Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 291 2017
ongoing emphasis on engaged librarianship with the need for
supportive organizational strategy, structure and culture.”13 With a mix
of administrative support, shared goals, and a shared understanding
of why, how, and for whom the work is for, together liaison and
special collections librarians can help each other keep the focus on
a project’s purpose and objectives. Developing a collaboration of
any kind also requires a comfort with ambiguity, as, with a variety of
perspectives, outcomes may not turn out as originally anticipated.
Every librarian brings their own expertise to bear on each experience
and interaction. To best serve constituents, department and position
responsibilities should not be an obstacle to working collaboratively.
Looking internally at their work in a holistic way and making
strategic connections among colleagues to combine expertise,
services, and collections can help librarians “create agile systems
for translating encouragement into ideas and, in turn, transforming
those ideas into scalable, sustainable, and replicable services.”14
These challenges are not unique to liaison and special collections units
within academic libraries. As in other organizations, fragmentation
of work, responsibilities, communication, mission, goals, and other
pieces of organizational culture creates similar conflicts. Thinking of
the library as a whole, “organizational culture is hence the specific set
of patterns that are materialized within one institution. These patterns
are materialized…as action, technology, institution and so on.”15 How
do liaison and special collections librarians develop and institute
patterns to more closely reflect the research process and scholarly
work cycle? It is highly recognized that working collaboratively is
important to the success and future of academic libraries. It is in
considering the nature of this work and why it is important that
helps academic librarians ascertain how to do it that will help
advance their work and, in effect, their institutions’ objectives.
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