In a comparative field study of ten libraries, we show how technological advances in electronic and digital resources have led to an onslaught of technology questions at the reference desk while prompting new and challenging work away from the desk. Libraries in our sample varied in their approaches to dealing with technological change, with institutional factors appearing to strongly shape their choice. Large, four-year academic libraries adopted a role reinvention approach that reduced reference librarians' desk hours and permitted librarians to follow creative, often technical, pursuits. Small, four-year academic libraries took a structural defense approach that maintained the sanctity of the reference desk as the locus for substantive reference questions. Two-year academic and public libraries followed a resigned surrender approach where reference librarians staffed busy desks and were inundated with patron requests to aid with computer equipment. We discuss the implications of each approach for the work of reference librarians.
LeMaistre, Tiffany; Embry, Rebecka L.; Van Zandt, Lindsey L.; and Bailey, Diane E., "Role Reinvention, Structural Defense, or Resigned Surrender: Institutional Approaches to Technological Change and Reference Librarianship" (2014). Presentations and Publications. Paper 5.