Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Scholar-Librarian collaboration: a review of THATCamp Southeast

A review by Miriam Posner's blog of the March 4-6, 2011 THATCamp Southeast held at Emory University.  This THATCamp focused on librarian-scholar collaboration.  My three favorite ideas from the post:

1.  "We get paid to be interrupted!"

"The academics in the room started out by saying that they weren’t sure when it was appropriate to ask for assistance from a librarian. At what point, they wondered, are we impinging on the librarian’s time? Librarians responded that it sounded as though they needed to give out better information about the specific services librarians offer, like research interviews. In general, they said, they welcome any kind of consultation. “We get paid to be interrupted!” one librarian said."

My additional comment would be that we librarians are there to save the scholar's time.  Our time--up to a certain point--is theirs.

2.  Professional expectations inform our behavior

"It emerged that both librarians and scholars are subject to professional pressures that inform their expectations of each other. Scholars were surprised to hear that it’s professionally important for librarians to claim research interviews. “You like that?” one faculty member asked. “I always thought I was bothering you!” Scholars were also surprised to hear what a great professional boon it would be for librarians to be credited as collaborators. “I had no idea about the professional expectations for librarians,” a faculty member said. Librarians told scholars how much they’d appreciate professional recognition like inclusion on a dissertation committee."

Some of my faculty and graduate students understand this with the result being that I have been credited in their monographs and dissertations. 

3.  Non-judgmental mentors for grad students

"Ted Friedman asked librarians whether they go to the professional conferences for their subject areas, like MLA. Jason Puckett estimated that perhaps one-third of librarians do. The grad students in particular mentioned how useful it would be to consult with a subject-area expert who is not a professor, and therefore wouldn’t judge him or her for a lack of knowledge. We talked about the possibility of librarians offering frank, nonjudgmental advice to grad students — say, the top 100 books you need to be able to say you’ve read in your field. Grad students were enthusiastic about this kind of role."

I am the subject librarian for five disciplines; art, philosophy, English, drama, and modern languages so attending conferences would be a stretch in time and money. I have a graduate degree in philosophy so that would be the natural choice but I wonder if that would be shortchanging the other disciplines.  I do have students coming to ask me questions of a library nature and not about an intellectual problem within their discipline.

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