Alchemical Thoughts

Article note: on embedded librarians and service course

Posted on: July 14, 2008

Citation for the article:

Sharpless, Susan and Lynn Sutton. "Embedded Librarians: On the Road in the Deep South." C&RL News February 2008: 71-74, 85.

Read via print (forwarded copy)

This is another small note not quite enough to put on the main blog. The only reason I read this was because one of my colleagues forwarded it. The article basically details how two librarians were embedded into a service course at Wake Forest University. The course included a tour of the Deep South and a service component. I am not sure what my colleague had in mind when she forwarded this given that, due to a significant lack of resources, the kind of embedding described in this article (where at least two librarians would be off campus for a substantial amount of time) would not be feasible. However, there is some stuff to learn and consider from the item.

  • "Roles envisioned for librarians included research assistance for daily assignments, design and maintenance of the course wiki, blog, and Flickr sites, planning and implementation of the service learning component of the trip, and, most importantly, as additional adult chaperones" (71). Some of this is basic stuff that librarians do already such as the research assistance. For the online stuff, there is a bit of troubleshooting as well as content creation involved. They went ahead and got a Pro account on Flickr, which is something I think my library should do at one point or another in order to make photos a bit more accessible.
  • This is what the course instructors actually wanted the librarians to do. Notice that when you look at it, it is quite a bit of work:
    • "provide resource lists to assist students with research guidance on the topics they were assigned to study."
    • "offer a full range of technology support from troubleshooting hotel Internet access to facilitating daily postings onto the course website. . ." [the tech support seemed a bit much, but what I think is librarian comfort level. Because as much as the techie librarians love to portray themselves as technomavens, there are a good number of good librarians who are not necessarily technogeeks]
    • "plan the service component of the trip at the Hancock County Library System" (72).
  • Important to point out that their library is "the primary source for computer training for both faculty and students, and [they] participate in many campus technology initiatives" (73). I am not sure who is the primary source for computer training on our campus, but it is not us. In my former MPOW, there was a Teaching and Learning Center for the faculty to get computer training, but to be honest, they did not have much for the students there. We do not have a whole lot for the students here either aside from a set of online tutorials the university buys from a provider to learn things like how to use a Powerpoint. I am not saying this to be negative on MPOW, but it is a fact of reality that we provide a small computer lab, but no other training (aside from BI, but that is different). Again, even if we wanted to, we would not be able to be "primary source" for computer training.
  • What I liked was that the librarians participated and wrote their own reflections as well as part of the experience.

Anyhow, a nice idea, but it seems a bit of wishful thinking at this stage.

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