Our Embedded Librarian/Faculty Partnership: A Win-Win-Win Relationship
Our faculty-librarian partnership is a “win-win-win” relationship because it has produced important benefits for our students and for us. The most significant are: improved student research papers and presentations; increased information literacy; acquired life-long research skills; and increased job satisfaction for us. Each of us will briefly describe our experiences and we will make recommendations for others who might be considering this pedagogical relationship.
Embedded Librarian/Faculty Partnership from a Faculty Perspective
As Talia Nadir and I have worked together over the past seven years it has became increasingly evident that we have a shared goal of empowering students with life-long information literacy skills. She has become an integral part of each step of my students’ research process in group projects in Rhetorical Criticism and in individual projects in Political Communication and Communication of Race, Class and Gender. The overall quality and quantity of research conducted by my students has increased significantly with Talia as an embedded librarian. This is due primarily to three factors:
- Talia demonstrates the importance of information literacy as it specifically applies to a student’s project as well as to life-long learning.
- Talia expresses great interest and enthusiasm for the students’ projects throughout the semester, which produces a collective joy of researching among my students.
- Students are delighted that Talia is available via Blackboard, email and face-to-face meetings as their research needs arise during the semester.
Talia has developed long-term working relationships with some of my students that transcend courses and semesters. Students who work with her in two or more of my courses view her as someone who significantly contributes to their successful undergraduate experience.
Finally, not only do my students greatly benefit from Talia’s extensive involvement in their learning but I also benefit from this partnership. Teaching can be a lonely endeavor. I enjoy discussing course assignments and research topics with a knowledgeable colleague and I become a better instructor by hearing her perceptions of my students and their research projects. Each time that my classes meet with her I learn about resources that I can share with all of my students and that I can use in my own research. I frequently receive praise from students for making Talia an integral part of my courses.
Based on our successful partnership, I offer the following recommendations:
- Communication prior to and during the semester is essential.
- Clearly articulate the important role of the embedded librarian in successful research projects to students throughout the semester.
- Anticipate resistance from some students, particularly those who believe that they already have a firm grasp on research strategies.
- Maintain consistency between the instructor and the embedded librarian.
- Model what the embedded librarian recommends.
Embedded Librarian/Faculty Partnership from a Librarian’s Perspective
The concept of “embedded librarian” has evolved for us over years of working together. As one, I play an active role in a research and learning process that, in Debra’s courses, extends throughout an entire semester.
My interaction with the students in Debra’s courses takes place both in a class setting, in person, and online (via Blackboard, a library research guide that I develop for each course, email exchanges, etc). Throughout the semester, Debra and I regularly update each other about the status of the students’ research projects so that we can both provide them with consistent feedback. Additionally, I attend students’ final presentations to see how research impacts their presentations. It is this continuous involvement in the development of student research projects that truly makes me “embedded” in these courses.
In an article that was published in a 2008 College & Research Libraries News, a librarian astutely asserted that, “We can learn a great deal about how to more effectively assist students in the information literacy process if we have some experience working with them from the beginning to the end of a project.” My recommendations for a successful partnership between an embedded librarian and a professor from the beginning to the end of a project include:
- Partner with a professor who respects and trusts your abilities as a librarian.
- Prepare to be flexible. A successful embedded librarian must adapt to the variety of professor personalities, course content, and student learning styles.
- Use the close involvement with student research topics as an opportunity to enhance the library’s collection of needed books and journal subscriptions that will better serve the student needs.
- Obtain feedback from students during the semester and afterward. Assessment is a must.
Attend an April Faculty Development workshop on "Using Embedded Librarians to support Student Research."
Learn more about how you might use an embedded librarian to enhance student research projects. Faculty who have attended a Writing across the Curriculum (WAC) seminar might be particularly interested in the EL as support for high-stakes research assignments. In Chris Anson’s handout on “Best Practices: Developing Support for Students' Learning from Assignments,” he advocates step-by-step support for students’ writing. (See UST WAC Blackboard site.)
Registration for this workshop will be sent by email soon.