2.0 Takes on Traditional Roles
I have been a liaison for my entire nine-year career as a librarian, and my
responsibilities have always been divided into what one colleague refers to as
the “holy trinity” of liaison librarianship: reference, instruction, and collection
development. I have seen each element of the trinity reconstructed in the past
decade. Newer virtual reference services are transforming the ways in which
librarians reach out to their patrons—and, more importantly, the ways in which
their patrons communicate with them. This change has been so striking that
many libraries, including my own science reference
center, are doing away with their traditional
reference desks in favor of virtual service.
Additionally, we have noted in science reference
services at NYU that we are seeing an increase in in-
depth, sometimes in-office, reference consultations
even though our science reference desk statistics are trending downward. Such
consultations provide a cornerstone for me as I actively build relationships with
students, faculty, and researchers. Those relationships, created with thoughtful,
targeted outreach programs, are at the core of our role as middleware and will
be an increasingly important component of the work of liaison 2.0. For example,
one outreach effort I created in our science reference center at NYU is a research
salon held three times each semester. Each salon features a presentation of one
graduate student’s or faculty member’s research, bringing together researchers
from across the sciences. These salons allow those researchers to network in
ways that might not otherwise be possible, and it allows our science librarians to
interact face-to-face with researchers that they might not otherwise be reaching.
The second arm of the liaison holy trinity, instructional services, has also
been transformed by liaison 2.0. “Course embedded librarians,” who provide
course-integrated information literacy instruction are the new norm. For the
better part of the last decade, liaison librarians have been reaching out to the
faculty members to partner in teaching students in new ways. My own
participation in instruction has grown from an introductory library tour in an
undergraduate chemistry class to a course-integrated week of instruction
culminating in the completion of an assignment that I designed.
What do these trends mean for liaison librarians? I now need robust
continuing education to enhance the effectiveness of my teaching and expose me
to smart instructional design techniques. I need to hone my skills in developing
RLI 265
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New Roles of Liaison Librarians: A Liaison’s Perspective
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C O N T I N U E D
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AUGUST 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
Like many liaison librarians, I confront the challenge
of functioning in the “2.0 mode” while continuing
to provide all the services I have in the past.
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