The blog is dormant.

April 19, 2019 by

The Embedded Librarian blog has been dormant for some time, as you can tell by the date stamp of the last posting. I’m just getting around to confirming that I’ll continue to make existing content available but don’t have any plans to post anything new.

Networking for Librarians

August 29, 2017 by

It seems like every time there’s a discussion of competencies for librarians, somebody brings up networking. That’s understandable, but sometimes the conversation gets superficial, as if the metric for networking was PPM (People Per Minute) — how many people can you speak to / shake hands with / exchange business cards with — in a given time.

Sunday’s New York Times provided a welcome counterpoint in the form of an article by Adam Grant, of the Wharton School. Grant asserts that contacts without content are meaningless. The way to develop productive networking relationships is to bring something to the table: show that you have something interesting and worthwhile to contribute. As Grant says, “Networking alone leads to empty transactions, not rich relationships” and “Do something interesting, and instead of having to push your way in, you’ll be pulled in. The network comes to you.”

These are important career development insights for any librarian, but they’re especially critical for embedded librarians. When we talk about successful embedded librarianship, many of us (including me) put a strong emphasis on building relationships, and rightly so. But the key insight is that those relationships don’t take hold on the basis of superficial glad-handing. They take hold as everybody contributes to the attainment of common goals. Perhaps the starting point of successful networking and relationship-building is the belief that you have something to offer.

(Grant, Adam. (2017, Aug. 27) “Networking is Overrated.” The New York Times.)

Upcoming Webinar on Embedded Librarianship

July 28, 2017 by

Join the Special Libraries Association’s Embedded Librarians Caucus for a webinar, “Getting in on the Conversation: Implementing and Leveraging Embedded Librarianship”, August 29, noon – 1 p.m. US Eastern time.

This panel session will be a discussion between session participants and three embedded librarians, who will present three distinct models of embedded librarianship, representing a broad spectrum of disciplines, audiences, and goals. Participants will learn strategies for implementing embedded librarianship to engage different campus communities and leveraging it to demonstrate their value by contributing to the overall goals at their institution.

Panelists will share their strategies for leveraging embedded librarianship, including:

“don’t wait for the invitation: crash the party””
“forget the elevator speech: focus on troubleshooting”
“proactively engage your audience: flaunt your expertise”

Each panelist will briefly discuss their experience with leveraging embedded librarianship to contribute to the overall goals of their institution:

In a Behavioral Sciences program, proactively working with faculty on issues with undergraduate research and critical thinking skills (or lack thereof) and becoming part of the solution by partnering with faculty on educational projects and a credit course integrated into their courses and curriculum
In a Business program, collaborating directly with graduate students as a member of their action based learning teams, contributing as research experts to solve real-world challenges
In a Health Sciences/Medical program, proactively interacting with faculty in order to partner in research analysis including successfully receiving grant funding to support existing grant funded projects or providing analysis on research projects such as bibliometric investigation.

You must register in advance to attend. To sign up, go to:

After registering, you’ll receive a confirmation email with details on how to join the webinar.

Another Issue Librarians Can Get Behind: Net Neutrality

June 30, 2017 by

As we head into summer here in Washington DC, it seems like there’s a protest of some sort weekly or even daily. One issue that’s coming up soon and of particular relevance to librarians — embedded and otherwise — is Net Neutrality. There’s a virtual protest scheduled for July 12 — see for more. According to the site, both the American Library Association and the American Association of Law Libraries have signed on as supporters.

Check it out.


(Embedded) Librarians Marching (and Working) for Science

April 28, 2017 by

Last Saturday, here in Washington DC and in other cities around the world, we had the March for Science. As one who marched, I was glad to see that the American Library Association supported it, along with many other organizations dedicated to the pursuit of truth and wisdom.

You’d think if there’s one issue all librarians could get behind, this would be it. For embedded librarians, many of whom are embedded in scholarly and scientific communities, this is especially appropriate. We are at a moment when the very existence of scholarly and scientific inquiry, as well as the application of the resulting knowledge for the benefit of society, is under attack by the advocates of a “post-truth”, “alternative facts” mindset. There are attempts to de-fund and cast aside the scientific work of our colleagues, and our own work in promoting the effective dissemination and use of their knowledge.

So if you also marched last week, great! And if you didn’t, it’s not too late to get involved. Activities to defend and promote scholarly and scientific inquiry are ongoing. Visit the March for Science website ( for more. As embedded librarians, it makes sense for us to get embedded in this.

Competencies at the Library 2.017 Conference

March 27, 2017 by

I’ll be presenting a short description of the Special Libraries Association’s statement on professional competencies for librarians and information professionals at the Library 2.017 web conference this Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. (US Eastern time) It’s a free conference and all are welcome. See for details and to register.

Library 2.017 Banner

A Conference Devoted to Embedded Librarianship

January 15, 2017 by

I learned last week that IATUL — The International Association of University Libraries has chosen the theme “Embedding Libraries – Service and Development in Context” for its 38th annual conference this June. I don’t recall seeing a major professional association devoting its conference to the theme of embedded librarianship before, so this may be a first!

Details are at . It looks like a great program and a great location.


August 5, 2016 by

I’d argue there’s a significant element of management in the work of any strongly embedded librarian. Thus, I think it’s appropriate to call your attention to a column by Patricia Katopol in the latest issue of Library Leadership & Management, the online journal of the Library Leadership & Management Association (LLAMA). I think it contains a lot of wisdom, and I wonder if the same barriers that Katopol says inhibit librarians from pursuing management roles also inhibit some from pursuing strong embedded relationships.


Oh — the article is at .


June 29, 2016 by

A quick search indicates that it’s been several years since I’ve mentioned Trust in this blog, and that the past mentions have been rather oblique. That’s an omission I shall now proceed to rectify!

Building trusted relationships is central to embedded librarianship. The word trust is an excellent way to characterize the way that embedded librarians interact with other team members. So what is trust, and how do you go about establishing it?

A paper from the recent Special Libraries Association conference does a great job of introducing the concept and providing some guidelines. The paper is “Trusted Librarian: Service Model Offers Best Practices for New Subject Librarians”, by Tina P. Franks, of The Ohio State University. It’s available currently from OSU’s “Knowledge Bank” institutional repository, url = . Apparently it’s slated for future publication in Practical Academic Librarianship, the journal of the SLA Academic Division.

While it’s not specifically about embedded librarianship, practically everything in the article is directly relevant. In fact, I’d venture to say that any librarian who follows Franks’ principles will end up embedded. She highlights the interplay of librarians’ professional expertise and relationship-building skills, pointing out that “you need to earn trust before users will value your subject expertise”, and emphasizes the difference between the transactional nature of traditional library reference service and the relationship orientation required to build trust (and be an embedded librarian).

If you’re looking for some ideas to kick your relationship-building skills to the next level, or just a refresher on the nature of trust, this may be just the resource for you.

A Book I Like

June 17, 2016 by

I’ve been teaching a course on human information behavior once a year for 6 or 7 years now. (The actual title of the course is “Use and Users of Libraries and Information”, but it’s really about human information behavior.)

In all that time, I’ve used a couple different texts with the course, and recently I haven’t used any text book at all.

That’s about to change. I’ve found a book that does a really good job of surveying what information science has learned about information behavior. It’s Introduction to Information Behaviour, by Nigel Ford (Facet Publishing, 2015). It’s a well organized synthesis of a great deal of theory and research.

I recognize this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s academic and can get rather dry in spots. But I think it’s relevant to embedded librarians because we have to be astute observers of information behavior and the role of information in the functioning of organizations and groups. A knowledge of the theory and research can inform our reflections and understanding of what goes on in our workplaces, and help us become more effective.

So, if you’re willing to invest a few hours in a fairly detailed introduction to the study of information behavior, you may want to check this out.