University of Connecticut Libraries
Academic Liaison Program

The Library Liaison Program was established in 1989 to initiate an ongoing dialog between the University Libraries and the academic communities it serves. The program has built strong communication channels between the library and academic departments, provided a framework for extensive collaboration between the library and the faculty, provided a mechanism for incorporating information literacy directly into academic curricula and for managing change in scholarly communication systems. Today, liaison librarians have become integral members of their constituencies and are regularly called upon to take an active role in enhancing academic programs across the system.

This document describes the Academic Liaison Program and the responsibilities of the participants. It is acknowledged at the outset that no two liaison assignments are precisely the same: what is described here are parameters and guidelines. The program is inherently collegial and is dependent upon the support and cooperation of individuals from many areas of the library.

WHAT IS A LIBRARY LIAISON?

A library liaison is a staff member who has been designated the formal contact person between the Libraries and a specific academic unit (school, department, center, program) of the University. The primary role of a liaison is to foster communication between the library and the University's academic programs. The liaison is therefore expected to understand the information needs of his or her unit and to represent those needs in appropriate forums within the library. At the same time, the liaison is expected to be fully knowledgeable about library products and services so as to represent these effectively to the liaison constituents.

Library liaisons serve specific subject needs on their home campus, though at some regional campuses the liaison may serve the entire academic program.

The library liaison is expected to be well informed about the Libraries' collections, services, policies and resources, and skilled in interpreting and promoting these to faculty and students in his or her academic unit. The liaison is also expected to be knowledgeable of the subject matter and nature of the teaching and research conducted by the academic unit, particularly with regard to changes in pedagogy and scholarly communication within the discipline. Liaisons are expected to work together with teaching faculty to ensure that relevant information access skills and tools are incorporated into academic programs at all levels.

WHAT DOES A LIAISON DO?

Liaison assignments include activities in the following areas:

Communication

Regular communication between the liaison and his or her academic unit is the foundation on which the program is built. Liaisons accept responsibility to make themselves known and available to the faculty and students. The ways in which such communication takes place varies and there is no established pattern, but face-to-face, on-site contact outside the library is encouraged. Communication may be through an official departmental contact person or departmental library committee, by visits to individual faculty or scheduled on-site office hours, through printed or electronic communications, by periodic or regular participation in faculty meetings and by attendance at academic symposia or colloquia.

It is equally important that liaisons communicate effectively within the library, sharing information with colleagues informally or in Liaison Council meetings so that library policies, collections, and services are responsive to the interests and needs of the academic community. Liaisons are expected to exercise initiative in the performance of their work, while recognizing that library functions are inter-dependent and need to be coordinated with their colleagues.

Collection Development

Liaisons assume responsibility for a range of collection development activities associated with one or more subject areas. Collection development activities of liaisons, including the degree to which they are performed, are coordinated by the appropriate Collections Services Bibliographer. Liaisons:

  • Develop and maintain a comprehensive knowledge of information resources within a given subject area(s)
  • Monitor receipt of approval plan books and slips on a regular basis
  • Initiate orders for materials not received on approval
  • Select, evaluate, and monitor electronic and web resources, creating appropriate subject pages for the library information server
  • Notify faculty about new library services and materials of potential interest
  • Review gift materials
  • Maintain an awareness of expenditures within the confines of budget allocation
  • Maintain on-going review of print and electronic serial subscriptions and options for alternative access
  • Provide support for accreditation review processes, new academic programs, and grant proposals
  • Evaluate collection strengths and weaknesses
  • Assist in the identification of material for transfer, withdrawal, or conservation treatment
  • Participate in the formulation and writing of collection development policy
  • User Services

    Liaisons perform some or all of the following services :

  • Instruct individual(s), group(s) or classes in the use of information resources
  • Provide research consultations within their areas of expertise
  • Provide traditional and electronic reference service
  • Hold regular office hours and training sessions within the liaison department
  • Introduce faculty, staff and students to current awareness and document delivery services
  • Develop instruction modules for faculty, students and staff
  • Develop guides to information resources and services
  • Collaborate with faculty in developing curricula that promote information literacy
  • Articulate library ownership and access strategies
  • Support local changes in scholarly communication systems
  • Administer communities within the institutional repository
  • Serve on academic committees concerned with library services and information technology
  • Program Evaluation and Development

    Liaisons help to evaluate the program by providing ongoing assessments of their assignment(s). Liaisons help to develop the program by preparing annual action plans for their area(s) of responsibility; serving as mentors for new liaisons; participating on specialized task forces and work groups dedicated to achieving liaison program objectives; and preparing reports that fulfill program needs. Information provided by individual liaisons is used by the Liaison Advisory Team, in conjunction with information provided by the academic departments, to evaluate the program, to assess the need for new or altered assignments, to establish goals for the program, and to prepare annual and other reports.

    STRUCTURE

    Liaison Council

    The Liaison Council is comprised of all library staff holding a formal academic liaison assignment as well as all library staff who provide support for the program. The Council meets at least three times each year. The purpose of these meetings is to discuss matters of general interest or concern relating to the program; to launch new initiatives; to review and discuss program policies and procedures; and to provide a forum for sharing information about the current status of library and liaison activities. These meetings are scheduled for the beginning, middle and end of the academic year and are open to all staff.

    Liaison Advisory Team

    The Liaison Advisory Team is responsible for supporting, developing, and providing leadership for the University Libraries' Liaison Program. Duties of the Liaison Advisory Team include:

  • Recommending liaison appointments for academic departments and centers
  • Mentoring, advising, and training new liaisons
  • Identifying tools and training that will support individual liaisons and groups of liaisons
  • Organizing discussions and workshops on topics of relevance to liaison work
  • Facilitating liaison awareness of and access to relevant statistical data
  • Coordinating the development of liaison subject web pages and collection development plans
  • Marketing and promoting the Liaison Program within the university community
  • Seeking opportunities for new academic partnerships
  • Promoting the integration of information literacy into the curriculum
  • Organizing regular liaison program meetings
  • Evaluating the Liaison Program on a regular basis
  • Team Composition: The Liaison Advisory Team has five membersor more members including:

  • the Area Head for Research & Instruction Services (permanent)
  • A Bibliographer (if not the Principal Bibliographer, the Principal Bibliographer will serve as an ex-officio member of the team)
  • Experienced liaisons, including one regional campus liaison
  • A special collections curator
  • Team members are expected to take an active role in bi-weekly planning meetings; to give generously of their time as advisors to liaison participants; to facilitate the development of liaison skills throughout the library system; to produce liaison working tools; to prepare reports; to promote relevant statistical data; and to foster academic partnerships between liaisons and members of the university community.

    Team Selection : Non-permanent slots are to be filled by qualified individuals, self-nominated from among the pool of experienced liaisons / curators; non-permanent members are to be confirmed by the Libraries' Leadership Council. The composition of the team will be assessed on an annual basis by the Libraries' Leadership Council.

    Team Leader : The Area Head for Research & Instruction Services leads the program and serves as Chair of the Liaison Advisory Team.

    Appointment as a Liaison

    Appointment as liaison to an academic department is a formal, permanent part of a library staff member's assignment. It is expected that liaisons will hold either the MLS degree or a master's degree in a subject or other relevant professional field. Consideration for appointment as a liaison may also be given to candidates who are making significant progress towards the completion of a degree.

    As opportunities for new and / or changed assignments occur, the Liaison Advisory Team reviews liaison appointments and makes new appointments. The Team reviews liaison assignments annually in connection with the evaluation of the program and for the purpose of making any necessary alterations in the program or in assignments. Appointments and changes are made in consultation with the individuals involved and with other appropriate staff, and with the approval of the individual's Area Head and supervisor. New or revised appointments are confirmed in writing with the appropriate academic departments by the Chair of the Liaison Advisory Team. In the case of new appointments, the Chair will arrange for an introductory meeting between the liaison and the academic department head.

    he Liaison Advisory Team makes every attempt to match the academic credentials, experience, and skills of the liaison with the needs of the academic program to which he or she is being appointed. Among the factors considered in making appointments are the following: academic training, work experience in a specific subject area, communication skills, teaching skills, and demonstrated interest in and willingness to learn about a specific academic subject area.

    Support for Liaisons

    The success of the liaison program is dependent upon the support of staff throughout the library organization.

    New liaisons are mentored by one or more experienced liaisons, who provide advice as the new staff member begins his or her work with an academic department.

    The Liaison Advisory Team provides orientation, guidance, information resources, training and working tools.

    Collections Services staff provide collection development assistance, electronic resource management assistance, digital program assistance and support for maintaining information web pages.

    Special Collections staff facilitate access to primary and rare collection resources.

    Information Technology staff provide server support and develop applications that will enhance access to information resources.

    Access Services staff provide assistance with course reserves, interlibrary loan, document delivery, media listening / viewing and circulation.

    Research and Information Services staff support the production of instructional materials, research guides, and promotional materials.

    The Library Administration supports each liaison's effort to enhance their skills and knowledge in the area of their liaison assignment.

    List of Liaison Librarians

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