Marylaine Block, Writer, Internet Trainer, “Librarian without Walls” gave a presentation on "The Possible Future for Reference" on November 7, 2005 at CLA's annual conference in Pasadena.
On her handout, available as a web page at http://marylaine.com/ref.html, Marylaine provides this synopsis:
In a Google world, information is a commodity: free, fast, and good enough for the casual seeker. How does our superior product compete? For newbies, by personal contact (in person or virtual), serious handholding, training, and capitalizing on our trustworthiness (when it matters that the answer is right, ask a librarian). For sophisticated users with complex knowledge needs, by personalizing information, contextualizing information, adding value to information, reformatting information, creating information, continuously updating information, and (at long last) marketing the fact that we do all of the above.
Infopeople is pleased to offer this podcast edition of her talk. For those willing to brave a large download, we also have a video version (190MB) available in Quicktime format.
Listening to her presentation (about an hour) and following the links on her handout page while you listen would be a very good use of your time if you're interested in the future of reference.