Libraries Society of North America 31st Annual Conference
Wyndham Baltimore Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland - March 20-26, 2003
in Left Field: The Benefits of Field Librarianship for Studio Arts Programs
Haines began her paper by discussing her own situation as the Art & Design
Field Librarian at the University of Michigan. Her office is located in the
School of Art and Design in the Art and Architecture Building on North Campus of
the University of Michigan. Art and design library materials are located across
the street in the Media Union Library. This is a centralized library that serves
architecture, engineering, and urban planning, as well as art and design. Many
other campus libraries also house materials of interest to the students in the
School of Art and Design. Haines illustrated her discussion by providing a brief
description of a typical day in her life as a field librarian.
this introduction, she talked about the definition of field librarianship. She
stated that field librarians work most hours outside of the library, in the
department or school they serve. Field librarians are associated with a
centralized library, but work with no, or minimal, physical collection on site.
Field librarians may have joint appointments with the library and the department
served. In addition, they may work some hours (typically reference desk hours)
in the library. She provided some examples of field librarians in various
universities in the United States.
then proceeded to discuss the many benefits of field librarianship to studio art
programs. She felt that field librarians were particularly well suited to
meeting the needs of studio art students including their interdisciplinary
needs, fear of libraries, and unique information seeking patterns. She provided
examples from her own experience as a field librarian.
benefit of field librarianship she identified was cost savings, making a
comparison with departmental libraries in particular. Field librarianship can
reduce costs through sharing of resources, equipment, office space and even
travel funds. Also, field librarians experience greater job satisfaction because
they feel more connected to the people they serve, can more easily view the
fruits of their work, and can benefit from being situated nearer to
opportunities for enrichment within the art and design department.
of the major advantages of field librarianship that she discussed was the
benefit of enhanced communication. She gave examples of why field librarianship
helped improve communication in her role as liaison, in providing reference
services, in collection development, and also in one-on-one encounters with
faculty and students.
the many benefits of field librarianship for studio arts programs, she also
pointed out that there were some drawbacks. These included disconnect from
library colleagues and the physical library collection, a temptation to take
sides (either with the library or the school), the excessive time commitment of
being closely associated with two departments, computing and technology
maintenance issues, and a general misunderstanding of the field librarian's
then talked about the requirements needed for a successful field librarian
program. She stressed the need for commitment from the university
administration, both from the library and the department. She felt that the
skills needed to be a successful field librarian are broad library experience,
good communication skills, and an ability to understand and be diplomatic in
university and library politics.
believes there will be a broader acceptance of field librarianship in the
future. As people see the benefits, there will be a growth in both the numbers
of field librarians and also the variety of positions.
of the PowerPoint slides and a reference list were provided to attendees and are
also available upon request by contacting Annette Haines at email@example.com.