Subject librarians play a critical role in fostering relationships between their respective libraries and the discipline faculty and students of each particular college within a university.
My library, the Pollak Library, at California State University Fullerton, is in the middle of recruitment for a new science librarian. Sitting through the candidate presentations this week reminded me about the innovative ways good subject librarians continue to provide added value to discipline faculty and their students.
Our subject librarians are encouraged to do outreach with their assigned colleges and departments, they are expected to build both class-specific and subject research guides and to keep that content current, and they juggle a full schedule of weekly Library Instruction (LI) sessions that focus on a specific class assignment. It is up to each professor to request an LI session for his or her class. And fortunately, many of our professors make good use of that service.
But, what about those students who end up in classes with professors that don’t make use of LI sessions? Those students might not ever see a research guide, and might not ever know that we have librarians assigned to their specific class or major. How then should academic libraries try to educate students and discipline faculty about the added value subject librarians can provide to their studies and curriculum, how to find their subject librarian, and how to contact their subject librarian?
Create a Promotional Video
I first highlighted the outstanding “Library Minute” video series by Arizona State University Libraries back in June 2009, and I continually look forward to the fun creative informative work they produce on an almost a monthly basis. Their “Meet Your Subject Librarian” video does a great job of explaining — in 69 seconds — the value and specialized services offered by subject librarians assigned to each college. And I love how they did this through a mashup that includes old historical video footage too.
Catalog Them in Your Discovery Tools
There has been a lot of buzz lately about how the University of Michigan’s MLibrary is including subject librarians in their website search results by mapping Library of Congress call numbers to academic disciplines. You can read about this technique in their blog.
Take Advantage of Social Media
As the person who coordinates most of the social media efforts on behalf of the Pollak Library, I try to highlight our subject research guides across our Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace channels every week.
What other innovative methods does your library use to promote your subject librarians? What creative examples have you seen from other libraries and colleges?