Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Reference Services for the After-Five Crowd: Embed a Librarian in Your

From listening to news, most people have become familiar with the term embedded journalist, a news reporter who is attached to a military unit in order to have better access to events on the ground. Using the embedded journalist an analogy, academic librarians have coined the term embedded librarian to describe a librarian who is attached to a particular course in order to provide students with better access to library services and resources.

Having an embedded librarian is particularly important for distance education courses in which students are seldom, if ever, on campus. Since students are not able to attend traditional library instruction sessions or receive help from a librarian on campus, they are generally less aware of available library resources as are their on-campus counterparts and often feel compelled to decipher library and online information sources on their own. The embedded librarian corrects this by providing distance students with a direct connection to the University Libraries.

An embedded librarian can help to guide students through library research, personalize the University Libraries and the research process, instruct students in leaning how to access and search online databases efficiently, advise students in how use interlibrary loan services for materials not accessible online, and create course specific online tutorials and research guides to help students

This summer, I have been embedded as a co-instructor in a distance education course, Nursing 605: Nursing and Computer Technology. As the embedded librarian for this course, I have done the following types of services to help introduce students to the University Libraries’ varied resources:

* Created a screencast, which is a digital recording of computer screen output with voice narration of the University Libraries’ website
* Responded to questions on the class discussion board
* Assisted the class professor in the creation of an assignment related to blogs and the evaluation of web resources

So far, students seem pleased to find that a librarian is so available to them and have responded favorably to my introductory posts on their discussion board in Blackboard. These are a two of their comments:

“It is nice to meet you Kelli and what a wonderful resource to have available to us! I am amazed at the Ball State Library site.”

“I am so impressed with the library support here at BSU. My undergrad program did not offer much support and we were left to figure things out on our own. I was so surprised to talk with you the other night via instant messenger. Thank you in advance for all of your help. I know I will be contacting you for assistance in the future.”

Following the success of this first experience, I am eager to be embedded in additional distance education courses.

If any of my readers are interested in learning more about embedded librarians or the services they can provide, please e-mail Kelli Keclik at


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