Like many libraries we are going through a revisioning process at UNCG University Libraries. Specifically, we are examining our current liaison model to understand how it functions and where to go with it in the future. Steve Cramer has written a bit on this including a description of the current stage in the process. You can read more about the questionnaire they sent out.
Yesterday I was answering the questionnaire (yay! procrastination!) and while I am opinionated, I had trouble with this one. Why? Well, the one thing I do in my job that has had the highest impact on my liaison role (teaching a class on world politics) is not considered part of my job (being a librarian). So, how do I say that this is important when it is officially disqualified?
- I’ve used numbers – My consult stats have doubled since I started teaching.
- I’ve used faculty comments – The professors see me as more of a departmental colleague than before.
- I’ve used narrative descriptions of my work – I fundamentally know that I am a better Political Science librarian because I understand the field and can both find sources effectively and help students fit those sources in the broader context of political science. This knowledge doesn’t just come from the degrees I got over 10-20 years ago. It comes from teaching this stuff and reading in my field currently.
I’ve run out of options on proving value, but I’m going to say it again in my answers to this questionnaire. I think maybe tying it into the larger picture of the subject expert may help. The questionnaire asks which responsibilities you feel need additional time. For me, I could do more continuing education within my fields. I wrote:
I would like to devote more time to learning about data resources and continuing education in my subject specialty (keeping up with the literature and the trends in the field). Since teaching my class I have become more convinced that it is critical that we know our specialties and not just from a resource perspective. In other words, we can’t just know where to look for articles (i.e. which database) or how to search. We need to know what the major debates and concerns in the disciplines are to be able to provide added-value assistance. We aren’t here just to email the faculty every so often. We were hired for our knowledge beyond basic librarianship.
Someone told me that I should just go back and get my PhD because I wanted to do political science and not librarianship. I’ve definitely thought long and hard about that option, but the truth is, I like being a librarian. I like this profession. I like that its mission is to help people find and understand the information around them. But, I knew coming into the profession that I had additional skills and knowledge to provide and that I wanted to work in those areas. If I have the ability and training necessary to teach in a discipline, why should that be in competition with my work as a librarian? In my experience, teaching and subject knowledge is the added-value that makes me a better resource than a database, or dare I say it, Google.
And the title should be sung to Reflections by The Supremes … Dig those outfits.