Collaboration with Faculty:What They don't Teach You in Library


Collaboration with Faculty:

What They Don’t Teach You in Library


Sarah Jane Dooley

ASEE/ELD Session 1441

June 15, 2009


Introduction and background


Library School and networking

Workplace challenges and strategies


Future of collaboration



Can be challenging making connections as a new librarian

Establishing productive relationships with faculty

 Needed to succeed in liaison work

 Supports career advancement

Networking and collaboration play in integral role

Library School curriculum did not sufficiently prepare me

Will offer recommendations and approaches


Sexton Library, Dalhousie University

Engineering, Architecture & Planning

Sexton Campus started as its own institution

Approximately 1,900 of 16,000 students in total

Informal, small school/work environment

Library is in close proximity to departments

Librarians at Dalhousie

Librarians are faculty members

Collaboration with teaching faculty

 Crucial to success on the job

 Supports portfolio for promotion/tenure application

Fostering connections is important

Information literacy programs

Collection development

Professional development

About Me

Graduated with MLIS from Dalhousie in 2005

Interned at the Sexton Library 2003-2005

Liaison Librarian, 2005-Present

Subjects: Biological, Chemical, Environmental, Petroleum

Engineering, Food Science

Coordinator Reference & Promotion/Outreach

Photo used under creative commons license:


Librarianship thrives on collaboration

Involves mutually beneficial outcomes for librarians and faculty

Promotion of library resources

Increased library usage

Higher quality research


Collaboration outcomes will lead to:

Success in day-to-day liaison duties

Development of peer-level relationships with faculty

Library School and “Networking”

Curriculum did not include liaison work as topic

Disconnect with idea of networking as it relates to the job

Professional Partnering Program

Formal and informal settings arranged by the school

Networking with other librarians

Centered around the job hunt

Challenges in the Workplace

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Challenges in the Workplace

Unfamiliarity with how to approach faculty

No networking experience outside the library profession

Limited subject and program knowledge

Some programs had unsuccessful attempts at collaboration in the past

“ To be an effective collaborator, you must learn to think of yourself as a networker

(Jeffries, 2000)

Overcoming Challenges and Making Connections

Informal networking experience can be a basis for a more formalized setting

Process of “learning by doing”

Demands enthusiasm for self education

Getting to know faculty and organizational culture

Some guidance from co-workers

“In collaboration endeavours, a librarian has to be the introducer and the

catalyst, as many faculty are not aware

of existing options.”

(Stoddart et al., 2006)

Overcoming Challenges and Making Connections

Be proactive and enthusiastic

Informal approach is more effective on Sexton Campus

Maintain a high level of professionalism

Show genuine interest in students and their success

Initiate collaborative projects

Be persistent and assertive

Strategies for Collaboration

Start by getting to know faculty, students and research interests

Foster two-way communication

Focus on repeat customers

Present yourself as the resource expert and invite faculty to contact you directly

Become their “go-to”

Photo used under creative commons license:

Interpersonal and Communication Strategies

Explore different avenues of communication (i.e. email, in person, etc.)

Gain credibility through liaison opportunities

 Reference and research assistance

Build rapport and create peer-level relationships with faculty

 Attend social events: campus events, banquets, coffee/drinks/lunch

Strategies Continued

Create opportunities to network

Become more visible on and offline

Create lasting partnerships

Creating Opportunities to Network

Develop more in-depth relationships to open doors for instruction opportunities

Assist in program development

Collaborate on library assignments for students

Never turn down an opportunity to guest lecture

Attend faculty meetings

Attend student thesis defense

Attend student conference

Becoming Visible


Put a face to the library

Informal communication

Face-to-face meetings

Attendance at social events and faculty meetings


Send out regular emails

Facebook presence

Libguides promotion

Net “working” It

Photo by Dalhousie University Photographer Nick Pearce

Creating Lasting Partnerships

Take a leadership role

Participate in campus-wide activities

Volunteer for events

Meet future collaborators

Photo by Dalhousie University Photographer Nick Pearce



Formalize a mentoring program

Provide documentation to support liaison work

Create a set of guidelines to help set goals for new librarians

Experienced librarians should set an example

Encourage involvement in other programs (ASEE-ELD, or SLA)


Library School curriculum

Devote more time to topic of liaison work

Networking outside library profession

Teaching faculty

Foster collaboration and maintain connections

Spread the word about a successful connection with liaison

Keep an open mind to collaborative web technologies

Future of Collaboration

Technology presents more innovative ways to collaborate

Involve and educate faculty

Collaborative web technologies


 Widgets in Blackboard Learning System (BLS)

 Why not involve faculty in content creation?


 Groups for courses

Libguides Application

 Library Fan Pages


Learned most on the job

Mentoring program could ease transition for new librarians

Did not realize importance of networking until on the job

Key elements to successful program of collaboration:

 Maintaining your visibility

Creating opportunities

Forging lasting partnerships


Improved faculty-library relationships

Created opportunities to enhance portfolio for next promotion

Exploration into new technologies will continue

Relationships will continue to strengthen and evolve