MLA Books Panel seeks author/editor for proposed book

The MLA Books Panel is seeking an author/editor for a monograph that will seek to answer the question: what are the ways in which librarians provide liaison services to their patrons in the modern era.

Librarians have always acted as liaisons, although historically not usually as part of a formal liaison program.  Any contact with the members of our various constituency groups, especially outside of the library environment, could be considered liaison work.  Librarians have always believed that we could provide the best library service only when we knew our clientele really well.  Conducting outreach, collaborating, partnering, or simply fulfilling the duties of a subject specialist all are liaison activities.  So we have always essentially acted as liaisons.  How did this evolve into the formal liaison programs we have today?

Today as we are increasingly shifting our emphasis from library content to library services, the role of library liaison has become more relevant and more varied.
The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) developed Guidelines for Liaison Work in Managing Collections and Services (  These guidelines were first developed in 1992 and most recently reviewed in 2010.  In 2013 the Association for Research Libraries published “New Roles for New Times: Transforming Liaison Roles in Research Libraries (  They said “With increasing pressure on researchers to plan and manage their output, and a growing adoption of open access publishing, research libraries are now compelled to understand and support all processes of instruction and scholarship, which calls for an engagement model. An engaged liaison seeks to enhance scholar productivity, to empower learners, and to participate in the entire lifecycle of the research, teaching, and learning process.”

In this volume we will seek to determine how this is being done in all of the many different kinds of libraries that engage in liaison activities and so this book should be descriptive but also include basic “how to” information that is repeatable in a variety of library environments.  For example, do not just say we need to build relationships, create trust and so on; readers need to know exactly how to do that.  Be as specific as possible.  Examples of failures may also be useful.

Further questions to include might address:

*         What activities are we engaged in as we perform our roles as library liaisons?

*         How is the liaison’s work being altered or influenced by the increased digitization of information?

*         How are liaison activities being changed by library budget cuts, the need to do more with less?

*         How is the role of library liaison affected by decreased traffic in the library?

*         What new roles or activities have librarians developed in response to these changes?

*         How can these activities be organized for maximum effectiveness?

*         Is the embedded librarian the ultimate library liaison?

*         What is the future for library liaisons?

This monograph may be an edited volume with several contributors or a single author effort.  An edited volume would allow for input from librarians from all types of libraries but the editor should ensure that health sciences libraries are well represented.

If you are interested in being the author, the editor or a contributor, or have any questions about this potential project, please contact a member of the Books Panel, or myself: Michel Atlas at

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