achievable learning outcomes and in assessing those outcomes, and I need to
understand what I can accomplish using online tutorials, podcasts, and research
guides and what I cannot. And, perhaps most importantly, I need to leverage my
role as middleware to build the relationships necessary for the kinds of teaching
partnerships with my faculty that allow me this place in their classrooms.
The third arm of this holy trinity is collection development. While I have
always been supported by a robust approval plan in my book collecting, I also
have always supplemented that plan by firm ordering titles not automatically
selected by my approval plan. However, a few of my fellow science librarians
have moved to on-demand purchasing as their only firm ordering and are
focusing their attentions on other services. Other non-science librarians have
expressed the need for redirecting their collection development efforts to
“medium rare” items and “new media” that require the subject expertise of a
liaison librarian to identify and collect. What does it mean for liaisons to focus
on new kinds of library collections? Without careful planning for the future, it
could mean research collections that are less abundant for tomorrow’s
researchers. However, our role as middleware can come into play here as well.
Cultivation of relationships with faculty members and their graduate students
aid us in creating the appropriate approval parameters as well as in focusing our
medium rare and new media collections. Liaison 2.0 must also carefully consider
how we manage on a large-scale the collection and preservation of new media
and medium rare materials. Significant changes to current workflows across our
libraries will be required for liaison librarians to make such a shift.
Beta Testing Liaison 2.0 Services
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. Some
things cannot be carried over into the new version. But just what those things
are, is still up for debate. Many libraries, including my own, are giving up multi-
desk reference service. Some libraries are giving up firm ordering as we have
known it. I think the functions and services that are superseded are unique to
each research library. Grounded in the academic mission of the research
institution and the strategic plan of that library, liaison librarians and library
leaders will chart the course that fits their organization’s specific needs.
However, one thing is quite clear: what remains core is our role as middleware.
All emerging 2.0 liaison services grow from that role, and, if we sacrifice that, we
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New Roles of Liaison Librarians: A Liaison’s Perspective
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AUGUST 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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