Embedded Librarianship: It’s Everywhere!

It may just be my own peculiar perspective, but it sure seems like embedded librarianship is everywhere these days! This has been going on since the spring and now well into the summer. Here’s what’s unfolded so far:

  • In March, Library Journal offered a webinar on the opportunities for public librarians to form partnerships with other organizations to achieve positive community outcomes – building on a series of articles they’ve run on the same topic.
  • In April, the Texas Library Association conference featured posters from academic and school librarians on embedding in the instructional mission of the institution, including one from the University of Houston libraries on a partnership with the Athletic Department to provide information literacy instruction and counseling to student athletes, and another from a middle school librarian who is deeply engaged in collaborating with classroom teachers.
  • In May, the Medical Library Association continued its longstanding commitment to embedded librarianship with a meeting of its Informationist Special Interest Group.
  • In June, the OCLC Research Forum meeting in Philadelphia featured a lively panel and discussion on opportunities for embedded academic librarians to contribute to the research mission of their universities.
  • In July, the Special Libraries Association and the American Association of Law Libraries have back-to-back programs in consecutive weeks on the topic.

I’m hoping that my book, The Embedded Librarian, will help everyone interested in this growing phenomenon, and serve as a resource for librarians of all types to develop and sustain it in their own settings. The most important thing about embedded librarianship, of course, is that it unlocks the potential of librarians to contribute more fully to the mission of their organizations. But another point is important, too. The breadth of embedded initiatives – in diverse public, school, academic, and specialized libraries – highlights the fundamental unifying principles of librarianship, which we too often have lost sight of, in our focus on working within our own institutions. I think we will all be stronger if we can emphasize the fundamental professional characteristics we hold in common.


About Dave Shumaker

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 (SLA) Research Grant for their project, Models of Embedded Librarianship. Project documentation 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.