Two weeks ago, I attended the annual Association of College and Research Libraries, New England Chapter meeting at the College of Holy Cross in Worcester. I was fortunate enough to co-present with my fabulous colleague, Rachel Beckwith. Together, we shared some of our outreach strategies and experience in a talk entitled: “Hey, Great to Run into You! Embedded Librarians Forging Partnerships Across Campus.” We divided up our time between our presentation and a facilitated conversation with the librarians in the room, a model for conference presentations I really prefer over the standard talk followed by question and answers. The talk can be captured in six points which represents our spectrum of embedded librarianship ranging from causal encounters to formalized curricular realtionships:
- Informal Encounters: the fine line between outreach and stalking
- New Presentism: inserting yourself at a moment of transition
- High Threshold teaching: a semester with Omeka
- Consortial Change Agents: 5 College Mellon Digital Humanties Grant
- Reciprocity: Amazon Wish Lists, collaborating with faculty to create LibGuides
- Partners in Retention: Pouncing on fresh blood in Student Affairs.
Outreach is a key piece of my work that I invest time and energy investigating in my research and writing. I truly believe that the most effective librarians do not wait for students to show up to the reference desk or the office, but librarians who actively seek out their students, faculty, and other constituents. In addition to bringing visibility to the library on campus, it’s more fun for the librarian too. I’ve really enjoyed my serendipitous conversations and reference interviews with students and faculty at Northampton Cafes, campus events, and on the Five College Bus System. It’s organic, and reinforces how seamlessly we exist in the campus community. That presence makes it possible for our academic stakeholders to trust us with more challenging endeavors like partnering to retain students and high threshold teaching and learning experiences. Above all, it is so satisfying to have a student smile back you and say, ‘wow, it’s great that you were here right when I was about to email you to make an appointment! Here you ARE!’