Reframing Patrons, Avoiding Irrelevance

As I continue work on the literature review for my master’s project, I happened upon an article that provides a poignant, high-level discussion of the way that librarians approach the services we provide.  Kudos to the author, NYU’s Michael Stoller, for sharing some tough love to his colleagues while providing them with commentary on the article’s explicit subject.

Photo c/o Morguefile (not Michael Stoller)
Photo c/o Morguefile

The following excerpt about maintaining our relevance struck a chord with me:

“…meeting our users’ needs means that the library must assume a new place in the academic community. We worry about being obsolete, about being left out of changing research methodologies. But to succeed, we need to be at the center of our academic communities. We can not stand at the edge, complaining that reference queries and gate counts are down, and we can not complain either, that faculty do not come and ask our advice about scholarly communication or send their graduate students over to the library to learn how to do research. We have to be proactive. We need to push ourselves into the thick of things. Library advisory committees are not just about public relations. They have to be lively, two-way conversations, places where we hear our users and help them know what we can do for them. But committees are only the tip of the iceberg. Librarians need to be there in the department meetings. They need to be seen as colleagues by teaching faculty. There needs to be a one-on-one relationship, because that is the most effective conduit through which information about user needs can pass.”

– Michael Stoller, “Building the library collections: It’s still about the user.”

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