Liaison Librarian Teams

A Plan for Liaison Librarian Teams: To integrate the Libraries more fully into the academic enterprise at George Mason University, liaison librarian expertise and liaison librarian relationship devel­opment with academic programs, departments, initiatives, and projects are both essential. To this point, liaison librarians have been assigned to work with a number of departments and have developed, in many cases, strong ties with faculty and students—to develop scholarly content for those departments in terms of appropriate collections, to guide faculty and students in the effective use of them, and to create greater awareness of research and scholarly information and library services within the assigned clientele.

More rapid changes in the University, and particularly the move toward a more researchintensive environment, with a greater emphasis on interdisciplinary research projects, suggest that the Librar­ies will need to align its internal liaison expertise with those priorities in order to deepen engagement with these interdisciplinary projects. The increasing numbers of new Ph.D. programs emphasizes this need for greater alignment. Liaison librarians should, in the future, not be “solo agents” working only with their assigned departments, but should capitalize on the expertise of their colleagues in cognate academic programs in a more structured way, in order to advance the Libraries’ goal of integration into academic programs more generally.

This Plan therefore calls for the creation of three Liaison Librarian Teams, comprising a generally equal number of liaison librarians in broad disciplinary groupings: Social Sciences, Arts and Humani­ties, and Sciences and Technology.

Each Liaison Team will be coordinated by a Team Leader, who will be responsible for organizing projects, discussions, reports on team activities, and other work of the Team. Liaison Teams will be responsible for such activities as: analyzing and evaluating the collections in all formats; deepening the collections to appropriate research-level breadth and depth, working with the Head of Collection Development; identifying gaps in niche areas of the collection for retrospective collection development; identifying opportunities for grant-writing associated with research projects (in collaboration with groups of research and/or teaching faculty); conducting studies and collecting data (in coordination with the Assessment and Planning Coordinator, cognizant staff in the Collection Development Office and in the Research, Instruction, and Outreach Services division) to improve research collections and services; identifying opportunities for connecting liaison librarian expertise with interde­partmental/interdisciplinary research; analyzing the curriculum at a programmatic level, in coordination with the Head of Educational Services, to develop wider-scale information literacy program­ming; developing new teaching and learning environments, using sound instructional design principles, working with the Instructional Design Librarian; and promoting liaison librarian expertise and outreach, working with the Chair of the Liaison Librarian Leadership Team.

Liaison Teams will address all aspects of liaison librarians’ work: collection development; reference/research/client services; and instruction. The intent is for Liaison Teams to coalesce as interdisciplin­ary clusters of expertise, with individual liaisons supporting each other and adding another dimension of value, awareness, and communication to the Liaison Program. Liaison Teams will be asked to do the following, operationally: hold monthly meetings, identify action plans for each year, to be vetted by the Liaison Program Leadership Team (Head of Fenwick Reference, Chair; Head of Collection Development; and Preservation; and Head of Educational Services), and the University Librarians’ Council, and report on its projects at the end of each fiscal year.

Team Leaders will be selected on the basis of broad knowledge of the appropriate academic programs and expertise in all of the facets of the liaison role (collections, research/client services, teach­ing, and outreach). Team Leaders will be proactive agents in identifying opportunities for Teams to address interdisciplinary research, teaching and learning, and outreach. Team Leaders will receive a stipend, and will be appointed for two-year terms. The application process for Team Leader roles will be an open one.