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Transforming reference into a proactive knowledge advisory service: a case study

Sue Weddell (AgResearch Ltd, Mosgiel, New Zealand)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 16 May 2008




The purpose of this paper is to share practical experience and learning gained from the planning and implementation of a new information service model in an agricultural research library.


A case study that covers the development of a new reference service model is presented. Each stage in the development is discussed in logical sequence – planning; the service model; building the team; developing the processes; convincing the clients; issues; two years on; and the future.


The paper provides evidence that, in developing a new model for information services that could be embraced by both clients and staff, the company has created a successful strategy for improving information services to support company goals. It also acknowledges that the transition from traditional reference librarian to the proactive role of a Knowledge Advisor is not an easy adjustment to make. It recognises that clients too have had to adjust to changes in information delivery.

Practical implications

The paper provides an alternative model for the delivery of proactive information services that could be adopted for use in any type of library.


This case study complements recent research on the value of “embedding” information professionals with user groups by documenting a practical application of the principle.



Weddell, S. (2008), "Transforming reference into a proactive knowledge advisory service: a case study", Reference Services Review, Vol. 36 No. 2, pp. 147-155.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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