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Embedded Librarians: A recent trend in Academic Libraries. Carley Suther Humanities Reference Librarian Jacksonville State University. Brief Overview.
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Embedded Librarians: A recent trend in Academic Libraries Carley Suther Humanities Reference Librarian Jacksonville State University
Brief Overview • Most recently, the trend in some Academic libraries has been to move the subject specialist librarians into their respective departments as a means of becoming more relevant to the professors they serve.
First Example: Murray State University, a public university in Murray, Kentucky(10,000 students) • Fall 2006: At the behest of the library Dean, Librarian Linda Bartnik, a reference librarian with liaison duties for the business department moves her office into the College of Business and Public Affairs. • Her initial impression was not favorable. She felt her role as a librarian was in jeopardy. • However, this was not the case. After she moved her office into the college of business, the faculty members began to see her as an integral part of their department. • There were, of course, some changes in her workload...
Most notable changes… • Her proximity to the professors has increased her workload in the amount of support she offers faculty members with their research. • Not surprisingly, the volume of student email she receives has increased. She does note that there is still face-to-face interaction with students- mainly in the form of groups coming by to ask questions.
Making it successful… • Several important aspects to keep in mind for an embedded librarians are: • Position yourself in a high-traffic area of the department. • Make sure that the librarian also has work time in the library as well. • Keep in contact with the library. • Stay closely involved with the department that you are serving by making presentations in weekly meetings.
Second Example: University of Rhode Island, a public university in Kingston, RI (10,000 students) • In the spring of 2006, the University of Rhode Island embedded librarians into various distance education programs as well as face-to-face classroom instruction. • Embedded librarians in the online community involved themselves with the college’s course management system, WebCT. • Instead of being embedded into a certain college or department, these librarians were embedded into the distance education community and the classrooms they served.
Some aspects on becoming involved in the teaching community… • The embedded librarians at the University of Rhode Island not only make themselves available to students via email contact, but they also teach traditional classes. • Due to the success of their class Introduction to Library Literacy, LB 120, the university has decided to offer two sections online. • These classes were offered as electives under the general education program, and the two online classes were added as a means of meeting student demand for the face-to-face classes which routinely filled-up each semester.
Third and final example: Pulaski Technical College, two-year community college in Little Rock, AK • In order to fill the needs of distance education students, Pulaski Technical College embedded a librarian into the online version of English Composition II. • It was found that one of the weaknesses of the distance education English programs was that students were missing out on the traditional library instruction sessions. • Just as the University of Rhode Island embedded librarians into their online classes, Pulaski Technical College assigned their librarians to certain online classes. • The librarians interaction was mediated with use of the Blackboard course management system.
Keys to success at Pulaski Technical College… • Along with the library discussion threads and email correspondence with students, the librarians at Pulaski Technical College also installed tutorial guides on the library’s homepage using Captivate. • These guides taught students how to search databases such as Gale Literature Resource Center, EBSCO Literary Reference Center, and various ProQuest databases. • They not only offered a means of instructing a student, but also a way of assessing a student’s comprehension. With each tutorial a quiz was included that could be emailed to the instructor.
Final Thoughts • With the overwhelming dependence on technology and online resources, academic librarians in the United States have been trying to re-establish themselves in their new digital environments. • Some have found that embedding themselves into the colleges and departments they serve makes them a more visible and integral part of the faculty they assist. • Other librarians are finding it necessary to cater to the needs of the distance education community by becoming involved in the various course management systems such as Blackboard and WebCT. • Whatever the outcome may be for the 21st century librarian, embedding and becoming more visible to the communities they serve will be an important aspect of keeping the profession viable. It will show how we and our profession are able to remain relevant and change with the times.
Reference list • Bartnik, Linda. “The Embedded Academic Librarian: the subject specialist moves into the discipline college”. Kentucky Libraries. 71.3(2007): 4-9. • Stewart, Veronica Dawn. “The Embedded Librarian Program at Pulaski Technical College”. Arkansas Libraries. 64.3 (2007): 29-32 • Ramsay, Karen M. and Jim Kinnie. “The Embedded Librarian”. Library Journal. 131.6 (2006): 34-5