Reference interviews and thistle

Firstly, apologies for the break in the blog postings – hectic 2 weeks travelling to Australia and being back at work in Wagga Wagga. This week, some of my students are looking at what constitutes a good reference interview in a school library. By “reference interview”, I mean a discussion that takes place when a student (or staff member) comes into the library and asks for help. I have been asking my students to define what a reference interview is – in no more than 20 words – and this has proven a good exercise for them. As we know, students are often vague when they seek help from the TL e.g. “I need information on Antarctica”. No more. No explanation of why or what kind of information. So, a reference interview is an exchange between the TL and the student, with the TL not only finding out what the student needs, so s/he can help, but also to get the student to think more about the purpose of their information seeking. There are lots of articles about the reference interview and one by Brown caught my eye as, although it’s not about the school library, is certainly applicable. Check it out.

In my neighbour’s garden in Scotland (see picture below), there is a large thistle plant about 3 metres high, and the purple thistles have just appeared. The thistle is one of the emblems of Scotland although how it came to be an emblem is a mixture of historical fact and maybe fiction. Legendhas it that the Vikings were attacking some Scottish soldiers stealthily, took off their shoes, stepped on thistles and gave the game away. There may, of course, be other explanations. When I came back to Wagga Wagga this week, I brought with me some bottles of beer from Belhaven Brewery which is based in Dunbar. The beer is Twisted Thistle and it was enjoyed greatly by some of my running friends, one of whom enquired whether Twisted Thistle was not only a beer but a form of Scottish male masochism.

Thistle flower

Thistle flower

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