The latest addition to the ALA Fundamentals book series is “Fundamentals for the Academic Liaison” (2014), written by Richard Moniz, Jo Henry, and Joe Eshleman:
We wrote this book because we believe that library liaisons are at the forefront with regard to the future of library services in this technological age. (preface, page vii)
(Admission: Richard, Jo, and Joe are friends of mine, and we have presented together a few times.)
Sometimes you hear laments that liaison work is generally not covered in library schools. Yet consider the list of liaison roles and responsibilities covered in this book:
1 Faculty/Staff Orientation Meetings
2 Subject Expertise
3 Communication with Faculty
4 Online Tutorials
5 Faculty Assistance
6 Collection Development
7 Teaching Information Literacy
8 Embedded Librarianship
9 Library Guides
10 Accreditation and New Courses
All that would be really difficult to cover in one 3-credit class! It would take a suite of classes. But for any attempt to cover liaison work in a class, this book would serve as a valuable and practical introductory textbook.
It was perhaps a daunting task to summarize topics like “teaching information literacy” in a 20 page chapter. The authors do often suggest core books and other sources for details. Each chapter includes checklists and concludes with a list of references.
I like how the chapter on embedded librarianship segments out different distinctive examples of such work: online, the physical classroom, and the academic department.
The chapter on evaluation was particularly interesting. Evaluating all aspects of a library’s liaison program remains a new frontier in many libraries. My library has had a detailed collections survey for academic departments for years, and a while ago added a question or two about liaison service; we also collect usage statistics on teaching, consultations, LibGuide and web page access, and e-resource click- through. I collect all the thank-you notes received each year.
But then what? Is there a holistic application of that data and feedback? What about a gap analysis (identifying absent data or feedback from a certain department)? What do I as the X liaison need to try differently next year? Ending the book on this subject really emphasizes how important evaluation should be. What to do with the evaluation would be another useful chapter.
This is a very useful book for liaison newbies but is also useful for experienced liaisons to step back and review the all the possibilities of serving as an academic liaison.