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Subject Librarian Roles and Responsibilities

Subject librarians are affiliated with each academic department or program. The subject librarians provide coordination between the University Libraries and the faculty and students in the University's academic departments. The librarians who serve as subject librarians are members of the academic faculty and play a pivotal role in the selection, acquisition, and maintenance of the resources provided by the University Libraries. To do so they must be able to evaluate information resources in all formats and prioritize user needs. They must also understand the scholarly communication process and the library's role in the information marketplace. The range of their responsibilities is outlined below.

Collection Building

Subject librarians select and initiate orders for materials for the University Libraries collection based on the Collection Development Policy Subject Statements which they maintain and update as necessary. They identify resources in all formats that are appropriate to support existing research and academic programs while maintaining a broad view of the collection and the long-term research needs of the academic community. Consultation and communication with teaching faculty about their present, and future, curricular and research needs are part of this process.

The selection process requires that subject librarians have knowledge of the academic subject areas in the University's curriculum, the ability to evaluate information resources in terms of their usefulness to the University's clientele, and an awareness of what is being published and otherwise available in their assigned subject areas.

Review and Evaluation of Library Resources

Subject librarians oversee and evaluate existing collections. As with selection, this requires that they keep current with the changing needs of their assigned academic units. Subject librarians prepare library support documentation for accreditation, proposed programs, and other evaluative purposes. Collections and resources available both within and outside of the Libraries, regionally or through interlibrary loan, are considered in these assessments.

Subject librarians are also responsible for reviewing collections to identify materials to be sent to storage and those that should be withdrawn from the collection. They regularly evaluate continuations, i.e., standing orders and subscriptions to print and electronic journals and databases, and may recommend titles for cancellation due to fiscal or programmatic reasons.

Subject librarians review lost and stolen titles, as well as damaged and brittle materials, and make recommendations for their replacement or withdrawal from the collection.

Fiscal Management

Subject librarians oversee the portion of the acquisitions budget that relates to their assigned subject areas, managing spending within deadlines and fiscal limits as well as dealing with the requirements of special allocations. This aspect of the subject librarians' responsibilities requires an understanding of both the Libraries' acquisition process and the fiscal issues related to scholarly communication.

Communication and Liaison Responsibilities

Subject librarians make and maintain contacts with faculty of the academic departments or programs for which they are responsible. They work with faculty to understand the goals of their assigned departments and to ensure that the Libraries fulfill the information needs of both the faculty and students in each program. This involves consultation with faculty about adding and/or canceling library resources as well as informing faculty about new services and resources that have been acquired by the Libraries.

Subject librarians are also responsible for keeping the appropriate members of the University Libraries faculty and staff apprised about the issues and concerns that pertain to their assigned departments. In addition, they keep their colleagues up-to-date on new, or changes in, information resources related to their subject areas.

User Education and Instruction

Subject librarians help students learn to use the University Libraries collections and services. They participate in user education at the reference desk, in one-on-one consultation with students, and as guest lecturers in the classroom. For their assigned subjects, subject librarians author and maintain Internet resource lists as well as print and Internet guides to research and information resources. They may also serve as instructors in the information literacy courses taught by the University librarians and may work with academic departments to develop information literacy classes focused on their specific needs.

Additional Responsibilities

As members of the University's academic faculty, subject librarians participate in the Libraries' and the University's governance. They serve on committees and hold leadership positions within the Libraries and in the University community. They also conduct research, publish, and actively participate in the work of academic, professional, and community service organizations.

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