Through interviews with administrators at five ARL libraries (Duke University, University of Guelph,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, North Carolina State University, and Purdue University), and the
authors’ own extensive experience in research libraries, this report identifies six trends in the development of
new roles for library liaisons, noting that user engagement is a driving factor in identifying which services are,
or should be, offered by research libraries. The overarching framework for all changes is an increasing focus
on what users do (research, teaching, and learning) rather than on what librarians do (collections, reference,
library instruction). The authors also began to question the liaison model as the overarching structure, noting
the limitations to individual expertise. There appears to be a trend toward a hybrid model, where liaisons
pair their expertise with that of functional specialists, both within and outside of libraries. In addition, an
ALA-accredited master’s degree in library science is no longer strictly required. Increasingly, liaisons and
functional specialists present a wide range of educational backgrounds and advanced degrees that offer 5
diverse perspectives and broader skill sets, further challenging the concept of who and what a librarian or
Jaguszewski, Janice; Williams, Karen.
New Roles for New Times: Transforming Liaison Roles in Research Libraries.
Association of Research Libraries.
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