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ERIC Number: EJ1058131
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Mar
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0870
From Engaging Liaison Librarians to Engaging Communities
Kenney, Anne R.
College & Research Libraries, v76 n3 p386-391 Mar 2015
Kara J. Malenfant wrote in her 2010 article "Leading Change in the System of Scholarly Communication: A Case Study of Engaging Liaison Librarians for Outreach to Faculty" that it would be interesting to revisit the University of Minnesota (UMN) Libraries in three years and see how they are doing. Malenfant had documented a culture shift underway at the (UMN) Libraries that focused liaison work outward toward campus engagement. In preparing this companion essay, Anne Kenney interviewed University Librarian Wendy Lougee, who affirmed that the forces at work then had ripened and matured at UMN. Lougee noted that the shift described in the article had been underway for some time, so the expansion to scholarly communication was a natural extension of efforts to embrace a full spectrum of services from creation to curation. The library had earlier brought in R2 consulting to streamline workflows associated with the full spectrum of "selection to access" for monographs, moved aggressively to reconceive technical services, shifting greater investment to shelf-ready approval plans, devoted resources to developing a campus repository, and in general had embraced the concept of the diffuse library. These process improvements freed up capacity within existing staff to pursue other work. Within this context, the University of Minnesota became an early leader in the liaison movement, and Associate University Librarian for Academic Programs, Karen Williams, articulated a forceful sea change from a collections-centric to an engagement-centered model for librarianship. In the process, the campus came to view the library as a critical component in the scholarly communications infrastructure. The leadership and change process at UMN provided a strong exemplar for others to follow. Probably its most significant impact has been to influence the adoption of liaison functions at other academic libraries. At both ALA meetings in 2014, for example, approximately fifty coordinators of liaison programs from thirty-five academic research libraries met under the auspices of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) to discuss ways to improve the liaison model. Similar gatherings and presentations on liaison activities have become a normal part of library conferences today. Given the fairly widespread take-up of the liaison model, this article identifies and outlines six key issues that will affect the model moving forward. They include: (1) Definitional Issues; (2) The Pace of Change; (3) The Last Mile; (4) Assessment; (5) Moving up; and (6) Moving out. By focusing on the process rather than the role, appreciating the unevenness of change, bridging the last mile, measuring impact and success, and moving upstream and outward, liaisons will reconfirm that not only is the library the place to go when you don't know, it's also the place to reengage with each other.
Association of College and Research Libraries. 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Minnesota