Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 291 2017
of interdisciplinary research may elicit more collaboration as well
with liaisons with functional or disciplinary roles such as digital
scholarship, social sciences, and natural sciences responsibilities.
Further, expanding liaison librarians’ knowledge of their libraries’
rare books and special collections holdings and handling procedures
while broadening special collections librarians’ knowledge and
experience of general collections and services, would help with
convening individual and collective expertise, collections, and services.
A mindful and creative approach to collaboration—focusing on
interpersonal communication, organizational culture and structure,
and staffing models and intersections—could potentially transform
services and resources for users. Distinguishing collaboration
from cooperation, it is important to a library’s organizational
development and culture to notice and reflect on the way
colleagues interact with each other (or not) in their daily work
and responsibilities. Is a project’s work shared in the process of
planning and implementation or are both parties working separately,
to the extent of simply not opposing each other’s work? How
do both parties discuss and communicate with others on their
collaborative work, acknowledging responsibilities and roles while
fulfilling outcomes? In particular projects, why is interdepartmental
collaboration needed and what potential benefits will come from it?
While it is essential to consider the time commitments required as a
fundamental component of embarking on collaborative projects, it is
also critical to focus on how approaches to collaboration could better
meet users’ needs. Understanding what is possible to accomplish given
realistic schedules and deadlines requires not only an awareness of
what both our potential collaborators do and are responsible for, but
also an awareness of one’s own needs, requirements, and barriers.
An academic library is a hive of activity, with competing priorities,
activities, and demands, and “libraries must work to connect the
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