27 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 294 2018 cross-unit support from the library, and liaisons who are poised to engage this way will need an efficient and widely agreed on process to identify, vet, commit to, and support collaborations and partnerships. Tools to represent the variability among liaison constituencies and reveal the choices and impact of liaisons’ outreach work— liaisons struggle with the question of how to balance demands on their time and focus. There’s always more that could be done. Liaisons need tools that reveal their understanding of the complexity of their landscapes, the outreach choices they are making, and the areas where they hope to have the most impact. We have started to experiment with different kinds of landscape maps to visually represent these opportunities and choices. We have traditionally relied on liaisons to use their judgment about outreach, based on the asymmetry of institutional knowledge—they know their user communities best. At the same time, we strive for ways to ensure that our allocation of effort is aligned with library priorities. Moving from anecdotal observations and “I know my users” to more systematic ways of researching user needs has been a skills approach of the last decade. Increasingly, outreach work is moving away from the realm of “small business owner,” in which each liaison either individually serves their constituencies or cobbles together temporary support from colleagues. More sustained and complex collaborations and partnerships require different skills in exploring, vetting, and shepherding project proposals toward library commitments. Project management and portfolio management—not just within liaison programs, but library-wide—are also essential. Familiarity with complex processes like service design has become important. Not all liaisons will engage in service design, but all will need to understand and respect the complexity of committing the library to sustainable service models. And working on larger teams has brought forward the importance of developing functional expertise and working effectively
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