2010–2012 speaks of “new and expanding roles for ARL libraries that support,
enable, and enrich the transformations affecting research and research-intensive
education.”1 Several of the strategies in this segment of the ARL Strategic Plan
specifically address the roles of librarians in support of their institutions and
research:
Strategy 4: Work with the scholarly community and societies to
develop discipline-specific strategies for monitoring and
analyzing trends in research practices. Identify opportunities for
library/scholar partnerships and clarify the resource and service
implications of libraries adopting new roles in advancing
research.
Strategy 5: Promote and facilitate the development of a diverse
group of library professionals who have the expertise and
knowledge to lead and participate in new partnerships with
researchers and university faculty.2
I think these are strategies that most academic librarians wholeheartedly
embrace, as I will discuss later in this article. Before I get to that, I want to take
a bit of a departure, which I hope you will find relevant.
Academic Libraries as “Pull” Organizations
I recently read the book, The Power of Pull, by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown,
and Lang Davison, and noted many concepts within it that could help us as we
think about transforming roles for academic librarians. At several junctures,
Hagel et al. reference the “super node” as “someone who bridges groups of
people who might not otherwise be aware of each
other” and who is especially skilled at connecting
ideas and people.3 If that doesn’t describe librarians,
what does? We are and always will be “super
nodes”! Librarians have a distinct and one might
even say, unique, vantage point on campus, working
with faculty, researchers, IT colleagues, and others
from a diverse array of disciplines and areas of expertise. And, the very essence
of our profession has been to help make critical connections, particularly
between ideas and people. Now, we must take that role even further.
If you’ll bear with me, I’ll take a few more concepts from The Power of Pull
RLI 272
8
Transforming Roles for Academic Librarians: Leading and Participating in New Partnerships
(
C O N T I N U E D
)
OCTOBER 2010 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
…the very essence of our profession has been to
help make critical connections, particularly
between ideas and people. Now, we must take
that role even further.
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