“Embedded Librarian” in the Chronicle of Higher Education


Last Friday, the Chronicle of Higher Education published a piece entitled “‘Embedded Librarian’ on Twitter Served as Information Concierge for Class”. While I’m always glad to see the wider world take notice of our efforts, I’m in sympathy with several comments that point out a few flaws in the article. I wonder, for example, why the librarian wasn’t more embedded in the class than she was — i.e. had a more active role and extensive relationship with instructor and students.

The article ends with the librarian’s question, “how can you scale this up?” which indeed is a critical question for any library/information manager.

I posted a couple thoughts as a comment to the article: first you look at redirecting librarians’ time from reference desk duty and other activities; and second you don’t have to scale up to every class — pick your spots.

Do you agree? What other ideas do you have for “scaling up”?

(Here’s a link to the Chronicle:
http://bit.ly/hsNUyd .)


4 Responses to ““Embedded Librarian” in the Chronicle of Higher Education”

  1. Danno Says:

    I really like this idea! I would’ve loved to have had this as an undergrad … even as a current library science student!

  2. AC Says:

    Yes, there’s the scalability thing, and there’s the other thing: having a librarian on-hand to suggest readings and materials in real-time is not only inefficient, but doesn’t teach the students anything.

    As you mentioned earlier – an automated ‘Watson’ can connect information and suggest a book title. That’s not so special. Teaching students to be self-sufficient – that takes some doing.

  3. Ellen Says:

    Sorry it’s been so long since the publication of this article for me to find and comment on this post. But I thought I’d provide my two cents, since I was the embedded librarian in the article!

    I actually was more thoroughly embedded into the class. The students were also blogging, and I followed their blogs faithful and provided comments. The students were also required to bookmark links of interest using Delicious.com and I would often go back and bookmark the links I provided on Twitter with the class’ Delicious tag so that they could find them again. When the students met in Second Life (whenever the prof had to be out of town) I would go in there with them.

    This entire project was a collaboration with the professor from the get-go. It’s not like I just popped on the Twitter account, sent some links and called it a day. The students came to me for research help – via email, Facebook, Twitter and even in person, for this class as well as others. More instruction as to how to research and find info happened in those spaces. Twitter was merely one way I was a part of their class experience. The class called me “our librarian” – many of them still come to me, several semesters after the class has been over!

    • davidshumaker Says:


      Thanks so much for adding this clarification! It’s not the first time the press hasn’t exactly gotten the full story. 😦 It’s really good to have these added details.


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