Embedded Librarians Rebound!


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Presented to the OCLC Research Forum, June 5, 2012

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Embedded Librarians Rebound!

  1. 1. This presentation was given at the OCLC Research Forum meeting, “LibrariesRebound: Embracing Mission, Maximizing Impact”, in Philadelphia on June 5, 2012.(See http://www.oclc.org/research/events/2012-06-05.htm )The central theme is that academic librarians should explore opportunities to becomeembedded in research and other activities in higher education, in addition toinstruction. 1
  2. 2. In 1992, 22-year-old Mark Andreessen helped ignite the greatest informationrevolution in the last 500 years by creating the first graphical web browser. Librariesare still working through the disruption to traditional library operations from thatevent. Now, 20 years later, Andreessen is a highly successful venture capitalist inSilicon Valley. In the May 2012 Wired magazine, he predicts further fundamentaltechnological disruption, and education is first on his list of sectors to be disrupted. 2
  3. 3. Maybe Andreessen has been reading “The Innovative University” by Christensen andEyring. 3
  4. 4. I imagine he’s well aware of these initiatives that could lead to profound disruption oftraditional higher education. The point is, signs of fundamental change are all aroundus – as if academic librarians didn’t have enough on their plate already! 4
  5. 5. So what should we do? Let’s start by reaffirming our fundamental principles. I thinkthis mission statement articulated by David Lankes in his book, “Atlas of the NewLibrarianship”, is an excellent starting point. 5
  6. 6. The question is, with our changing circumstances and the disruption of our oldmodels, how can we best achieve our mission? I propose that embeddedlibrarianship is a promising approach that is being widely adopted. Here’s a definitionof embedded librarianship. 6
  7. 7. When we look across all sectors of librarianship (as in the SLA-funded “Models ofEmbedded Librarianship” research), we see that embedded librarians perform a widearray of professional tasks. However, in higher education our research has found, andthe literature confirms, that embedded librarians are focused on embeddedinformation literacy instruction almost to the exclusion of other kinds ofcontributions to the academic enterprise. Why not branch out? 7
  8. 8. The research mission of higher education is ripe for the engagement of librarians.These three trends are among the reasons why. 8
  9. 9. This cycle portrays five critical activities that are needed to develop and sustain new embedded roles. 9
  10. 10. When you are successful, you get clear indications of your value to the organization.Like this. (from the Models of Embedded Librarianship research) 10
  11. 11. And this. (also from the Models of Embedded Librarianship research) 11
  12. 12. And this. (Citation: Kho, N. Information Today, March 2011, p. 1.) 12
  13. 13. So, I encourage you to consider how embedding into the research mission of yourinstitution might be a part of the overall strategy for your academic library. Thankyou. 13