The ACRL’s blog has a post related to the willingness of academic clients to accept the expertise/advice/recommendations/work of liaison librarians & information literacy. This post is written by an author whose work I much admire. In this particular post though, I find myself wondering if the case put is a bit too simplistic for the complexity of the university environment as I have experienced it (which I recognise may not be representative of the experiences of other liaison type librarians no matter where they work). At first blush I’m thinking a few things but I’m sure that, with time to ponder, there will be points to add:
- The university environment is a complex one &, in my experience, academic clients have many demands on their time & their thinking. I think that this impacts on some clients’ capacity to take up a librarian’s advice/recommendations/suggestions even though they are in perfect agreement with the librarian
- Academic clients who are passionate & skilled teachers often feel that their work is restricted in ways that are, at their core, very similar to those expressed by liaison/info lit librarians, and that learning & teaching advisors/instructional designers also share these experiences
- Becoming a member of learning & teaching type committees can feel like a great advance providing all kinds of promise for change. But, committees like these often seek administrative solutions to learning & teaching problems, so the reality of membership can be very disappointing
- There is a level of defensiveness amongst some librarians that leads to demeaning, degrading, mocking & frequent complaining about academic clients. I think that this is probably in part associated with issues of professional identity & genuine misunderstandings about clients; with these two reinforcing each other over time creating a cycle that makes change very hard. I think that Collis & Moonen’s 4-E Model might be adapted to create a tool that librarians could use to more systematically evaluate their liaison work & how realistic their expectations are. A Collis & Moonen inspired model might let people see patterns in their ongoing situations (good things of which they aren’t sufficiently aware & the challenges) & ask meaningful questions which could then be used to build a meaningful evidence base to support professional growth as lifelong learning librarians & to respond more positively & usefully to their relationships with academic clients
- Having a tool that helps librarians get an objective & realistic measure of their progress & achievements would also be helpful in a world where spin is so prevalent. I have experienced incessant & shrill self-promotion from librarians who have actually very limited outcomes to show for their work & do not have strong professional relationships with clients. Being an old lady, I have learnt to look for the evidence for the spin & so tend not to be taken in by these people. But, I have also known many less experienced librarians (with superior outcomes to the spinners) to be taken in by all the bluff & feel an ongoing sense of demoralisation as a result
- As liaison work tends to include info lit work, having an understanding of a great learning & teaching tool (through its adaptation) is also of potential benefit to the teacher side of the librarian.
Collis & Moonen’s 4-Es: