Librarians organize themselves by department

New liaison program will bolster faculty-librarian relationship and help students find what they need

Jessica Klymchuk, News Editor Ω

The library liaison program organizes librarians by department to foster better communication between them and faculty and students. It also means librarians can be proactive about developing resources and collections. Jessica Klymchuk/The Omega

The library liaison program organizes librarians by department to foster better communication between them and faculty and students. It also means librarians can be proactive about developing resources and collections. Jessica Klymchuk/The Omega

Students will no longer need to guess where to go with questions about access to resources for their assignments or research.

TRU has implemented a new liaison program to encourage better communication between the library and the academic departments. The six full-time librarians now have designated faculties they cater to.

“The idea behind the liaison program was to focus the work of the librarians out toward the campus community,” university librarian Brenda Mathenia said. “They were looking for a way to more clearly articulate what they can do for the community, and for a way to make it easier for the community to know who to talk to.”

The library hasn’t hired any new librarians, but Mathenia said it has allowed the current librarians to focus their energy and not worry about all areas simultaneously.

Larger universities such as UBC and SFU have a library liaison program and sometimes even subject specialists.

“In general we are not prepared to be subject specialists,” Mathenia said, adding that it was the librarians who decided which of them was best-suited to each area, and that it isn’t unusual for programs to start out that way.

It was decided that the librarians would be assigned based on their undergraduate degrees.

Kathy Gaynor, who was the interim university librarian for 19 months before Mathenia started in August, said the librarians started brainstorming over a year ago about the kind of liaison work they could do given the number of staff.

In the past couple of years, Elizabeth Rennie, who does the majority of library instruction, has worked closely with the nursing department. Nursing has integrated library instruction into the curriculum at every level.

“The faculty there were noticing huge improvements in the quality of the research papers that the nursing students were doing, and the kinds of resources they were using,” Gaynor said.

That success fostered an interest in developing the same kind of two-way communication with other departments on campus.

“We certainly don’t have enough librarians to be that embedded in the curriculums across the university,” Gaynor said.

A benefit of the new organization is that librarians will be more involved with program development, allowing them to be more proactive about integrating new resources.

The first step will be for the librarians to attend department meetings and teach faculty about the program.

“We know that if we connect with faculty members they will connect us with students,” Mathenia said.

A list of the departments and the associated liaison can be found on the library website.