Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 291 2017
this holistic model by improving interpersonal communication,
changing organizational culture and structure, experimenting
with staffing models, and identifying staffing intersections.
Commonalities and Challenges of Working Together
Both liaison and special collections librarians preserve, uphold,
advocate, and teach the scholarly work cycle. However, due to
organizational structures and, at times, approaches toward teaching and
reference interactions, the organization and strategy of librarians’ work
may not resemble the research process itself. Silos and fragmentation
of collections (primary sources/rare materials vs. secondary sources;
analog vs. digital sources) and services (“esoteric” vs. “pragmatic,”
etc.) provide disjointed, inconsistent points of service and fragment
collection viewing and use. These structures and work situations,
unlike a pragmatic and pedagogically sound approach to research, lack
the correlation of content synthesis and integration of information.
This environment also does not allow for the outcome that all of
these collections and services combine to make up the very structure
and substance of the academic library. Scholarly output, and aligning
all collections and services with an institution’s mission, objectives,
research, and teaching are intrinsic to an academic library remaining
relevant, dynamic, and essential to its constituents and stakeholders.
Meeting the needs of users is a central, unifying objective across
academic libraries as well as within individual library departments. In
this context, it can be asserted that all work in academic libraries is a
unifying endeavor that serves the very same constituents. On discussing
a holistic collections framework, H. Thomas Hickerson wrote that,
“regardless of the description methods or systems employed, we owe
our users the capacity to find related materials within our holdings,
whether published, unpublished, art, artifact, digital collection or new
media. This unified, broadly accessible information is also essential
to library colleagues who should be knowledgeable in promoting
primary resources in their liaison roles along with the latest new
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