There's been a lot of talk over the last few years about digital reference. It started slow, then seemed to find an enthusiastic audience, and now some skepticism is creeping in, or at least some serious questions about its purpose, value, sustainability. It's worth asking the question, then, of why it seems to matter so much, if indeed it does, and how to proceed from here.
Joseph Janes is Assistant Professor and Chair of Library and Information Science at the Information School of the University of Washington and Founding Director of the Internet Public Library. A frequent speaker in the US and abroad, he is the co-author of eight books on librarianship, technology, and their relationship, including the forthcoming Introduction to Reference Work in the Digital Age and writes the "Internet Librarian" column for American Libraries magazine. He holds the M.L.S. and Ph.D. from Syracuse University, and has taught at the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the State University of New York at Albany as well as at Syracuse and Washington.