New Roles of
Liaison Librarians:
A Liaison’s Perspective
Kara M. Whatley, Life Sciences Librarian and
Head of the Coles Science Center, New York University
Librarians as Middleware
Liaison librarians have always been connectors between their patrons and the
information that is collected in libraries. However, this role as connector, or
middleware as it was termed by Rick Luce at the 2008 ARL and CNI Fall
Forum, has taken on new twists for liaison librarians today, or liaison 2.0 as I
have come to think of us. Liaison 2.0 represents more than a simple refinement
of liaison librarianship; it represents a significant rewrite of the basic skills and
services typically associated with liaison librarianship. As we move further
and further into the age of Google, where faculty and administrators feel that
all information is online and easily located, it is increasingly important that
liaison librarians use the relationships that they have built to connect the
library’s work to the academic mission of their university. This role as
middleware is core to the liaison 2.0. Building relationships is becoming the
essence of what it is to be a liaison librarian—one that connects users with
their information needs, whatever the format and whatever the technology.
The role of librarians as middleware is the real brains behind the traditional
roles for liaison 2.0, and, if this connection works well, all the rest will be
informed by it and flow from it.
At New York University we have spent a significant amount of time in the
past academic year thinking about science library services, and a large part of
that work has included reexamining our roles as liaison librarians and how we
might evolve to better serve the changing needs of our students and
researchers. In the process I have formed a new appreciation of the concept of
librarians as middleware, as well as roles we leave behind as we offer new
services and acquire new skills.
RLI 265
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