York, Amy C., and Jason M. Vance. “Taking Library Instruction into the Online Classroom: Best Practices for Embedded Librarians.” Journal of Library Administration 49.1/2 (2009): 197-209.
Online class numbers continue to proliferate within higher education, with reports pointing to the need for libraries to take note as it translates to fewer students on campuses and in physical libraries.  Already, we see students turn to the web or their friends before they turn to the library website or a librarian for help. The authors use the phrase embedded librarianship to describe “any librarian who takes an active role inside the online CMS classroom” (199), as they outline best practices for librarians to follow to expand services within a CMS using a review of the literature and an online survey.
As classes are developed within a CMS, York and Vance expect that fewer students will explore library websites and instead continue to access web search tools. From hybrid courses to all online classrooms, the authors point to new avenues of instruction for librarians, especially on campuses where online enrollment is expanding and a library’s staff remains the same. Writing that in 2000 the professional literature had little mention of library involvement in online learning environments and none in reviews for individual systems, they point to a number of more recent articles often “bemoaning” the lack of librarian integration or involvement in CMS development.  Those that do are from individual sites, describing the successes, challenges and “dreams” of librarians as they move face-to-face services to the web.
The consistent theme from the literature is the ongoing mantra for librarians — collaboration with faculty and administrators is essential.  Finally, results from York and Vance’s online study provide the following best practices for librarians working to embed in a CMS (202-207):
  1. Know your campus CMS and administrators
  2. Include a library link in the CMS
  3. Go beyond just a link to the library – embed in individual courses.
  4. Don’t overextend – learn about the CMS and provide online learning modules.
  5. Think strategically about courses to focus on, selecting courses that have research assignments.
  6. Actively participate in the class.
  7. Market library services and embedded librarian offerings.
There are many articles offering best practices, with “imperatives for librarians to get on board” (207), yet in perusing the research, I am once again struck by disconnects between the literature in composition/rhetoric and librarianship.  For example, to further explore the topic of “embedded librarianship” in the literature for composition and rhetoric, searching MLA International instead of databases focusing on library literature, with the following search 150+ results are returned – a good base set to review.

((Distance OR online) AND learning) AND (“rhetoric and composition” OR “first year”) 

When AND library*is added, there is 1 result, the PhD dissertation of the Dean of Library Services at Southeastern University, Grace Veach, whose research I have used in previous papers.  

Search for “embedded librarian” in any context in MLAand no results are returned. 

All of these searches return results in library literature. As I noted in other blog posts, I have discovered plenty of room for research exploration and collaborative opportunities!