Our liaison task force continues to roll along, if a bit slower lately due to summer vacations. We have finished our timeline of collection development work, categorized the main responsibilities of liaisons, and brainstormed with our colleagues from Wake Forest. Since then our focus has been benchmarking innovative liaison organizational models. This has proved challenging, since there aren’t many exciting examples to find, it seems. Below is our summary of benchmarking so far. We haven’t contacted representatives from any of those libraries yet, but will probably try to ask some specific questions about their operations later.
On Thursday we begin moving into our final stage: recommending several different liaison models for consideration. Based on the interesting models we have benchmarked as well as the strengths and weaknesses of our current model (similar to the list from the WFU discussion), I think we will have fun sketching some rough possibilities on the white boards.
If other folks know of some interesting models, I would love to hear from you!
We benchmarked libraries through:
- Searching the Library Literature database;
- Searching library web sites;
- Browsing the library web sites of the UNC campuses and our peer institutions;
- Asking around at the ALA summer conference;
- Most libraries have a similar liaison organizational model to ours (liaisons based in many departments with some major liaison responsibilities not centrally coordinated or evaluated).
- Most libraries – unlike ours – have a collections department. The smallest such departments have a department head and several staff members; larger ones include a mix of staff and library faculty.
- Some libraries have co-liaisons or liaison partners, with staff, library faculty, or LIS interns working with the original liaison.
- A few libraries have liaison teams, ex. the “Humanities Team.” Utah State (see below) has the most interesting team approach we have seen.
- Only a few libraries have innovative departmental models for liaison work. Johns Hopkins and Villanova are examples (see below). We will most likely contact these departments to learn more about how they work and what the differences are from their previous organizational model.
Innovative team approach:
The library here once had a collection development head who did most of the collections work. When he retired, the liaisons (who previously only did public service work) were able to take responsibility for collections work for their academic departments. So the liaisons ended up with a mix of responsibilities like we have here at UNCG. Like UNCG, the liaisons are based in different library departments.
The liaisons formed 5 subject teams (ex. Science & Engineering).
The three separate sets of meetings – for collection development, instruction, and reference –were combined into one set of “Subject Librarians” meetings. The liaisons are coordinated by the Heads of Collections, Reference, Regional Campuses & Distance Education, and Library Instruction. These four coordinators are also involved with each subject team (ex. Science & Engineering) as needed.
The library also formed a Subject Librarians Advisory Council to handle major policy questions. The chair of the council rotates among the Library’s associate deans, all three of whom sit on the committee. The four coordinators, some of the subject librarians (in two-year terms), the heads of Collections and Technical Services, and the E-Resources librarian are the other members.
So Utah State has created a complex but more holistic version of UNCG’s current approach to liaison organization. Meanwhile, the liaisons continue to be based in several traditional library departments. One Utah State librarian notes that “some uncertainly remains, however, from the fact that subject librarians report to many different departments so it’s not always clear who evaluates performance in collection development and related roles.”
Presentation on their new subject librarian team structure:
List of their (still quite traditional) library departments:
Innovative departmental approaches:
The libraries have an Academic Liaison Department. The department head is an Associate Director. According to the department’s homepage,
The mission of the Academic Liaison Department is to support academic excellence at Johns Hopkins University. Research Services serves the academic community through subject specialists working directly with library users in their particular disciplines. Librarians are assigned to each academic department and program in the Homewood schools. Focusing on the specific needs of those departments and programs, they build collections, provide reference services and research consultations, and offer instruction in library and information use.
Based on that URL and the breadcrumbs on that page, it looks like this department was once the RSC department – perhaps the old Research/Reference department?
This library has an Academic Integration department. According to its homepage:
The Academic Integration service framework integrates library collections, resources and services with the learning and research priorities of the University through instructional activities, research consulting, collection development, and Web access.
Eight discipline and college oriented Library Liaison Teams are the backbone of Falvey’s academic integration service model. Team members collaborate in the areas of research support, instruction, and collection development.
The head of this department is the Coordinator for Academic Integration. However, there are also heads of Instructional Services and Collection Development. The library has two press releases about the creation of the Academic Integration department:
Director’s Watch column: Recent developments here at Falvey (2006)
Focus on Falvey’s new organizational structure: Academic Integration (2007)
Meanwhile, the library has an Information & Research Assistance team (not a department) that handles reference services. Team members overlap with the Academic Integration department.
Possibility of being interesting:
UNC Chapel Hill
The Research Services Department in Davis Library includes a “coordinator of liaison services” who is working on a new liaison organizational model. (She is not a department head.) We will try to find out what is going on in our sister library.