ACRL IS Current Issue Discussion Digest – ALA Midwinter 2017

“Extreme Makeover: A Blueprint for Redefining the Role of the Liaison Librarian in the Academic Library”

Discussion Convener: Cinthya Ippoliti, Associate Dean for Research and Learning Services, Oklahoma State University Library

February 8, 2017 |2:00 pm 3:00 pm Central Time
Archived Recording
Evaluation Survey

Discussion Materials
Discussion Forum Handout
Impact Spreadsheet
RLS Roadshow PowerPoint
Primary Assignments Liaisons with Impact
2016 Impact Report

Liaison roles have undergone a dramatic transformation in the last decade which shifted focus away from more traditional activities such as providing reference support at a dedicated desk, spending a set amount of collection funds, and conducting library instruction classes based on faculty requests, and on to areas such as outreach, scholarly communications, and research data management. The recent work of Anne Kenney, “Leveraging the Liaison Model” and ARL’s “New Roles for New Times: Transforming Liaison Roles in Research Libraries” have underscored a need for these new directions to be supported through providing professional development for liaisons and developing ways of measuring and communicating the impact of this work.

Oklahoma State University Library is no exception to this trend in the changing role of liaisons. When I was hired as a new Associate Dean for Research and Learning Services in 2014, I was charged with re-envisioning the newly formed Research and Learning Services Division (RLS) to:

  • Develop a new Academic Liaison Program that defines the notion of what it means to be “engaged” as a liaison
  • Create a systematic way to positively engage faculty, staff, and students outside of the classroom and provide targeted programming, services, and support that will focus on all aspects of how our collective community perceives and interacts with the library
  • Implement internal processes for evaluation, innovation, professional development, and scholarship that enable a flexible, cutting-edge approach to daily work and longer-term planning

Utilizing the concepts of managing change through the work of George Kotter, and more recently, Chip and Dan Heath, the authors of “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard,” this discussion session will engage participants to delve into the issues related to these trends. We will analyze a model of change management that addresses the following elements:

  • Reviewing what’s working as well as what’s not
  • Developing a clear vision and direction
  • Breaking down the change into smaller segments
  • Cultivating a sense of identity through shared purpose and new habits

Reflection Questions:

  1. What are the most pressing issues related to the changing roles of liaisons at your institution?
  2. How are you measuring and communicating the impact of these activities to your campuses and communities?
  1. How can you better leverage these opportunities to establish deeper collaborations with faculty, researchers, and students?

Recommended Readings:

Heath, Chip, and Dan Heath. 2010. Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard. New York: Crown Publishing Group.

Jaguszewski, Janice, and Karen Williams. 2013. New Roles for New Times: Transforming Liaison Roles in Research Libraries. Washington, DC: Association of Research Libraries.

Kenney, Anne R. 2014. Leveraging the Liaison Model: From Defining 21st Century Research Libraries to Implementing 21st Century Research Universities. New York: Ithaka S+R.

Kotter, John P., and Dan S. Cohen. 2002. The Heart of Change: Real-life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations. Boston: Harvard Business Press.