Embedded Librarianship (or Alternative Models)

Doris Helfer, CSUN, Facilitator
Sara Tompson, JPL, Note-taker

Paige Mann Univ Redlands
Phoebe Ayers, UC Davis
Kristin Buxton, Caltech
Dave Schmitt, UC San Diego


  • Embedding – Sara had short bibliography
  • Funding outside library – can a matrixed model that is used in aerospace, labs, work for libraries
  • Funding/partnerships outside org – for example with Internet Archive, Wikipedia
  • Alternative funding for bibliographic resources, especially in disciplines not big in curriculum
  • Flat staff budgets – how to maximize staff potential
  • Also flat resource funding – how to best utilize
  • How to more efficiently use dwindling staff, and in partnership with other depts
  • “Learn to live with one time monies” – a Provost’s advice!

Cost sharing w depts on databases has been a solution for some.

Consortial deals/the Big Deal dwindling for some, not all.

Cancellations sometimes reveal non-usages and or faculty going through their friends and colleagues at other universities!

#canhaspdf one avenue to “black market” of article sharing!

Some universities charge for ILL- helps drive black market

SF and SJ public libs said to have great science resources. LAPL not bad either, especially for patents.

Library funding sources – different overhead models.

It would be lovely to get in at the beginning of a grant proposal – for acquisitions, support, etc.

How to justify the library’s existence. A fundamental question.
Articulate first principals.
Ideas: outreach to deans, provosts on research, also faculty;
pay attention, understand your users. Find their sweet spots.
For example one Provost in to all things digital.
Build a local repository.  Theses and more.
Cal State’s quality fees – students vote on deployment, library gets a fair amount of votes and $!  For example at CSUN paying for a makerspace.
Be proactive and pitch tiered budgets 3 levels – best case scenario and down. May at least get middle level.
Sell the library!  Elevator speeches. Hold out carrots of cool collections you could get if…
Take a special libraries approach.
Some danger in the resource sell – depts may get own price deals and/or publishers may sell directly to a dept.
Students funding various services by various mechanisms – they have ownership.

How to deploy student workers:

  • Invest in training UG students to do good initial point of service on reference. Works some at CS San Marcos and at Mt Holyoke. But/and could exacerbate the students NOT appropriately referring to librarian.
  • Some have heard of using students to do outreach especially to their major depts. was a webinar on this.
  • Student library advisory committees can work for input on staffing , and funding sources, projects
  • Library advisory committees sometimes have student members
  • Always a constancy- student training
  • Hope they will work at the library for more than one year, but fairly often not the case
  • Students ditching library for better paying jobs rather endemic
  • CS students can be helpful IF they do great documentation
    • One school ended up hiring a CS student as staff
    • One school effectively hired students to initially set up LibGuides
  • Idea to query student workers on how they’d like “library living” to be – get their input and buy in.
  • One school tried, but UG and grad students had WAY different ideas on a student space. So standoff.


  • One school has post docs on grants matrixed a bit to library and housed in library – some working on library projects
  • One source CLIR grants esp data or scholarly communication
  • Can exploit discipline experts to outreach to faculty in their disciplines.
  • One institution hired a PhD who does not have a library degree
  • Many institutions tasked with and/or trying to get more grants
  • Amazon.com has a mechanical Turk on which you can buy time!  Online work distribution system for easily-automatable tasks

How about crowd sourcing funding?
Might be done at the TRAIL tech rept server
Was discussed recently at Internet Librarian – some public libraries are doing successfully with indie gogo and/or kick starter

Embedding oneself in a class can effectively build relationships and increase a librarian’s subject knowledge

Roving with laptops?
Less popular now?
Some have done user testing by taking laptop to coffee spots- mixed results.
Takes salesperson personality.
Point of need focus does have merit, all seemed to agree.
Takes work to get the roving to work.
Getting invited to departmental social events effective and rewarding. Depends on personality of dept though.

Caltech joke – the extroverts are the ones who look at YOUR shoes when they are talking to you!

– Funding models – grants, quality fees, co-partnering, being assertive and grabbing what can work
– Student workers, especially undergrads, pros and cons
– Other staffing options like post docs
– all got some ideas from each other!