Embedded Librarians

Source: Inside Higher Ed, June 9, 2010

…The library will be “recycling” much of its print collection, and storing other books offsite; faculty and students will be able to send away for the hard copies via snail mail — like Netflix.

The model Roderer and her staff are pursuing is distributed not only in the sense that every researcher’s computer can access the library’s website and its vaults of electronic journal articles and e-books, but in that library personnel are embedded in various departments to work with researchers on their own turf. These staffers are no longer called librarians; they are “informationists.” (Roderer did not invent the term, but she prefers it to “librarian,” which she says evokes envoys from a faraway building rather than information experts whose skills are applicable anywhere.) …

…Different sorts of libraries serve different sorts of patrons, and for that reason, Schonfeld cautions against holding up the Welch as an example that can be replicated across many institutions. “Any library specialized around a certain field or discipline has the increased flexibility to serve the needs of that field only,” he says, “whereas a general library has a broader constituency that it has to balance its resources across.”

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