This will be my last session-related post. I went to several CZS sessions yesterday, but they’ve already been blogged admirably, so I won’t be redundant. I made a conscious decision not to be be so gung-ho as it was wearing me out! I was able to cram in a short time at the Pacific Science Center late yesterday afternoon. I recommend it, especially the Tropical Butterfly House and the naked mole-rats.
Today’s post concerns the Subject Liaison2. 0 presentation. As an accidental science liaison, I’m curious about ways I can improve my ability to interact with faculty and students of subjects I have not usually taken on (being a Medieval History guy in college, there wasn’t much call for studying Biology). Strangely, I’ve rediscovered my interest in science (I wanted to be a scientist of some kind when I was in elementary school). I’ll be live blogging this session.
Mel DeSart of the University of Washington’s Engineering Library kicked off the session. Very funny use of the track from the Bionic Man – he says were not going to get that type of suggestion – no bionic liaison. 2.0 suggests a big jump or new form, however. They are going to say where SL librarians are now and what direction we need to be moving in.
Jim Neal, the Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian at Columbia University
- Providing an administrative perspective on subject librarianship.
- SL needs to be considered in the larger context of where Academic libraries are heading.
- Academic librariesare still going to be “fundamental infrastructure” for modern academic institutions: legacy, infrastructure, repository, portal, etc.
- SLs help us respond to user expectations: content, access, convenience, new capabilities, cost reduction, participation, individual productivity, individual control and organizational productivity.
- Core responsibilities: selection, acquisition, synthesis, navigation, dissemination, interpretation, understanding, use, application, archiving – all in support of teaching and learning.
- New responsibilities (old ones are not enough): libraries as consumers, intermediaries and aggregators, publishers, educators, r&d, entrepreneurs, policy advocates. – transcends Information Literacy.
- Expectations for the SL: commitment to – rigor, r&d, assessment and evaluation, marketing skills, political engagement, project dev and mgmt, entrepreneurial spirit, resource development, leadership, deep subject or technical expertise. We can only be successful if we build this capacity in our libraries.
- Need clear sense of mission, self vision, base of knowledge, strategic positioning, continuous improvement.
- Feral Professionals (raised by wolves – not necessarily one type of academic degree – not even necessarily MLS ) – Professionals with diverse academic credentials, wide range of new professional assignments, professional roles of support staff and students.
- SL relations to patrons: servant, stranger, parallel, friend, partner, customer, team – the last three are the ones that need to be developed.
- Subject Librarians must enable: social networking, collective intelligence, permanent beta, authorship revolution, software as service/not product, artificial intelligence/expert systems, library as participation/not information. – not just “find” but “mine” information. We need a higher level of “professional maturity” to deal with the 2.0 (and, ultimately, 3.0) environment.
- Complexity, ambiguity, flexibility, perpetual assessment, challenges to powers that be, low tolerance for management by cliche, erosion of boundaries and inflexible structures.
- Users want us to be: authoritative and virtuoso, authenticated and secure, appropriate and pertinent, accessible and virtual and omnipresent, achromatic and advocative, audacious and attentive, assimilative and virtuous.
- Must evaluate our work in terms of “human objectives.”
- Overall, a pretty densely packed presentation – thought provoking and a bit disturbing at the same time.
Karen Williams of the University of Minnesota
- She agrees wholeheartedly with Neal.
- Everything they do supports and advances higher education. Different from public services, which has little relevance outside of the library space.
- How do we make the SL 2.0 model happen?
- Position Description Framework: scholarly communication, teaching and learning, digital tools, outreach, collection development & management, fund raising, reference services.
- “Nothing is static anymore in our universes.”
- “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.
- Scholarly Communication is the focus of her talk. Very dense slide – she will upload them to the appropriate place for people to read.
- They form “collaboratives” at Minnesota – everyone participates “very broadly.”
- Staff dev and support: experts, environmental scan, resources & tools, templates, action plans – toolkit created so no one has to start from scratch.
- Recruited advocates from faculty in other departments.
- Launched their Institutional Repository with collections already loaded so there were no empty links.
- A system view: constituent behaviors, library vision/mission/goals, position descriptions/realistic jobs, individual goals, knowledge/skills/ability, staff education, resources, performance evaluation.
- 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.
- Create a “risktaking” environment; you have to celebrate failures as well as successes.
Kara Whatley, Head, Coles Science Center at New York University
- She put out a plug for the Science Information Literacy Wiki.
- Draws from: her work at NYU and other sources.
- The Holy Trinity: Reference, Instruction, Collectin Development
- Reference: virtual, in-depth consultations, collaborative/team reference (use VR, blogs, etc.), data reference.
- Collection Development: on-demand purchasing, focus on “medium rare” items, collecting new media, relying more heavily on approval plans.
- Instruction: course-embedded librarians, effective assessment, instructional design techniques. Shift our teaching to make sure we are really providing effective instruction.
- Expanding roles: engagement in knowledge creation, embedded librarianship, technologist, grant writing, communicator/politician.
- New twists on old skills: mediation (“middleware” – connector between patrons and info); organization of information – tagging and metadata; preservation of info – data, new media; event planning/programming (need to find ways to get people into the library, since the collections are being used mostly virtually).
- Development of new skills: “Just do it!”; technology competency and training; continuing education opportunities – small conferences, summer institutes for practicing librarians.
- Things to consider changing (either by curtailing or strengthening): multi-desk reference service, firm ordering as we know it, stronger partnerships with campus IT, sharing common needs across librarians, going mobile.
The session was good, moving from more complex abstract considerations to a more concrete example of how subject librarians work. In the end, Whatley’s presentation was, perhaps, more useful for a CC librarian, since we need practical, practitioner advice.