the expectations and the roles of librarians. We have also created some
specialized positions to support and extend the work of liaisons. Examples of
this include the Information Literacy Coordinator, the Grants Coordinator, and
the Media Outreach and Learning Spaces Librarian.
The institution has also supported working groups that investigate roles
that are wholly new, like that of supporting e-scholarship. Our campus VP for
Research, the CIO, and the University Librarian recently created a group called
the Research Cyberinfrastructure Alliance and charged them with “exploring
research infrastructure needs and evaluating models that might align existing
and new resources for more robust and effective support.” Both liaison and
technology librarians are working with this group and, to date, they have
developed a conceptual map of cyberinfrastructure components. Going forward,
they will be developing guiding principles, identifying resource requirements,
documenting existing capacity, and evaluating budget models.
What Gives?
While roles for liaisons are expanding, the number of hours in a day is not. Like
libraries everywhere, we face the inevitable question of what we stop doing in
order to accommodate new demands on librarians’ time. We have done several
things to address this so far. A process improvement project entitled “From
Selection to Access” resulted in much streamlined ordering processes and a
significant increase in the use of approval plans, freeing up liaison time. We have
made a distinction between what patrons can expect from on-demand reference
services (walk-in desks) and expert help services, available by appointment.
We are consolidating service points and decreasing the amount of time that
librarians spend at reference desks. These changes have helped, but there is
more work to do in this arena.
Parting Thoughts
Libraries face an ever-changing landscape with no shortage of opportunities
to enhance the research, teaching, and learning enterprise. We consider our
Position Description Framework a living document that needs regular review
for alignment with a constantly evolving environment; in fact, some areas
mentioned above are the result of a very recent revision. This working document
reflects one institution’s view of new roles for liaison librarians, but there are
many others who are grappling with and outlining new roles as well. In a talk at
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A Framework for Articulating New Library Roles
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AUGUST 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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