to his dissertation. Not knowing that the field librarian could purchase digital or microfilm copies of those manuscripts for him, the graduate student simply never thought to ask a librarian for help. The student’s research needs were only uncovered due to a conversation on another matter. This serendipitous encounter saved the delighted graduate student an expensive trip abroad.8 Of course, although there is great value in physical proximity, a virtual presence can be equally important. Another great example of improving the likelihood of serendipitous encounters is an outreach librarian who may be active in social networking sites, enabling librarians and multiple patrons to interact and share dynamically and to learn from one another. New Roles for Academic Librarians Perhaps more important to many of you than knowing that academic libraries are forward-looking “pull” organizations, is discussing how we are achieving the strategic directions articulated in the ARL Strategic Plan. In his article, “Accelerating Learning and Discovery: Refining the Role of Academic Librarians,” Andrew Dillon wrote: The academic library is tied to the academic mission of the university. In contextual terms, we must recognize the shifts in scholarship practices that are occurring in our universities and research labs, and then seek to understand how the library functions appropriately in this new world where large data repositories become the norm for some disciplinary practices where many students never visit a physical campus, let alone a library where libraries assume part of the role of publishers where tenure decisions are loosened from the documentary formats we have known for decades and where special collections become indistinguishable from museums…. With digital collections becoming boundary objects between academics, librarians, students and designers in a manner that has no obvious historical parallel, the ability to engage in the most fundamental way with the mission of a university will define the importance of academic librarianship in the future.9 I wholeheartedly agree with Dillon and also believe many academic librarians across the country are recognizing the shifts he suggests and are RLI 272 11 Transforming Roles for Academic Librarians: Leading and Participating in New Partnerships ( C O N T I N U E D ) OCTOBER 2010 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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