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Inaugural Reference Renaissance Conference Creates Buzz

Aurora, Colo., October 22, 2008 — By all measures, the Reference Renaissance: Current and Future Trends conference, held in Denver (CO) this past August, was an unparalleled success. Nearly 500 attendees from five countries and 41 U.S. states participated in two days of thought-provoking, inspiring and practical presentations and workshops focused on established, emerging and merging areas of reference service. Conference presentations now are available, and a print collection of proceedings is scheduled to be published in 2009. Plans even now are underway for a 2010 conference.

Participants across the board have raved about the variety and quality of the topics. From subjects as wide ranging as text and instant messaging services to marketing and merchandising tactics, predatory reference and new models and products, attendees chose from 36 sessions sorted into six tracks over the two-day conference. “The number and variety of sessions were excellent. We got so much out of two days!” commented one conference participant.

Attendees also had the opportunity to attend product demos and meet with representatives from more than 20 vendors offering a wide range of products and services from reference databases to online tutoring to reference software. Strong support from sponsors RUSA,, OCLC and others helped to make the conference possible.

Coming from a broad cross-section of the library community including special, academic, public and school libraries, many participants appreciated the opportunity to network with their colleagues. Debbie Rossman, Westlake Porter Public Library (OH) reflected the feelings of many conference participants, saying “…this was absolutely the best conference I have ever attended. I feel recharged! Wonderful ideas and terrific enthusiasm.”

The keynote address, “Reference in the Age of Wikipedia, Or Not…” was presented by David W. Lewis, Dean of the University Library, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. He examined how libraries attempt to sustain innovation as related to existing values and processes of the organization and how, by watching what customers do, rather than asking them what they want, libraries can become more user-oriented.

The Plenary Session Panel on the second day created the opportunity for participants to express many diverse opinions. Titled “Theory Meets Practice: Educators and Directors Talk,” the panel presenters included R. David Lankes, Ph.D., Syracuse University; Jamie LaRue, Douglas County Libraries; Marie L. Radford, Ph.D., Rutgers University School of Communication, and Library Studies; and Carla J. Stoffle, Dean of Libraries and Center for Photography, University of Arizona. The discussion touched on the overwhelming need for organizations to budget for continuing education for their staff, as well as the need for good customer service skills along with repackaging information into forms that customers really want and will use. A very good overview of the session can be found on The Shiny Librarian blog.(

For anyone who was unable to get to all the sessions they wanted or would like more information, links to presentation materials are now available for download in the detailed schedule on the Reference Renaissance website ( As one conference attendee pointed out, “…there were so many great sessions that they frequently competed with each other, so I had some tough decisions to make.”

In addition, all conference presenters have been invited to submit research papers and reports from the field. These will be peer reviewed for selection for print proceedings to be published by Neal-Schuman Publishers and edited by Marie L. Radford and R. David Lankes. Publication is scheduled for mid-2009.

With the success of this year’s conference, BCR has committed to sponsoring a second Reference Renaissance conference tentatively scheduled for August, 2010. Watch the BCR website ( for date and registration announcements.

About BCR
BCR brings libraries together for greater success by expanding their knowledge, reach and power. They offer a broad range of solutions and their hands-on, personal attention to each member enables them to deliver effective and timely solutions that help libraries keep pace with new developments in technology and services. BCR is the nation’s oldest and most established multistate library cooperative. Since 1935, the BCR team has helped libraries learn new skills, reach patrons, increase productivity and save money. BCR (Bibliographical Center for Research) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit headquartered in Aurora, Colorado. For more information, visit or e-mail [email protected].

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