The Fall term has squeezed the time available to me for reading (and blogging!) but there are a couple publications that I’m determined to make time for.
First is a special issue of Public Services Quarterly (vol. 6, no. 2) devoted to embedded librarianship — focusing on librarians in higher education. It’s full of articles with titles like “Ten Tips for Implementing a Successful Embedded Librarian Program”, “Is Embedded Librarianship Right for Your Institution?”, “Assessing the Value of Embedded Librarians in an Online Graduate Educational Technology Course”, and many more. I’m only part way through the issue but everything I’ve read so far has important insights for any librarian or library manager interested in this topic. It’s truly a valuable resource!
The second publication I’m reading is the book “The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies” by Scott Page. It’s a persuasive exploration of the value of diversity for problem solving and organizational performance. What Page is talking about in the first instance is diversity of experience and modes of thought. Diversity is often assumed to be synonymous with ethnic and cultural diversity, and thus Page makes a strong argument in favor of a diverse, multiethnic, multicultural society. But he also articulates the value of diversity in educational and professional background. He makes a case for interdisciplinary teams for research and other projects — and it’s here that I think there may be a connection to embedded librarianship. The embedded librarian who becomes a collaborator in a team brings a skill set and modes of thinking that are complementary to others on the team. When the librarian also understands the team’s problem well enough to function as a peer collaborator, the librarian becomes a source of diverse cognitive and problem solving skills. So it seems to me that following Page’s line of reasoning, one of the sources of value that the embedded librarian brings is the unique set of skills and modes of thought that no other member of the team is likely to provide. These skills and approaches are related to the librarian’s understanding of the information dimensions of the team’s work, but transcend traditional library services.