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Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 291 2017
Creating a Holistic Fabric of Services and Collections
from the Inside Out: Exploring Convergences of
Liaison and Special Collections Librarianship
Kristen Totleben, Modern Languages and Cultures Librarian, River
Campus Libraries, University of Rochester
Jessica Lacher-Feldman, Assistant Dean of Rare Books and Special
Collections, and the Joseph N. Lambert and Harold B. Schleifer Director of
Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation, River Campus Libraries,
University of Rochester
Introduction
The work of liaison librarians and special collections librarians could
more closely mirror and support the scholarship process if the expertise
of both specializations are holistically considered and, when relevant,
cooperatively combined. Viewing and integrating collections and services
with this approach includes providing a “full spectrum of information
available to scholars and students and the technological capabilities,
rights of use, and services necessary for full utilization of these resources.
The holistic framework’s raison d’être is knowledge creation—from
inspiration to information, to analysis, synthesis and dissemination.”1 It
is well known that, in the 21st-century academic library, there is a shift
from being “collections-centered” to “learning-centered.” By assisting
users with the production of scholarly work, and by outwardly focusing
library work toward more direct engagement with users, together, special
collections and liaisons in academic libraries advance in their roles as
facilitators, conduits, and partners in research. Outcomes stemming
from these interactions increase the likelihood of building even more
connections with users, further supporting their research and teaching.
This article considers benefits, advantages, and an overarching purpose
of academic liaison librarians and special collections librarians working
integratively to affirm and advance the libraries’ role in the university
community. The piece also proposes ways in which libraries can enact
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