior to final publication as an Early Cite article, DOI 10.1108/RSR-09-2022-0045 

About the Author

Brett Bodemer is the College of Liberal Arts Librarian at the Robert E. Kennedy Library at Cal Poly, SLO, and has served as the Coordinator of Reference since 2011.  He was a founder of the successful LibRAT program that leverages undergraduates for peer reference and instruction.

Abstract: Upon returning to in-person work after the COVID-19 lockdown, regular patrons were not immediately returning to the library. Many referrals for research assistance came from faculty partners or other librarians within my university. 
To increase engagement with students, I communicated three different ways to contact me to make reference appointments:
1). Maintain a calendar via Springshare’s Libcal that links with our University Libraries’ main landing page;
2). Used every one-shot class visit to instruct students on how to find my calendar and my contact information on our website;
3). Provided a link to my Libcal calendar in all my email communications with students and offered to work around their schedules, if needed.

Using these methods, I found it easier to keep my day-to-day schedule organized and helped bridge the gap from remote work back to in-person reference services. 

This process also gave students multiple options to choose from, making it easier for them to get into contact with me. In addition, this also helped them determine what kind service they needed (example: if they had an in-depth research topic or a simple question on how to find an article). 

Now that we are further in the endemic, I find myself needing to evolve with the times by offering options relating to students’ comfort levels. By providing them a choice between an in-person appointment versus a Zoom meeting, students feel more comfortable in making a reference appointment.

These simple yet essential steps have helped me re-connect with the students and increase awareness of the services available to them.
Erik’s Bio:
Erik Helton is a librarian at Pepperdine University. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from California State University, Northridge, and a Master of Library & Information Science Degree from San Jose State University.

As a thank you for joining us please enjoy the following Spotify playlists!


See the CARL website for membership information.

Chair: Leanna Pagano (, she/her

Chair-Elect: Daniel Wilson (, he/him

Secretary: Shonn Haren (

Programs Chair: vacant

Web Master: Corrie Bott (

Publicity Officers: Michelle Mussuto (