emerging roles for academic librarians

I finally had a moment to listen to the archive of ACRL Art’s Virtual Midwinter Meeting. I was particularly interested in Joe Clark’s presentation about the Emerging Roles for Academic Librarians. He mentioned that we are moving away from collection-center service to an engagement-centered one. As this happens, the role of subject specialists and reference librarians is changing. This correlates with the recent publication from ARL New Roles for New Times: Transforming Liaison Roles in Research Libraries.

One of the virtual places he pointed us toward is the University of Illinois’ Subject Specialist Task Force Report. At first glance, these tasks seem obvious for a subject liaison. However, there are responsibilities creeping in to the role: such as creating exhibitions, “serve as a resource for scholarly communications, copyright, open access, and the institutional repository” (that’s a hefty load), involvement in fundraising, and outreach to the local community. There is also a whole section just on digital initiatives.

These roles are similar to the ones in the works at Kent State. Joe focused on four:

Programming & Event Planning

Kent State’s libraries host events – over 20 in a year. At the Performing Arts Library, Joe has many recurring events. Open Mic Lunch happens once a month; students and community members can perform. The Director Speaks series usually happens twice a semester. Performing arts directors talk about their approach to their work, usually the week before the theatre production opens. The Colloquium Series covers all of the performing arts and allows faculty, students, and others to present their research or ideas.

Outreach, Engagement, & Promotion

Programming ties in well to outreach and promotion. An event can bring new users to the library. The Performing Arts Library has an annual open house with live performances. There is a Welcome Week that attracts students who haven’t yet discovered the Performing Arts Library space. Student Appreciation Day is simply hot drinks and cookies. We all know cookies will bring a crowd!

Joe reminds us to be patient – attendance may not be large the first few times and some events may be complete duds, never to be tried again. Events take time and energy but the rewards are well worth it!

Fundraising

This isn’t about going out and getting donations. But we can help to identify donors and encourage development officers to bring donors to library events. So programming leads to outreach which leads to fundraising.

User Assessment

Assess user needs through surveys, focus groups, or even informal means. By continually assessing we can continually improve our services and spaces.