Alan has a nice post on his library’s hopes of changing how reference is provided. They hope to move away from the reference desk and move more towards a “pod” approach which I understand to be more open and allow patrons to sit right next to the reference librarian for help. No more barriers between the librarian and the patron. It will be interesting to see how the design turns out and what tweaks they make.
What they've decided is that we are NOT going to have a desk or any kind of barrier, but that reference librarians will work in partnership with patrons at reference "pods." Truly, we don't have a clue what they are going to be like exactly (we have done lots of sketches but we aren't to the mock up stage yet -- some drawings look like lima beans, or saddleshapes or boomerangs) except we know the general principle is that a reference librarian and the patron will sit together so they can share access to computing resources if necessary. And the space will clearly as much the patron's space as it is the librarian's space.