ARL Publishes Report on Transforming Liaison Roles in Research Libraries

    ARL today released Transforming Liaison Roles in Research Libraries, the third report in the New Roles for New Times series. This series highlights the transformation of the library workforce to address new challenges for research libraries in serving 21st-century students, educators, schools, and researchers.

    The new report, written by Janice M. Jaguszewski from University of Minnesota Libraries and Karen Williams from University of Arizona Libraries, presents findings from interviews and other research into current trends in liaison librarianship, surfacing several challenges to the established, overarching liaison structure.

    The report proposes that evolving research library environments—including shifting technology, student learning, and scholarly practices—call for a fresh look into the role of research library liaisons. Through their interviews, Jaguszewski and Williams find a general consensus that changing liaison roles are presenting organizational challenges, including identifying limitations to individual expertise, redesigning related institutional structures, and ensuring liaisons have proper training and know-how. The authors present an overall trend toward a hybrid model where liaisons pair their expertise with that of functional specialists, both within and outside of libraries, in an effort to further meet the needs of students and scholars alike.

    In all, the report identifies six specific trends in the development of new roles for library liaisons based on focusing on what users do rather than on what librarians do. The authors note that by understanding the changing needs and practices of scholars and students, librarians can help shape future directions for the library and advance the library’s mission within the larger institution. In one example, the report’s appendix includes a video interview with Jonathan Koffel, a University of Minnesota health sciences librarian who initiated a partnership with medical faculty to embed information resources in radiology reports.

    This report is freely available to download from ARL’s New Roles for New Times website. Jaguszewski and Williams will present their findings in a free webcast on Friday, September 27, 2013, at 11:30 a.m. eastern, followed by a panel of reactors from the research library community. Register for the webcast through the ARL website.