Exploring how embedded librarianship might work in Cambridge was never going to be a simple task – see our previous post for the background on this new Futurelib project. Many definitions of what being embedded means have previously been explored, ranging from supporting teaching through a presence in an online VLE, to intentionally working within a faculty building, rather than behind a circulation desk or in a library office. More recently librarians have been working as members of research groups, whilst for a long time now clinical librarians have been providing information services to physicians at the point of care.

After conducting a literature review we met with librarians from across the University of Cambridge to discuss how we wanted to explore these various definitions, along with what embedded librarianship might mean and how it might work in Cambridge. Some of these professionals were already embedded to an extent as part of their role, others would soon be embarking on embedded roles within their faculty or department, or had previous experience of working in this way.

During discussions leading up to the meeting we had talked about potential outcomes of the project. One of these was the idea of an embedded librarian ‘tool kit’ which would outline characteristics, knowledge, experience and training (among other things) required of an information professional working in an embedded role. As ever with Futurelib workshops we wanted to make things engaging and collaborative, which resulted in…

The Embedded Librarian Tool Kit!

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Populating the tool kit followed an idea generation session where we agreed on what we thought were key character attributes needed in an embedded librarian, along with the most valuable services that an individual working in this role could offer. We then discussed what would be necessary in terms of an embedded librarian marketing and promoting their services, what training may be required, and so on.

Initially it had seemed as though the different contexts in which librarians would be embedded, along with the nature and extent of their embeddedness, would mean that it would be difficult to reach a consensus as to what might be required. Interestingly however there was a strong level of agreement in terms of key character attributes, services that could be offered and essential information skills needed.

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The workshop was both enlightening and encouraging. We left with an increased confidence in what our endeavour could potentially teach us about embedded librarianship at Cambridge, albeit with an awareness that the exact scope and nature of the project will need to take shape slowly over time.

We are very aware that many librarians across the University are already embedded with their users in various ways and feel that an established ‘community of practice’ beyond those present at this meeting would be invaluable in informing the project, as well as embedded librarianship in Cambridge going forward. Further down the line we will want to hear about your experiences. We hope to have a suitable platform in place to facilitate this and to build connections between all library staff conducting this type of work at the University.

David and Andy

Futurelib Programme

http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/futurelib

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