Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 291 — 2017
Liaisons and special collections librarians share the challenge of
making collections more discoverable. For liaisons, it’s facilitating
access to e-resources and items in the stacks, so they will be used to
advance and promote research and learning. For special collections
librarians, it’s increasing exposure and discoverability of archives
and special collections, while also preserving and caring for the
materials, to ensure that they can be used for research and learning.
Stakeholders are at times reluctant or unwilling to take the time
to access analog items or other collections. How can liaisons and
special collections librarians team up to work on this challenge?
In order to make shared appointments successful, administrative
support and facilitation is critical. Dual reporting, from an external
perspective, may be less intimidating and confusing for the end
user, who, understandably, is only concerned with having their
needs met and not the organizational structure of the library.
Approaching shared or dual appointments programmatically, rather
than focusing on identification and implementation of boutique
projects might be a direction and approach to consider. Recognizing
that beyond the work, collegiality and growth stem from shared
understanding and can be rooted in a collaborative environment
that focuses on the end user. While this may be a daunting task for
library leadership, this approach has the potential to reinvigorate
the work and processes that take place in academic libraries.
Working together is not revolutionary, but approaching this outside of
the work itself, and focusing on the notion of mirroring research could
significantly alter the way that librarians reach and help their users.
“For that reason, new organizational structures may prove essential
in bringing humanities librarians and archivists together to pursue
common outcomes. With the growing need to evolve policies and
functional support for acquiring, managing, and supporting the use
of society’s born digital record, differing aggregations of technology
and archival staffing will be necessary.”12 It could also be argued
that beyond collaborating with humanities librarians, the increase