Integrating Librarians into Organizations

By Hales, Stuart | Information Outlook, May-June 2012 | Go to article overview

Integrating Librarians into Organizations


Hales, Stuart, Information Outlook


In March 2008, the Special Libraries Association announced that it had awarded a US$ 25,000 research grant to fund a study proposed by David Shumaker, clinical associate professor in the School of Library and Information Science at Catholic University, and Mary Talley, a consultant with Axelroth & Associates in Silver Spring, Maryland. The goal of the proposed study was to develop an evidence-based model for the successful initiation, implementation, and evaluation of embedded library services.

Over the next 18 months, Shumaker and Talley used the grant money to collect data about the practices followed by model embedded programs in initiating, operating, and evaluating their services. They synthesized those data to develop an evidence-based set of recommended practices to be applied to all sectors of the library profession.

The two researchers published a final report on their study in June 2009. In their report, they noted that the concept of information professionals leaving the physical library and integrating with other units and teams was not new:

"As early as the 1970s, medical librarians began to join interdisciplinary health care rounds, along with pharmacists, social workers, and other professionals, to augment the expertise of M.D.'s and deliver improved medical care. (Cimpl 1985) More recently, academic librarians, encouraged in part by the ubiquity of digital information resources and the expansion of distance education programs, have developed new programs to take their instructional services out of the library and into the classroom--whether physical or virtual. These programs have often gone by the name of 'embedded library instruction.' (See, for example, Ferrer-Vinent and Carello 2008) While less prominent in the literature, initiatives to embed librarians and library services have also been reported in research institutes and other organizations."

In this issue of Information Outlook, Shumaker, together with research assistant Alison Makins, summarizes the most recent phase of the project. Their article briefly describes how the work was performed, presents its findings, and offers five "bottom line" recommendations for success. (A more detailed report, Models of Embedded Librarianship Final Report 2011 Addendum, can be found on SLA's Website.)

Also in this issue, Shelly Naylor, senior medical information specialist at Baxter Healthcare, discusses how the tendency of organizations to decentralize their structures during turbulent times (as in the current economic crisis) has helped eliminate barriers to integration and enabled many information professionals to better understand and respond to their clients' information needs.

For additional perspectives on the benefits of integrating librarians into organizations, take a look at the following excerpts from articles about the human resources, information technology and knowledge management fields. …

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