Liaison Services · 13
Liaison’s Department Assignment
For the majority of librarians (80%), liaison activi-
ties are their primary responsibility, but for other
professionals and library staff liaison activities are
secondary to other responsibilities of their jobs.
For the great majority of respondents, department
assignments are based on the liaison’s subject ex-
pertise (95%) or position in the library (69%). Some
libraries also consider distribution of workload
as a way to determine assignments. All of the re-
sponding libraries reported at least one liaison
who serves more than one academic department.
Although most libraries assign no more than four
or five academic departments to any one liaison,
four libraries indicated that more than fifteen de-
partments were assigned to a liaison. In the 1992
SPEC survey the largest number of departments
assigned to one liaison was 12; in this survey the
largest number is thirty-one.
The survey asked what services liaisons provide
to their academic departments. All respondents in-
dicated that their liaisons offer departmental out-
reach and communicate department needs back
to the library. All but a few also offer reference,
collection development, and library instruction. A
significant number provide scholarly communica-
tion education. Examples of other services include
digital project support, individual consultations,
advice on copyright, and exhibits, among others.
Several respondents noted that not every librarian
provided all of the services listed, though.
While types and number of services may differ
from liaison to liaison, they all appear to use a wide
range of methods to communicate what those ser-
vices are to their departments. At the top of the list
is sending information via e-mail. A close second is
the in-person approach, such as attending depart-
mental meetings, meeting with faculty individu-
ally, and orienting new faculty. Most post news on
the library’s homepage or newsletter, send promo-
tional materials to their departments, host special
events, or use electronic discussion lists and blogs
to communicate their services.
New Liaison Training
Almost all of the libraries provide some form of
training for new liaisons whether informal or for-
mal, just an overview or more extensive, provid-
ed by a supervisor, peer, or an assigned mentor.
Collection development is the most common aspect
of the training that liaisons receive. Also common
is training in reference, instruction, and outreach
methods. A number of libraries provide introduc-
tions to the liaison’s departments. Others schedule
regular meetings of liaisons. More than a fifth of
the comments indicate that the training for the liai-
son role is unstructured, but several are planning a
more rigorous program.
Administration of Liaison Services
Almost half of the respondents reported that their
liaison services are self-administered by individual
liaisons without a central coordinator or adminis-
trative body. About a quarter reported that liaisons
are centrally administered, either by a coordinator,
committee, or the library administration. In a few
cases, two or more unit heads have joint respon-
sibility. In other cases, administration varies by li-
brary or unit.
Evaluation of Liaison Services
About half of the survey respondents report that
there has been some sort of evaluation of their liai-
son services. The most common evaluation method
is to track the number of instruction sessions and/
or reference or research interviews. Some have
conducted user surveys or interviewed members
of their departments. A few have conducted focus
groups. Several respondents mention the liaison’s
annual performance report as the main evaluation
method; several others specify that they have used
the LibQUAL+® user satisfaction survey.