Archive | Embedded Librarianship

SLA Embedded Librarians Caucus Annual Meeting (Webinar): Register Now!

All members and friends of the SLA Embedded Librarians Caucus are invited to participate in our annual meeting webinar on Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at 12:00 PM EDT.  We’ll review the past year and plan for the coming one.

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

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

Email David Shumaker ( or Nadine Anderson ( if you have any questions or suggestions for specific meeting agenda items.

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Join Us for Embedded Librarianship Day at the SLA 2017 Conference!

Are you going to this year’s SLA Conference? Join the SLA Embedded Librarians Caucus for our Embedded Librarianship Day on Sunday, June 18th at the SLA 2017 Conference. First up in the afternoon will be our Knowledge Cafe, round table discussions about embedded librarianship topics, issues, and experiences. Let us know if you have any suggestions for topics of discussion. We will continue the discussion over dinner in the evening. This is a free event, but ticketed, so make sure you sign up for it ahead of time. Here are instructions on how to sign up for ticketed events at the SLA 2017 Conference.

Email David Shumaker ( or Nadine Anderson ( with your questions and suggestions for topics of discussion. We look forward to seeing you in Phoenix!

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Get to Know…Elizabeth Kavanaugh and her Embedded Librarianship Study at Misericordia University

Elizabeth Kavanaugh: Embedding the Frames of Evidence-Based Practice – Intersections in Librarianship

Poster Presentation at WILU 2016

One of the popular poster presentations at the Workshop for Information Literacy Use (WILU) 2016 was presented by Elizabeth Kavanaugh from Misericordia University Library. It describes the embedded librarianship initiatives at Misericordia University Library, their methods for assessing these initiatives, as well as their results, conclusions, and recommendations. Embedded librarianship at this library combines the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, a campus-wide assessment strategy, and librarian/faculty/student preferences to make library instruction more meaningful across campus and across disciplines. Positive findings reflected the flexibility embedded librarianship gave librarians in working with faculty and students, and in the breadth of options that could be tailored to a specific department’s needs, course expectations, and student preferences.

Get to Know…Elizabeth Kavanaugh, and more about this study

Q.1. What is your job title? 

Elizabeth: I’m the Information Literacy and Assessment Librarian, with liaison duties to the College of Health Sciences here at Misericordia University.

Q.2. Where do you work and how long have you worked there?

Elizabeth: I work at the Mary Kintz Bevino Library, Misericordia University, in Dallas, Pennsylvania.

Q.3. What are your main job duties and how are you embedded?

Elizabeth: My primary responsibilities are to provide reference, instruction, and library services that reflect the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, at the reference desk and in the classroom with CHS faculty, staff, and students.  I think making the connection back to our library’s mission of “welcoming all in the tradition of Mercy and guide those who gather information, raise inquiry, and embrace discovery” also connects us to the bigger picture of helping to develop well-rounded, critically-thinking students.  Embedded librarianship helps us meet the student where they are in their preferred space and preferred means of communication, too.  Our team of librarians came together to define “embedded librarianship” for our instructional purposes on campus as: “providing information literacy instruction and traditional library services to a targeted audience outside the confines of the library building or reference desk;” for us, this primarily means being added to classes via our CMS, Blackboard, with the role of “Librarian.”  Specific embedded activities may include a/synchronous instruction (including videos), announcements, discussion boards, assignment consultation, research appointments, Reference On the Go (roving), drop in hours (on campus, or online), and reference questions asked in person, email, phone, and/or chat.  (Our definitions and the ilk were added to our Resources for Faculty LibGuide under Instruction & Collection Development/Embedded Librarians,

Q.4. What advice would you give to new embedded librarians?

Elizabeth: Experiment, collaborate, and be flexible!  Whether it’s with other librarians, faculty, departmental meetings, or deans, involve as many people as possible to explore new avenues for instruction.  What works for one course, department, librarian, or student cohort may not work (or work in the same way) for the next embedded experiment, so working closely with what the faculty, students, and department asks for will need to be incorporated each time. Embedded librarianship, by its very nature, will take more time out of the day, but it has been for us, at least, a more holistic and organic instructional experience.

Q.5. Did you find differences in SAILS improvement between departments?

Elizabeth: Yes!  One of the aspects that I want to explore more are the direct connections between traditional instruction, embedded librarianship, library services (overall, workshops, roving, etc.), and SAILS to find the “perfect” combination of activities.  SAILS is one of the tools, and we’re hoping to expand its use by more seniors.  At this point, we have a sampling of senior-level students across ten departments (2014-2015, n=174). Ideally, we’re planning to expand the use of SAILS to all seniors to get a better picture of growth over their time here at Misericordia.  There are definitely outlying factors; students who graduate in a particular major may have received information literacy instruction or an embedded librarian in a different program, during a combination of years, in different subject areas than what comes through in just the outgoing SAILS test, so we’re trying to capture as much information as possible.  We’d like to see improvement over time rather than a discrete number or grade assigned to a particular student; I think it speaks better to instruction to see growth rather than a single number at face value.

Q.6. Did any of these differences correlate with differences between embedded and one-shot instruction?

Elizabeth: Since our pilot year (2014-2015), we’re still working through instructional activities, one-shots, embedded programming, workshops, roving, FYE, self-reflection data, and SAILS evaluations to see where the lines of practice affect change in student learning outcomes.  I started a trend analysis from 2014-2015 versus 2015-2016, and was able to compare data across five departments that continually use one shot, embedded, and SAILS for outgoing seniors: History, Medical Imaging, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, and Healthcare Management (Business department).  Since we’re just in year two, I’m hesitant to say there are trends arising just yet, but one shot instruction decreased in HCM, HIS, MI, and NSG, while embedded instruction decreased slightly in OT (also reflective of lower overall engagement in embedded and one shots, combined).  HCM and MI were also lower in total instructional activities (embedded plus one shots) from 2014-2015 to 2016, while SAILS scores remained the same or increased across all departments except for NSG.

One area that I would like to explore more is students’ self-perception of library instruction.  During the SAILS test for seniors, we ask students to reflect on their time at Misericordia and indicate whether they recall having received library instruction during FYE, freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior years (just a little extra data to see if they even remember seeing us, even if we record that we’ve seen them!).  In 2014-2015, most students indicated seeing a librarian during their senior year, with an overall average of seeing a librarian in the classroom or embedded 2.82 times during their academic career (min=1.71 times HIS, max=4.21 times MI).  However, in 2015-2016, more students indicated seeing a librarian during theirFYE experience, with an overall average of seeing a librarian in the classroom or embedded 3.51 times during their academic career (min=3.03 times HCM, max=3.88 times MI).  Going forward, I’d be interested in seeing if this trend continues in expressing student engagement preferences in the classroom versus embedded, and how those skills translate into an overall assessment of information literacy at different points throughout their careers even if instruction doesn’t come from their intended major per se.  I think this could instead speak more to our overall instruction offerings also outside of the classroom, and I’d be interested in exploring more long term effects of embedded librarianship in and outside of the majors’ context, and with SAILS as a requirement for all seniors regardless of major!

End of interview

Thank you Elizabeth!

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Trust – What is it and how do you build trusted relationships?

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.

David Shumaker

From blog post “Trust” on the Embedded Librarian blog

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Caucus Meeting Minutes

SLA Embedded Librarians Caucus

Annual Meeting May 24, 2016


1. The virtual meeting was opened by caucus convenor Dave Shumaker at 3:01 p.m. US Eastern time, with approximately 20 members in attendance. He announced that the meeting would be recorded in order to help compile minutes, and acknowledged the contributions of the Communications Team over the past year.

2. Year timeline: Dave reviewed highlights of the past year, including programs and activities, gradual growth in membership. Currently, membership stands at 88.

3. Communications update: Communications team members Laura Williams and Nadine Anderson reviewed communications activities. Laura appealed for volunteers to contribute posters, be interviewed for the website, and write up reports from the SLA Annual Conference. Nadine reminded everyone that our Twitter handle is @slaembedded and hashtag #embeddedlib and encouraged followers and tweeters to join in.

4. Finance and Organization: Dave reviewed the fact that the caucus, in line with SLA guidelines, has no money of its own, and doesn’t have any mandated officers other than the Caucus Convenor. He mentioned that we should be thinking about succession planning. He will continue to serve for the coming year, but he doesn’t intend to be Convenor for life.

There was also discussion of whether the caucus should aim to become a division. The consensus was that we should not do that, at least at the present time. In ensuing discussion of membership and growth, Marydee Ojala suggested creating whitepaper on the caucus website explaining what is embedded librarian. In further discussion, it was suggested to have additional papers on embedded librarians in different sectors.

5. SLA 2017 Program Planning: Dave currently serving as de facto program planner. He appealed for anyone who is interested to take over the job or work with him.

6. Program and Activity Initiatives

Current program ideas:

  • Organization/reporting structures that embedded librarians experience and the associated challenges.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of embedded librarianship
  • Prospering over the long haul: lessons learned from veteran embedded librarians

Other ideas were suggested, including:

  • Ruth Kneale’s experiences in close to 20 years of being an embedded librarian in engineering teams, either as webinar or interview
  • Michael Gelman – how embedded librarians can “sell themselves” as consultants
  • Tara Breton: embedded librarian panel held at Pharma Division meeting in April 2016 (, unfortunately slides are not available; discussion of promotional strategies in the corporate sector
  • Teresa Powell: budget and funding models – corporate setting may require funding librarians work from group(s) librarian is embedded with.

6. Wrapup

Anyone with questions, comments, or who would like to volunteer: contact Dave at or his personal email. Reminder of Caucus session Monday June 13 10 a.m. in Phila. Dave closed the meeting at 3:51 p.m. (US Eastern time)

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Caucus Meeting Reminder

A quick reminder that on Tuesday, May 24, 3:00 p.m. EDT, we will have our annual Caucus meeting webinar. Register at:  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Hope to see you there!

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Embedded Librarians Caucus upcoming events

Just a quick reminder of upcoming events of interest:

  1. Tuesday, May 24, 3:00 p.m. US Eastern: Caucus annual meeting webinar. Register at: .  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
  1. Monday, June 13, 10:00—11:30 a.m. Embedded Librarians Knowledge Café at the SLA Annual Conference. Reserve this slot on your conference planner! I look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia.
  1. Also of interest: Tuesday, June 14, 2:30-3:30 p.m. Annual Conference program, “Professional Competencies and You” – just added to the conference program. Embedded librarians perhaps more than any other group need to be able to articulate and demonstrate what they bring  to diverse, cross-cutting teams. Come find out more about the new SLA Competencies and how it can help you frame this issue.


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Embedded Librarian Posters: Nadine Anderson, Behavioral Sciences Librarian

Nadine Anderson: Poster

This poster is for my role as the embedded Behavioral Sciences Librarian at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. My faculty already know me well,  so this is geared towards my students in the Behavioral Sciences; to get my name and face out there as someone who can help them with their research from my office in the Behavioral Sciences department so they know they don’t have to traipse all the way across campus to the library to get research help. I’ve put this poster up in several prominent places around the Behavioral Sciences department: on the door to the Behavioral Sciences office, in their graduate student lounge, and in the Behavioral Sciences computer lab. I’ve received great feedback from my faculty on it, students seem to recognize me a lot more, and I’m getting more “drop ins” for research help at my Behavioral Sciences office. This poster has been a great marketing tool!

Nadine Anderson - 11X17 Poster

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Embedded Librarian Posters: Laura Williams, Reading List & Collection Development Librarian

Laura Williams: Poster and Postcard

In my role as Reading List and Collection Development Librarian at the University of Huddersfield for the Business School, I’ve made use of both a poster and a postcard to promote myself and the help I can provide to academic staff.
I designed this postcard to introduce myself to all the academic staff in the Business School, with the intention of letting them know who I am, and what I can do for them. My office is located in the library rather than the Business School, and I’m new to the university, so the postcard was a good way to get the message out to the 140 plus academics in the school. A postcard was sent to every member of academic staff, in a hand addressed envelope, to separate it out from the marketing post they likely recieve. I’ve had more people recognise me around the building now, and know who I am when we meet for one to one training appointments.

Embedded Librarian Postcard: Laura Williams, Reading List & Collection Development Librarian

To complement the postcard I also created a poster to use when I’m out roving in the school offering drop in support to staff, helping with their reading lists.

Embedded Librarian Poster: Laura Williams, Reading List and Collection Development Librarian

I take the poster out with me, and put it up boards around the building, whenever I am doing any ‘roving’ work in the Business School. By having a poster specifically tailored to my role, rather than the library, I am able to catch people’s attention.

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David Shumaker: “Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch”

Latest post by David Shumaker:

I read this phrase in an article in yesterday’s Washington Post. (See citation below.) The article is about a U.S. company’s expansion into the Russian marketplace. Apparently the company has been very successful despite many challenges in doing business in Russia over the past decade or more. The article ends with the observation that “[c]ompanies bent on expanding abroad must be attuned to the culture of a country and enmeshed in its life to truly succeed. … ‘Culture eats strategy for lunch.'”

You may ask, what in the world does this have to do with embedded librarianship?

Here’s the thing: I still see librarians setting strategy in a vacuum. They get it that the library walls have come down, and that library services now need to reach outside the building, but they develop their plans without really taking into account — and becoming part of — the life and culture of their communities. They approach the community as outsiders from “the library”, rather than building their identity as members of that community. One of the advantages that effective embedded librarianship brings is engagement, so that the librarians really become “enmeshed” in their communities. So, take a fresh look at your strategy. Does it really make your library operation a part of the community you serve? If not, you may want to integrate embedded librarianship into it. Or, culture may eat it for lunch…

Reference: Fairchild, G. (2016, March 13) “Selling in Russia? ‘Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch.'” Washington Post, p. G2.

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