The Librarians are Everywhere

“The librarians are everywhere. They are going where they need to be.”

This comment was overhead at our campus annual faculty active learning retreat earlier this semester. It was true – you couldn’t turn around in a session without seeing a librarian in the group. We have librarians very engaged with teaching and learning issues on campus! But, for me – it also speaks to a fundamental strategy for librarians. Be visible. Be present. Be around.

I keep finding time and time again that the best opportunities to connect with faculty come from seeing them at meetings, events, presentations, etc. These informal conversations lead to lasting and programmtic efforts and have a sense of ‘naturalness’ about them that breaks down some of the barriers that are inadvertantly set up in formal, scheduled meetings. The informality allows conversation to emerge as colleagues exploring topics of mutual interest rather than Hi, I’m the librarian and I’m here to collaborate on you.

We’re starting a list of campus events we want to keep attending and participating in with our classroom faculty. What do you do?

Lisa Hinchliffe

Author: Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe

Lisa is Head, Undergraduate Library, Coordinator for Information Literacy Services and Instruction, Office of Services, and Associate Professor, Library Administration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

5 thoughts on “The Librarians are Everywhere”

  1. Lisa—I couldn’t agree with you more. As the head of our library instructional services department, some of my best opportunities have come from conversations with faculty colleagues while waiting for a meeting to begin or in attendance at some university function. Interacting with faculty from across campus as a peer opens lots of doors for meaningful information literacy initiatives.

  2. Lisa, this is brilliant! So nice to see/hear this happening. It is what I call “normalizing” the communication. Formal meetings typically bring out set roles and behaviors that actually are less conducive to understanding than these informal and natural connections. And it has been my experience that when you take an interest in the work of faculty (or curators) they respond in ways different from when you are “selling” your services in a more formal way and from the library’s perspective.

  3. This is so important for not only our librarians to actively engage but also one of the only ways to really become visible and show their integration into campus life. Faculty are notoriously difficult to get a hold of, emails inviting them to collaborate are not sufficient. I am near the completion of my library degree and have been working in libraries for many years. I have heard librarians complain about faculty’s lack of interest but then find out that they have not gotten themselves out into the faculty’s environment. I have personally found that the only way to market your services and get collaborating is to not only take an interest in the work of faculty but to become a regularly recognized peer.

  4. I say, “I’d love to collaborate, but, if I attend your meeting, the students in the library will go unserved as I am the only librarian here. You’ll have to drop by if you want to talk.”

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