I know summer still has a way to go, here in the Northern Hemisphere, but already I am thinking about the Fall Semester which begins in 3 weeks.
Notice I didn’t end the title of this posting with “Vacation”. This summer hasn’t been a vacation, but it has been fun, a lot of work, and above all, interesting. I spent June making research visits to six organizations, three in higher education and three in the private/corporate sector. I recorded 17 hours of in-person interviews and conducted other interviews by phone.
Naturally, then, I spent much of July writing all that up into case study reports that I hope to publish later this year. (I have one more to do plus further editing and correcting.)
I’m still sorting out in my mind what the big lessons were that I want to write about, but a couple of the points that stuck with me make a kind of good news / bad news story.
The good news is that these six institutions all have strong, successful embedded librarianship programs, and they are getting stronger. The librarians are having more influence and contributing more to achieving organizational goals — be they student learning objectives in higher education or business initiatives in the private sector.
The bad news, given the employment situation in librarianship and the U.S. economy as a whole, is that the growth in embedded librarianship is taking place largely by redirecting staff from traditional work to new roles and responsibilities. Some of the organizations I visited have added a few staff, but others have accomplished their embedded initiatives entirely by transitioning staff to new roles.
I realize this is what has to happen. Librarians, like everyone else, have to redirect the resources we have to the uses that are most productive. We have to achieve more with what we have. But I hope that down the road we’ll see more organizations hiring more librarians to pursue the opportunities that we all know are out there.
Meanwhile, my hat is off to the managers and staff of the organizations I visited. They are doing a great job with difficult challenges. Without exception, they were positive, energetic, engaged, effective. I look forward to sharing more details of what they are doing in the not too distant future.