A subject specialist is a staff member who has been designated the formal contact person between the Library and a specific academic unit (school, department, center, program) of the University. The primary role of a subject specialist is to foster communication between the library and the University’s academic programs. The subject specialist 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 subject specialist is expected to be fully knowledgeable about library products and services so as to represent these effectively to the subject specialist’s constituents.
The subject specialist is expected to be well informed about the Library’s collections, services, policies and resources, and skilled in interpreting and promoting these to faculty and students in his or her academic unit. The subject specialist 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. Subject specialists 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.
The Subject Specialists Program was preceded by the Library Liaison Program, established in 1989 to initiate an ongoing dialog between the University Library 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.