Subject librarian 2.0

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Last Update

  • Updated.jpg This entry is out of date, and will not be updated, February 2018


See also Academic libraries 2.0 | Blogs | Digital liaison | Embedded librarianship | Facebook | Health librarian 2.0 | Mentoring in academic libraries | Twitter

Subject librarian 2.0 was first used at ACRL in 2009 but has seen no or little uptake since. With so few academic librarians using the term (and few articles written about it) it has not caught on beyond a small group of proponents. (See searches in Google or Google scholar.) The academic librarians at ACRL aimed to identify new challenges and future opportunities for liaison librarians and subject specialists, and suggested the 2.0 moniker might have some promise. In the early stages of their exploration, their views seemed to be out of step and did not reflect changes in academic librarianship. These ACRL librarians outlined emerging roles, skills needed to fulfill new roles, and suggestions about how to develop new skills to thrive in 2.0 environments. Their application of the "2.0" suffix was clumsy and regrettable. The 2.0 suffix is a source of confusion, and few librarians could define it. For those academic librarians new to web 2.0, the 2.0 suffix seemed to be used for everything from soup to nuts but commonly along two lines: 1) to denote a new generation, edition or version of something in our profession (and in our work) and 2) to align an older model or version of our field with the catchy, revolutionary sense of web 2.0. For heaven's sake - let's get some definitions, policies and strategies in place before we start throwing these terms around. They are eye-catching but often misleading.

What is subject librarian 2.0?

Before writing this entry, I search for a coherent definition of the term subject librarian 2.0. Academic librarianship is going through radical changes and a number of challenges and opportunities are available to subject liaison librarians through the use of web services and social media. Subject librarians (like their other academic library peers in public, technical and administrative services) are dealing with some uncertainty because of the many changes in scholarly communication, collection development and outreach to faculty and students within their institutions.

That said, some questions that are part of this debate include:

  1. What are the new roles that have emerged for academic library subject liaisons over the last 3-5 years?
  2. What roles will become important in the next 5 years?
  3. How can liaison librarians work across disciplines to meet the needs of interdisciplinary research?
  4. How conversant should they be with new technologies?
  5. Should they serve as technology consultants for faculty who do not have time to integrate technology into their courses?
  6. What is the role of scholarly communication in the work of liaisons? To what extent should liaisons be advocating for and actively creating change in the publishing environment?
  7. Will liaisons be expected to play a larger role in instruction and curriculum design?
  8. What new roles does e-science present?
  9. What skills will liaisons need in the next 3-5 years? What core set of skills should we expect of all liaisons?
  10. How can our more senior staff acquire these skills?
  11. How can we address the discomfort and occasional resistance that accompanies a change in roles and expectations?

Other suggestions for subject librarians

Karen Williams says that:

  1. "Everything we do at UMinnesota supports and advances higher education. We are different from public services, which has little relevance outside of the library space."
  2. "How do we make the SL 2.0 model happen?"
  3. "Position Description Framework: scholarly communication, teaching and learning, digital tools, outreach, collection development & management, fund raising, reference services."
  4. "Nothing is static anymore in our universes."
  5. "Teaching and learning” does not refer to “bibliographic instruction” or info literacy - it’s beyond that. UM wants to move beyond the old “guest lectures” model."
  6. "Scholarly Communication is the focus of her talk. Very dense slide - she will upload them to the appropriate place for people to read."
  7. "They form “collaboratives” at Minnesota - everyone participates “very broadly.”"
  8. "Staff dev and support: experts, environmental scan, resources & tools, templates, action plans - toolkit created so no one has to start from scratch.
  9. "Recruited advocates from faculty in other departments."
  10. "Launched their Institutional Repository with collections already loaded so there were no empty links."
  11. "A system view: constituent behaviors, library vision/mission/goals, position descriptions/realistic jobs, individual goals, knowledge/skills/ability, staff education, resources, performance evaluation."
  12. "Have moved away from collection dev activities by using approval plans more heavily to free up liaison time. Also will scale down time spent at ref desk."
  13. "Create a “risktaking” environment; you have to celebrate failures as well as successes."

Canadian context

According to this Google search on "Subject librarian 2.0, this wiki entry is the only occurrence of the phrase in Canada. 800px-Flag of Canada.svg.png


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