Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Making Connections


I'm still within my first year at this job, so I'm still doing all those new person things you need to do. High on my "new person" list of priorities is getting better connected with the faculty. (Caveat: my drive to connect with all of the faculty is partially a factor of the size of my school. Small school = fewer faculty = manageable for the library director to get to know all of them.) I'm doing everything I can think of to make these connections - asking to attend department meetings, learning about their research interests, participating in campus wide committees, etc. 

There's something else I've been doing lately that you, the newbrarian who is my intended audience, might not think of doing. I do my best to keep keep up with publishing news, and I then share it with my school. I want to make sure that the members of my faculty are informed, leaving them to concentrate on their main mission: research and teaching. How do I keep the faculty up-to-date? It's pretty simple: I sent a couple of emails recently that illustrate the idea.

I sent the first to all faculty and staff, and it included the full text of an email about SUNY's open textbook program, with an introduction:
"Hello all. Please excuse the wholesale forward, but I believe this entire email will be of interest. The cost of textbooks is major barrier for many of our students, and this new effort from SUNY is very promising. If anyone wants assistance accessing this or other open access resources, we in the library are here to help."
The second was more directed, sent solely to the two people on campus who teach chemistry:
"Have you two seen this yet? Apparently ACS has digitized and opened up their pre-1996 archives: http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/newsreleases/2013/october/acs-publications-announces-the-large-scale-digitization.html
Nice development."
Both emails led to good conversations, and the second one actually got me a one-on-one meeting with a full professor of chemistry. I was so excited about the meeting that I even tweeted about it:

I've written about building faculty/community relationships in the past, and I'm sure I'll write about it again in the future. With my background as an instruction librarian -> instruction coordinator -> director, I'm definitely centered on students, so community building and outreach are important to me. However, I know that faculty are my surest path to students, so the professoriate is an equally important part of my community.

How about those of you who work with faculty? I know there are plenty of academic librarians who read LtaYL. Any advice to share with the newbrarian readers?

One last note - those kitties are up there because I still think of academic community outreach, especially faculty outreach, as herding cats (and trust me, I know I'm not the only one to use that analogy). Those kitties look tense, like they could fight or love on each other at the drop of a whisker, but there's a tentative connection. Even the smallest connections can lead to something good.


  1. Thanks for the tip about ACS! The addition of the supporting materials/primary sources sounds great!