12 · SPEC Kit 301
Liaison Assignments
For 44 respondents (75%), defining who liaisons are
and what they do was determined through admin-
istrative decisions. However, a significant number
of respondents stated that librarians’ perceived
needs of academic departments were a major fac-
tor in determining these services (33 responses or
60%). Formal and informal meetings and conver-
sations with faculty members also played a role.
In most of the responding libraries (52 or 85%),
there is a liaison assigned to every department on
campus. At the other nine, only a few departments
have a liaison.
Department Participation
Thirty-three respondents (61%) indicated that all
departments on their campuses take advantage of
services offered by library liaisons. The 24 respon-
dents who indicated that only some departments
take advantage of liaison services were asked to es-
timate the percentage of participating departments
and to describe which departments those are. The
majority report that participation falls between
75% and 90% only two campuses have less than
60% departmental participation. The respondents
listed a wide range of participating departments
across disciplines. Many commented that par-
ticipation level varies between departments since
each department has different needs. A handful of
respondents indicated that sciences are less active
than social sciences and humanities, while one in-
dicated that sciences are the most active.
All of the responding libraries are actively
seeking ways to increase departmental participa-
tion and employ various strategies to achieve that
goal. An analysis of respondents’ comments show
that library liaisons tend to target their services to
teaching and research faculty more than under-
graduates, but it appears difficult to get their foot
in the door. Almost all of the libraries encourage
liaisons to attend departmental meetings and, in
addition to formal meetings, many organize social
events for liaisons and departmental faculty. Most
respondents also indicated that they employ such
promotion strategies as newsletters, e-mail, or pre-
sentations for key university committees to increase
departmental participation. Six respondents indi-
cated that they increased the presence of liaisons
in academic units by providing liaisons with office
spaces or office hours in academic departments.
A few shared strategies that can help campus fac-
ulty become more active, such as inviting faculty
to contribute to library publications, including
faculty on library committees, and creating liaison
advisory teams. One respondent commented that
their librarians are “over-extended” and therefore
expectations are carefully controlled. On most cam-
puses however, liaisons constantly work to imple-
ment new services.
The survey asked which members of the depart-
ment are eligible for liaison services. Responses
indicate that liaison outreach is inclusive. Faculty
of all types—teaching and research, adjunct and
lecturer—are high on the eligibility list, followed
closely by graduate teaching assistants and other
graduate students. Roughly three-fourths of the
respondents also include administrative staff and
undergraduates. A few include the general public.
Liaison Responsibility Assignment
Only five libraries report that most or all of their
librarians are assigned as liaisons. The criteria for
these liaisons are summed up by one respondent,
“interest, subject knowledge, availability, instruc-
tion skills, public service ethic.” When the liaison
pool is narrowed to just some librarians, subject ex-
pertise is still the number one criteria and “Subject
Librarian” appears to be synonymous with liaison.
Those with collection development responsibilities
also commonly act as liaisons, but the largest group
to shoulder liaison responsibilities is the public ser-
vice librarians. Other library professionals with
liaison responsibilities include administrators, lan-
guage specialists, and media specialists. Support
staff liaisons typically have cataloging or service
desk expertise.
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