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This study explores the perceptions that Israeli reference librarians have of their jobs and their academic environment. Fifteen academic reference librarians were interviewed over a period of four months and their answers were analyzed using the thematic analysis approach. The analysis resulted in five major themes: 1) elements in reference work such as its essence, rotation of duties, and changes in the type of questions asked at the reference desk; 2) the skills and personality traits required for work in the reference department; 3) the effects of technological change on reference services; 4) students as information users, and 5) the future of reference work. Findings show that the essence of reference work has not changed despite librarians' expanding roles and the changing nature of the questions asked at the reference desk. Participants believed that reference librarians should be empathetic and patient when dealing with users, and should have excellent teaching and communication skills and the ability to learn new material independently. Participants perceived technological change positively and felt empowered through the adoption of new technologies. They envision future academic reference librarians as guides and counselors who will develop flexible services to fit diverse users.