8 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 294 2018 Leaving Liaison Behind: Reflections on the Last Decade M.J. D’Elia, Acting Associate University Librarian, Research, University of Guelph Doug Horne, Head, Discovery & Access, University of Guelph Introduction In 2008, the University of Guelph Library launched a review of its Academic Liaison program. The process began as a straightforward review of the liaison function, but we quickly realized that it was too difficult to isolate liaison activity from the rest of the library. Ultimately, it became clear that in order to review the work of liaison librarians, it was necessary to think about all of the processes and functions that make up the work of the library. In the previous liaison structure, librarians provided a full range of library services to their assigned faculty and academic departments. Over time, librarians found that the range of responsibilities became increasingly complex, resulting in the common concern that every librarian was expected to do everything. Put another way, ...it was necessary to confront our own notions and assumptions about librarian expertise. librarians felt like they had become “jacks of all trades and masters of none,” resulting in a wide but shallow focus. Guelph’s liaison librarians reported directly to the head, Academic Liaison, but were also responsible to other functional managers, such as the head, Collections, and the head, Information Literacy, for components of their job. This reporting arrangement (also known as “matrix management”) made decision-making, priority-setting, and resource allocation more confusing. Individual librarians could complete small-scale initiatives,
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