resources, services, and even librarians whenever the patron needs them by
integrating library information and services with campus course management
systems and administrative portals. Typically a digital user experience librarian
might oversee the web-publishing infrastructure and integrate discovery tools
for electronic resources. They implement transformative technologies to improve
access and they employ user testing and redesign to gauge and improve the
success of these technologies. Metadata specialists have studied and utilized
emerging technologies to improve access to objects in the digital library systems.
As mentioned above, the second level of “pull” is the ability to attract,
increasing the probability of serendipitous encounters, thereby drawing new
people, information, and ideas to you. Here is where I think of embedded
librarians or field librarians and their success in this arena. As my colleague,
Laurie Alexander, and I described what distinguishes a field librarian at the
University of Michigan from a departmental librarian, we said:
As faculty and students walk through the doors into a depart-
mental library, the nature of their communication changes.
Their encounters with librarians are more purposeful, and the
communication is more formal. When a librarian’s office is
located in the library, he/she tends to be associated with the
collection and a set of rules and policies wrapped around the use
of the collection and that physical space. This association changes
when the librarian’s office is located in the department, which
enables the faculty member to pop his/her head into the field
librarian’s office. A very different dynamic develops (or exists)
when a faculty member runs into a field librarian while sipping
coffee in the lounge rather than in the formal setting of a library.
This shared and familiar environment creates an atmosphere of
comfort and builds the foundation for a solid working
relationship. Perhaps even more than originally anticipated, the
field librarians have built strong relationships with faculty by
embedding themselves into their communities and thereby, the
scholarly activities of the faculty.7
A good example of the power of serendipity is when the classical studies
field librarian learned through a casual hallway conversation that a graduate
student intended to travel to Europe to obtain some Greek manuscripts essential
RLI 272
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Transforming Roles for Academic Librarians: Leading and Participating in New Partnerships
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C O N T I N U E D
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OCTOBER 2010 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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