Embedded Librarianship

There has been alot of talk about embedded librarianship as of late. I have had the good fortune to hold office hours the past year in Rice’s math department, and thought I would share today a little of that experience.

Overall, it has been an incredibly rewarding experience, and I feel that I have been very useful, accessible, and have shared alot of information with the faculty and students, and have gotten some great suggestions. Originally, they had put me in an office, but I did get less traffic, and felt like I was hanging out in the hallway too much. I have now stationed myself in the coffee lounge, and that is a great location. There is a chalk board behind me, and I always write my name, math librarian, hours I am there, and phone and email address on it–I see people that look at it, and at least know who I am if they don’t speak to me. I have a wiki that I maintain in PBWORKS, and almost every session I pop it up, and keep some notes. Here are some of the entries, edited, to protect privacy.

Jan 7th, 2009
Giveaway–puzzle game. Faculty member didn’t like the access to Bulletin of LMJ. (OUTCOME: Improved access points to Bulletin of London Mathematical Journal. (Changed “current access” link to read “all issues” with input from the serials cataloger.)

Jan 14th, 2009
Have poster advertising library research award.  Have two books to give away–Calculus, 8th edition, Purcell, and Partial Differential Equations, Gockenbach.
SERVICE ISSUE on our website:

*     “If you simply want the item after the current user returns it, come to the circulation desk to place a hold. * The current user will not have to return the item early, but will not be able to renew it.
* When returned the item will be held for you for 10 days. You will be notified by email when the item is available. All items are subject to recall.
* ACTION ITEM: IT SHOULD NOT BE REQUIRED FOR A PERSON TO COME TO THE CIRCULATION DESK TO PLACE A HOLD!

Feb. 4th:
Ageed to buy backfiles of Communications on Pure & Applied Analysis, Discrete and continous Dynamical Systems when money becomes available.  Check on Annales de l’Institute Henri Poincare digitization earlier from 1997.

ACTION ITEM: Order:  Karatzas & Shreve Brownian motion & Stochastic Calculus, Springer; P.M Meyer Probability & Potentials Blaisdell; Weak Convergence of prob. measures Billingsley; Martin and England Entropy & Information. UPDATE: I ordered all on 2/5.
August, 26th 2009
Postdoc question: Who publishes in the Siberian Journal of Mathematics? Do you have the video about Julie Robertson?
Order Mathematical Physics–communications/reviews. Did search on Elliott Lieb in One search with fair results.
Postdocs -teaching math–order books to support them.

Several postdocs recommended that I take a look at the video library from MSRI UMichigan.

Sept. 10th, 2009
Several postdocs had the question about doing multiple professor names for the instructor of a course–that way they could put, say, three books on reserve, and all sections could share them.
Also, it would be nice if the Ares system worked the same way that ILL/Worldcat does–one could populate the form with data from worldcat, instead of typing everything in separately.

Takeaway points: I am positive most of these suggestions on collection development, and services WOULD NOT HAVE COME UP, if the user had not have happened to see me. They didn’t have to make the effort to come to the reference desk of the library, or to email me, or call me or anything. I was just there, they were just there, and it was conversational.

Is it always easy? No, you have to build relationships. I have had a faculty member ask me kindly, “Why are you here? ” Minutes later, after he had walked away, I had a new faculty member come and ask me about Interlibrary loan, and how to set up his account. THAT is why I am there.

I think more and more of this type of activity will happen–and embedded librarianship, whether it is office hours in a department, or being a part of a workgroup, or co-teaching with a professor.

It is about service, and going the extra mile to be where our users need us to be.

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About effervescentlibrarian

UX Librarian at Rice University, Houston, Texas.
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