Archive for March, 2014

Embedded Librarians in the Lone Star State

March 30, 2014

I’m looking forward to meeting embedded librarians in Texas at the Texas Library Association conference April 10 and 11.

On April 10 I’ll be doing a presentation entitled “Embedded Librarians: Diverse Initiatives but Common Challenges,” developing one of the themes that is most important to me: that we librarians need to hang together, to paraphrase Ben Franklin. Though we embed ourselves in very different communities, and make our presence felt in very different ways, yet we have a great deal in common and can learn a lot from one another.

The next day, I’ll be moderating a panel of leading embedded librarians from around Texas and the USA, including Sally Gore (UMass / Worcester Medical School), Sarah Jones (Spencer Stuart), Cass Kvenild (U. of Wyoming), and Laura Young, Austin Ventures. We’re going to have a wide-open discussion in knowledge cafe format of the top issues for embedded librarians.

We’re developing our list of topics now, so if you’ve got one (or more) that you think should be on our list, reply to this post, or tweet with #txla2014 and #embeddedlibrarians.

p.s. See http://www.txla.org/ for details about the conference.

The Stars Align for Academic Librarians

March 16, 2014

Four stars, to be precise: Kaijsa Calkins, University of Wyoming; Cass Kvenild, University of Wyoming; Elizabeth Leonard, Seton Hall University; and Erin McCaffrey, Regis University.  They’re all collaborating on a webcast, “Embedded Librarianship: The State of the Art” for the Association of College and Research Libraries, on Wednesday, March 26. Kaijsa and Cass are the editors of the groundbreaking collection “Embedded Librarians: Moving Beyond One-Shot Instruction”, and Elizabeth and Erin collaborated on “Virtually Embedded: The Librarian in an Online Environment”, which I mentioned in my last post.

Details at http://www.ala.org/acrl/embeddedlibrarianship .

What I’m Reading Now

March 3, 2014

What I’m reading now is a welcome addition to the literature of embedded librarianship: a new book from the Association of College and Research Libraries, entitled “Virtually Embedded: The Librarian in an Online Environment”, edited by Elizabeth Leonard and Erin McCaffrey.

(Full disclosure: I wrote the Foreword.)

Here’s my favorite passage from the chapters I read today. It comes from the chapter “Embedded Librarians in a Military Distance Education Program”, which describes the embedded librarianship program for distance learning at the U.S. Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC), in Norfolk, Virginia. Authors Catrina Whited, Bridget Powell, and Gail Nicula write:

“…a colleague in another public higher-education institution made this comment: ‘We treat all of our students equally. They all get the same services.’ This philosophy was antithetical to the JFSC [Joint Forces Staff College] library goal …”

Here, the authors have pointed out a common misunderstanding among well-meaning librarians. In seeking to fulfill the American Library Association ethical mandate to provide the “highest level of service to all”, they wind up providing “the same services.” They fail to recognize that needs are different, so that “the highest level” means customizing.

But to customize our services and meet the ethical mandate most effectively, we have to understand our communities. And to understand them, we have to build relationships with them, as we work beside them. And that’s the essence of embedded librarianship.