I attended the “Working Together, Working Better” session on liaison relationships in art, architecture and visual resources. In it the speakers addressed the many ways in which librarians can develop close and fruitful relationships with their academic departments.
Deborah Boudewyns gave us a good overview of the issues surrounding the liaison role of the librarian, particularly pointing out the lack of training in this area in library science programs. Leanne Hindmarch described the “college librarian model” for liaison work at California Polytechnic State University and the way that they attempt to turn the library liaison role on its head by advocating for one’s subject department in the library rather than advocating for the library in one’s subject department. Annette Haines shared her experiences as a field librarian who has an office in her liaison department. Finally, Elaine Paul shared with us the many different ways that visual resource curators can reach out to and connect with the campus.
I came out of the session with a lot of good ideas about how I can develop liaison relationships with departments on campus. One idea that particularly resonated with me was liaisoning as a team. See if it’s possible to collaborate with other academic and institutional units such as information technology, career, and writing centers in presenting your services as a group. This might help faculty see the many angles at which campus services can help to improve the teaching and learning experience. Plus many voices are usually more powerful than one. Are there ways in which your library has collaborated with other campus units to develop liaison relationships?
I also found interesting that a couple of different speakers brought up the issue of identity. Liaison librarians have to achieve a balance between their relationships to departments and their relationship with the library. A successful liaison librarians will be considered part of the team in their academic department, but it is important to balance this with their connections to the library. It seems the best liaison librarian is able to try to keep the interests of both the department and the library at heart, and communication is key here. As subject librarians, have any of you ever felt the challenges of this balance?