Workshop: Communicating the Library’s Value in Academia

The librarians had a half-day workshop where the activities focused on how we can communicate the value of librarians and the library to the rest of the university.

Institutional Focus Areas

We were given a list of focus areas specific to our institution. Each group chose the top 5 that the library contributes to and list relevant examples/activites. I’ve only listed the ones that were identified by at least one group as being part of their top 5.

  1. Student Recruitment, Enrollment, Learning
    A. Student Retention, Completion, Graduation
    D. Student Learning Outcomes
    E. Student Experience, Engagement
    G. Alumni Lifelong Learning
    H. E-learning and Distance Education

  2. Faculty
    B. Faculty Teaching
    D. Faculty research Productivity

  3. Institution and Community
    A. Institution prestige and Reputation
    D. Institutional Accreditation, Program Review
    J. Local, Global Engagement

accessibility 1D, 1E, 2B

accreditation 3A, 3D

collections 1D, 1G, 2B

  • 1E, 2D, 3A special collections, archives
  • 2D, 3A digital collections
  • 1H e-resources

collaboration and liaison with faculty and staff 1D, 3A

  • 1E architecture app
  • 2B curriculum development
  • 3D accreditation review


  • 1D Success and retention, teaching and learning, academic standards
  • 1E student advisory
  • 2B Teaching chairs, Teaching and learning, academic standards
  • 3A academic standards, student success, student committee, OCLC, IFLA, other external

copyright 1H, 2B

digital reproductions 1G, 2B, 2D

engagement (local, global) 3J

  • for all people
  • access to broad perspectives, avoid censorship
  • instill lifelong learning

events (representation at) e.g. university fair 1E


  • 1A, 1D accessibility lab
  • 1A, 1D, 1G labs
  • 1A, 1D, 2B space
  • 1A, 1D, 2D geospatial data centre
  • 3A SLC

ILL 1D, 2B, 2D

information and other types of literacy 1D, 1G, 2B, 2D, 3A

  • critical thinking
  • leveraging information tools
  • problem solving
  • research process and skills
  • intellectual expansion

librarian research 1D, 2B

  • 3A presentations and publications

reference 1A, 1D, 1G, 2D, 3A (quality), 3D

reserves 1D, 2B

student employment 1E

teaching 1D, 1G, 2B, 3A

  • 1A, 1D, 1G student workshops in and out of classes
  • 2B, 2D faculty individual teaching and group workshops

technology 1A, 1D, 1G, 1H, 2B, 2D, 3A

  • equipment
  • 1A resource access e.g. Summon
  • research tools
  • laptops and labs
  • specialized programs
  • 1A blackboard integration
  • 1H sign on integration
  • 1H mobile

Responding to Situations

During the second half of our workshop, we were given specific situations and questions that we had to address. We also had to discuss who (else) should hear the message (our conclusion was everyone) and how we might communicate our message.

How is Library remaining relevant in age of online information and effective search engines?

  • provide access to resources not available for public
  • unique collections i.e. special collections, archives
  • more effective search engines
  • lifelong learning e.g. Research skills, critical thinking
  • empowering faculty and students with information literacy
  • filling gaps to help students transition into contributing members of society
  • leading the way in research skills and information literacy

Students Unaware of What the Library Does

  • first, acknowledge their comment
  • inform of existing efforts
  • solicit involvement
  • suggest a starting point, what they think is most important

What Do Librarians Do Anyway?

  • using memes, but doing it regularly
  • other popular culture references?
  • ‘what don’t we do?’ – variety of roles
  • role external e.g. OCUL, Scholars Portal
  • contribution to what’s important to them e.g. Tenure process, citation measurement, resources that they use and the involvement in making it possible
  • MLS equivalent to MBA
  • role compared to regular corportation e.g. Chief librarian = CEO of mid-sized company
  • fundraising
  • collaboration with faculty

What’s Going on in the Library? In 30 seconds

  • acquired content for new graduate programs
  • digital tools to support e-learning

Approaches to Communicate

  • Newspapers (by email)
  • press releases
  • blog / website
  • committees
  • social media e.g. twitter
  • library and university publications
  • student associations
  • student employees
  • chairs, deans, faculty
  • departmental meetings
  • subject liaison librarians
  • feedback e.g. Surveys, usability testing
  • larger campaign to educate community e.g. subway ads

Author: Cynthia

Technologist, Librarian, Metadata and Technical Services expert, Educator, Mentor, Web Developer, UXer, Accessibility Advocate, Documentarian

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