By David Shumaker, Washington, DC Chapter, Academic, Education, Knowledge Management, Leadership & Management Divisions
Once upon a time, there was a young information services manager named Dave* who heard about embedded librarianship and decided to put it into practice. To begin, he embarked on a campaign to raise information and knowledge services’ visibility at the executive level of the corporation where he was working. He made appointments to go around and brief the executive councils at each of the major operating units of the company. He planned to show them how valuable library services were already, and how the librarians were planning to do even better with embedded librarianship. Starting with a unit led by a senior vice president /general manager he had already worked with, he prepared a briefing all about the value of the librarians’ work, what they were doing and what their plans were. After listening to his presentation, the senior vp turned to him and said, “Dave, what do you need from us?” It was a question he actually wasn’t prepared for. He had thought only in terms of what he and his team had to offer – not about what they needed from senior management.
Fortunately, he recovered, and he and his team went on to implement embedded librarianship and expand their value to the corporation, and everyone lived happily ever after.
Moral: SLA-funded research indicates that senior management engagement is one of the key attributes of successful embedded librarianship initiatives. When you’re preparing your elevator speech or your presentation about your value, also think about what senior management can do to help you be successful. Whether it’s funding, space, support for continuing education, visible communication, assigning mentors to new librarians, constructive feedback – ask for what you need!
*Name not changed to protect the guilty.
For details about embedded librarianship, see the SLA research report at http://www.sla.org/pdfs/EmbeddedLibrarianshipFinalRptRev.pdf , Information Outlook Jan-Feb 2010, or the embedded librarian blog at http://embeddedlibrarian.wordpress.com.
David Shumaker has served as Clinical Associate Professor at the School of Library and Information
Science, Catholic University of America, since August 2006. Dave’s teaching interests include the present and future roles of librarians in society, the management of libraries and information services, marketing, information systems, and library public services. His research and writing explore the changing roles of librarians in organizations of all types. He and his co-investigator, Mary Talley, were awarded the 2007 Special Libraries Association Research Grant for their project, “Models of Embedded Librarianship.” The final report of the project is available on the SLA website, and related articles have been published in Library Journal, Reference & User Services Quarterly, and Information Outlook. Dave is a frequent speaker and panelist on embedded librarianship. Follow his blog at http://embeddedlibrarian.wordpress.com.