Reference Service and Literature Search
A reference service, according to the A.l.A. Glossary of Library Terms, is "that phase of library work which is directly concerned with assistance to readers in securing information and in using the resources of the library in study and research". Usually a reference service responds to request for a specific piece of information - about a person, or place or an event, a method, procedure, or formula, etc. The nature of information sought in such a situation is very specific and quite often the answer could be found from the conventional reference tools like dictionaries, encyclopaedias, manuals, handbooks, gazetteers, directories, yearbooks, etc.
Literature search, on the other hand, can be equated to "long range reference service", where the search has to be more exhaustive, both in depth and extent. The range and complexity of reference sources to be consulted are wider and generally, more than one source has to be consulted to adequately carry out a literature search. Besides bibliographies, other secondary sources like abstracting and indexing services, reviewing periodicals are the main sources of information. The demand for this service has been growing with the growth of scientific and technical literature which has assumed frightening proportions in the post-Second-World-War era.