Academic librarians play vital and varied roles in the life of the university, guiding students and faculty at the reference desk, instructing library research sessions, and developing library collections. It is a truism to say that librarians in all sectors of an academic library wear many different hats and provide numerous services to patrons (Alsop & Bordonaro, 2007).
Some reasons why an academic librarian with disciplinary expertise could be of help, be it physically or virtually include:
- Search for full text of an article about a particular subject
- Find new coverage of an event from historic times to today
- Help locate content that is subscribed to by the libraries
- Undertake general searches about information and other items
- Look at historical manuscripts, maps, writings, and images or film footage
- Identify legislation, hearing, or other government publications about a subject
- Help with research writing, referencing, resources gathering, publication, and post publication matters
- Train in the use of information resources
- Locate background information about an institution, produce well researched papers and identify useful market research resources, etc., these are some of the roles that academic librarians can play within the institution.
However, from observation and informal social interactions among students and faculty members in any country it has become obvious that many members of the university environment do not appreciate the roles that librarians play in the system. They retain a stereotype notion of librarians and books within the walls of a library and the "HUSH" sign they have become accustomed to. As librarians, it is important we rebrand ourselves; get ourselves etched into the consciousness of these patrons we are meant to serve.
It is important for librarians to learn to use technology, become more proactive by anticipating user needs, attend events within the university, and relate more with faculty members, other staff, and students.
Alsop, J and Bordonaro, K. 2007. Multiple roles of academic librarians. Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship.Http://Southenlibrarianship.icaap.org