The Reference Interview in Archival Literature

Susan L. Malbin

Abstract

This essay reviews the two major strands of modern archival writing about reference. The first stresses the importance of subject-finding aids; the second relies on traditional forms of archival retrieval. In recent years, each has emphasized the gains to be achieved by using new technology. However, the literature seems to be missing a crucial step: the continued, or even increased, importance of the reference interview in a technological environment. This essay raises issues for research about archival reference and calls for improved education for archivists in negotiating the reference interview.

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