We are excited to confirm that we will soon be embarking on a new project exploring the fascinating area of embedded librarianship. We will be working with librarians across the University in order to gain a better understanding of some of the key responsibilities, knowledge, tools and personality traits required of an embedded librarian in today’s research and information landscape.

There have been various definitions of embedded librarianship over the years and we hope to explore these in detail, with the aim of finding out what embedded librarianship could mean at Cambridge. Some librarians are embedded in a very physical sense (sitting within research groups for example), while others perform their roles primarily in a virtual way (by offering continuous and expert remote support to researchers, or by being present on a VLE). An area in which librarians are already working in a truly embedded fashion is that of clinical librarianship, where information professionals (sometimes known in this context as ‘informationists’) work side-by-side with clinical practitioners, offering immediate expert searching services and providing information to inform decisions made at the point of care. We hope that what we learn from these varying roles and approaches will be invaluable in helping to better inform how embedded librarians could operate in the University going forward.

As with all Futurelib projects we will be taking a user-centred, ethnographic approach to our research. There will be a focus on observing users and how they interact with their embedded librarian in the wider context of their research lives, including placing significant emphasis on their goals and values.

A number of embedded librarians will be keeping their own research diaries, reflecting on the research behaviours and practices of their ‘users’ (in some senses ‘colleagues’ may be a better word) as well as their experiences of working in this way. The project is set to run from August 2016 to April 2017. Keeping a truly ethnographic mindset means that we would not wish to commit to what the outcomes of the project might be, but we are guaranteed to surface more robust information on what embedded librarianship looks like and what it can hope to achieve.

David and Andy



Header image: York College of PA – ‘Academics’ – https://flic.kr/p/axK6ro