ACRL Liaisons and Key Issues for Higher Education

Debbie Malone (Debbie.malone@desales.edu) and Terry Taylor (TTAYLOR@depaul.edu) provided the information below regarding their work with the Value of Academic Libraries committee and the ACRL Liaison Coordinating Committee. They welcome your comments and questions!

In the 2012 report on ACRL Value of Academic Libraries Summit, Karen Brown and Kara Malenfant identified five major recommendations that came out of the summit work, and the fourth relates to expanding partnerships with higher education organizations to “collaborate on library impact activities and explore potential partnerships.” (p. 14) ACRL’s 15 current liaisons have been involved in this work for a number of years, and in 2013 the Value of Academic Libraries committee appointed a small subcommittee to work with the Liaison Coordinating Committee to bring together the work of our two committees and share information.

We began conversations with Kristen Kingsley, then chair of the Liaison Training and Development Committee, and we decided to ask liaisons to tell us about the major issues facing their target organizations.  The goal was to use these issues to see if the Value of Academic Libraries committee could provide resources and talking points for liaisons that could open the door to conversations on ways in which libraries could assist in tackling these key issues.

Some of the concerns facing these external organizations were unique, such as the SCUP (Society for College & University Planning) need for evidence that designing  “informal” learning spaces can relate to improving the student academic experience or the development of self-directed learning.  On the other hand, scholarly publishing and open access are concerns shared among a number of liaison target organizations, as is data management and curation.

We began our work on talking points with the goal of creating a unique document for each liaison and target organization.  As we advanced with the process, we realized that a document that included sections on all of the identified major issues would allow liaisons to pull the resources that were helpful for their particular needs, and it would be much easier to keep up date.

We met with liaisons at both the midwinter and annual conferences in 2013 and 2014, and sought their feedback on our basic outlines. The liaisons were immensely helpful in explaining what worked for them and what did not, and they provided additional resources that we had not considered. Juliann Couture, Interdisciplinary Social Science Librarian at the University of Colorado and liaison to the American Anthropological Association, provided most of the content on data management.

Our discussions with the liaisons led us to a new understanding of the challenges our liaisons face in working with this diverse group of external organizations as well as the successes they have had in promoting library value within their target groups. In an effort to publicize this work to the larger ACRL community, we began asking specific liaisons to write VAL blog posts about their efforts. We hope you have enjoyed reading these posts by Juilann Couture, University of Colorado, Boulder, on her work with the American Anthropological association, Danuta Nitecki, Drexel University, on her work with the Society for College and University Planning, Allison Ricker, Oberlin College,  on her work with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Mandy Swygart-Hobaugh, Georgia State University, on her work with American Sociological Association.

The liaison talking points document now includes sections on basic resources, scholarly publishing and open access, data management and curation, information literacy, which includes a sample letter introducing the new Information Literacy Framework to liaison target groups, library space planning and design, and altmetrics.  The document is available in ALA Connect at http://connect.ala.org/node/152263

We encourage comments and suggestions from ACRL Liaisons and the entire ACRL community. Please send comments to either Debbie Malone at Debbie.malone@desales.edu or Terry Taylor at TTAYLOR@depaul.edu.

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