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Stretched-too-thin librarians

Page history last edited by Colleen Lyon 13 years, 8 months ago


Stretched-too-thin librarians

Facilitator: Bill Jacobs


Introductions & why do you feel stretched-too-thin?

-at the limit of what I can realistically handle so I’m secretly happy that not all my faculty contact me

-Our university has switched to a function based positions rather than subject specialists because the subject specialist model was not sustainable

-New librarian just starting up (3-4 weeks on the job) and haven’t really gotten introduced to faculty yet

-Solo librarian at an engineering firm straddling the line between wanting people to be aware of services and kind of hiding out to avoid additional work that wouldn’t really be sustainable

-Problems with unevenness in scope of responsibility, management issues

-Trying to create meaningful contacts and build better relationships

-Relatively new to position as public services team leader (after a reorganization) and only have 2 other professional positions to help with all the work load

-Drastic loss of faculty librarians and struggling to juggle way too many liaison areas

-Trying to ride the fine line between being available and having a good relationship with a department and becoming overcommitted

-With our small staff we wonder if we are meeting the needs of the upper-level undergraduates and graduate students who are involved in bringing in grant money.  How do we handle the responsibilities to freshman level classes and remain critical partner for faculty & grad students?

-Working on a campus where “serious” science hasn’t really been happening (before I showed up there was no one in my role for 2 years)


How do you know when you have too much work?

-when I have to say no

-when we can no longer be available for reference

-when we have grad students teaching some information literacy sessions for freshman composition students


How have your organizations responded to increasing responsibilities and work load for librarians?

-University of Arizona has moved to fuction-based role and almost all online instruction

*they capitalize on the skills of individual librarians in software, resource knowledge and class assignment knowledge

*librarians are able to make exceptions to the online instruction model after a consultation with a faculty member has revealed that in-person instruction would be more effective (for instance the organization and use of information within a discipline rather than learning to use a specific database)

*when questions come into the library they aren’t forwarded on to a subject specialist they are forwarded to anyone within the library who has the expertise to answer

*they are working towards training staff on new resources

*librarians are in more of a generalist role now

-Colorado School of Mines has standardized info lit instruction for the 60 sections of required class at the college. 

*They approached coordinator of the required class and asked what the students need to know-that is what they teach.  No more specialized instruction for individual instructors

*The scheduling of the classes has been standardized so that it all occurs during one week-they have tried not to make exceptions to this

-One college no longer offers one-on-one instruction

-A few librarians expressed the opinion that instruction was starting to suffer

-Some universities are working with departments to try to mold info lit instruction to the curriculum-only doing it where it makes sense and trying not to overlap and repeat

-We are spending time creating online tutorials but are students using them? 

-Getting pressure from higher-ups about residuals (e.g. you taught a class so why are people coming into the library with research questions?)


What is happening with collection development at your organization?

-Some libraries are pushing towards outsourcing for collection development

-Might not be librarians who are ordering books and maintaining collections

-Approval plans

-Basing decisions on statistics and little else


-Deprofessionalization of librarians

*no librarians on the reference desk (reference is a teaching moment so is this being handling well by staff and students staffing the desk)

*no reference desk-moving to a help desk or a single service point (concern about lack of training for those staffing this help desk)

*having grad students teaching some of the info lit classes

-This brought up concerns that perhaps the MLS will no longer be a viable degree

-It also brought up a question as to whether some of what we are doing doesn’t require an MLS

-Class work doesn’t seem to be keeping up with new resources.  This means that faculty are asking so little of their students that Google suffices.

-Do we need to reevaluate what we are doing as librarians and libraries?


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