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Adding value to the career college library

November 21, 2011

How does a library add value?  It seems that is a question getting asked a lot right now.  ROI is starting to really get talked about in library circles and the for-profit college library is no different.  Or at least it shouldn’t be.  I think that I have more of an obligation than most to prove my library’s worth and recently my thoughts on how to get this done have been changing.  With the changes in our profession it seems natural to question what your library might be bringing to the community you serve.  Right out of library school, just as I was beginning the position here, I thought the library was there to add exploitive value to my patrons.  I would impart my knowledge into the masses and they would have a deeper understanding of liberal arts education.  I would help them ponder and think and explore.  Lord how naive.  Funny how time and experience can change a perspective.  While I will certainly talk theory to anyone who wants to listen, that kind of service has no practical value in this type of educational environment.  And I’m starting to think that it’s ok.  Instead I’m beginning to think that at least part of our value needs to come in the form of trainer or teacher. 

Two titles that I’ve seen bounce around recently are that of the “embedded librarian” and the “educational/instructional technologist“.  I’m playing with both ideas now and wondering how to employ them at my own library.  Here are some random thoughts about both.

1. Embedded librarianship:

My view of this new librarianship in my own institution involves a hybrid component.  While at NCLA 2011 this year I heard from several librarians doing variations of this and think the hybrid model would work best for us.  Basically I would get a small little section of “real estate” on the classes LMS page.  That space would link to perhaps a LibGuide or other digital platform where I could perform research assistance for the class.  That kind of exposure would increase library usage and certainly result in better work for research.  While we don’t do a ton of research here it does need to get done in some form and increasing the number of students that sought library opinion of research before turning it in for a grade well, let’s just say the citation would be closer to correct.  🙂  My experience has been once someone figures out exactly what a librarian can do for them they wonder what they did without a librarian before.  Sort of like cell phones.   🙂

2. Educational Technologist:

That might be one way to demonstrate value but the other side of the coin is faculty focused.  As more and more resources move into the digital space faculty need help finding, evaluating and employing technology in the classroom.  What better place for the librarian and faculty member begin a relationship.  What a great way to build trust and collaboration.  Think of what gets learned in that kind of space.  I learn more about the subject and the faculty member learns more about technology in the education field.  It’s a win-win.  This can be especially true when many faculty members in career colleges have little to no experience teaching but tons of experience in their profession.

Lots of thoughts in there I haven’t finished teasing out yet but I think the ideas are interesting and compelling.  I’m excited to see how they come together.

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