“Dangerous Liaisons?” — An Article Worth Reading

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Even if you’re not an academic librarian, you might want to read “Dangerous Liaisons? Defining the Faculty Liaison Librarian Service Model, Its Effectiveness and Sustainability”, by John Rodwell and Linden Fairbairn, in Library Management 29:1/2, 2008, p. 116-124.

Rodwell and Fairbairn, who are both at the University of Sydney, trace the concept of the academic “liaison librarian” role in the professional literature since the 1970s, and identify the shortcomings in the typical practice of liaison librarianship.

They rightly (I think) call for a new type of partnership between librarians and their “customers”, which will require the librarians to jettison old duties and practices (for example, spending a lot of time on acquisitions and collection development; doing general reference work).  They call for a new emphasis on marketing to guide the changes: “In reorienting liaison, with rhetoric about building partnerships, embedding librarians in the work of the faculties and generally raising the library profile and relevance within the University, it would be useful and constructive to know if this is what potential partners and clients want.” (p. 122)  They conclude with some musings on the sustainability of the new liaison model.

I think almost everything they say can be applied, with limited translation, to the world of embedded librarianship in non-academic settings: corporations, government agencies, NGOs, etc. The trends and the opportunities in front of the profession of librarianship are similar because they are driven by the same factors. Information technology has freed us from some of the drudgery of the past, which should be cause for rejoicing! The need for general, ready reference services is declining (in U.S. academic libraries at least). Content of all kinds is more freely available than ever. Now we have an opportunity to move up the value chain, becoming more valuable by delivering highly customized and targeted services. Rodwell and Fairbairn have done an excellent job of providing some pointers to the future for academic librarians and all of us.

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2 Responses to ““Dangerous Liaisons?” — An Article Worth Reading”

  1. Flora Grabowska Says:

    God bless OA and IRs! A simple google search brought me to

    http://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/handle/2123/1898

    where I could download the paper in Word format.

    I am working towards embedding myself partly to encourage OA use among scholars.

    Useful blog, thanks!

  2. hannah meiklejohn Says:

    This sound like an interesting article. Thanks :-)

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