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MLIS Grad's Book of Essays Describes New Librarianship Roles

By: Diane Stirling
(315) 443-8975

 
  Rebeca Befus Peacock

For those wondering what some of the newest positions in the library profession might be like, a new reference guide provides insights into the day-to-day realities of those ‘new librarianship’ roles.

School of Information Studies (iSchool) MLIS graduate Rebeca Befus Peacock ’08, has just published a book that presents perspectives on those jobs and their daily responsibilities and functions. The information is presented from the viewpoint of library professionals who hold those jobs, have taken on new roles, have transformed their careers, and have helped their libraries evolve to serve new needs among library users. The book, “The New Academic Librarian, Essays on Changing Roles and Responsibilities,” provides 19 chapters authored by 22 individuals, all of whom are working in new fields in library science or who have experienced a library transition.

The idea for the book came to Rebeca, who now serves as the instructional design librarian at Wayne State University, in the fall of 2011. She had just taken the job of WSU’s first-year-student librarian, and “got excited because I found there was a web design librarian, a web developer librarian, a metadata librarian there–and the more I started looking, the more I found these specialized types of jobs were popping up all over online. Today, there are just new-fangled librarian jobs all over the place,” she remarked.

The more information Rebeca found, the more she began to think about the differences in the sectors of library work–­tech services, outreach, reference instruction, and collections. “I took a hard look at our profession’s changing status [assessing that] “bibliographers aren’t really the kind of librarians today’s student needs in college…[they] need different librarians; the professors need different librarians; and there are all these new needs we have to fulfill–and how are we preparing the profession to fulfill these needs,” she wondered.

That reflection branched into the idea to ask professionals who are working in those emerging library jobs every day to describe the work they do, how their roles function, how their libraries have changed, and then obtain their perspective and advice regarding the changing needs of today’s library users, Rebeca said.

“What I hope this book does is help people new to the profession think about how they are contributing to the evolving role of librarians, and the people in charge of libraries think about libraries’ infrastructures and readiness for these roles. Our hope is that this book will be used by new librarians, people who want to create some of these new positions, or even students who are still in school, who would be able to look into the skills and duties of these new types of librarian jobs, and even find the internships they need to help get them to that stage.”

The book is organized in four parts: “The New Face of Public Services”; Digital Publishing, Copyright and Data”; “Specialties – from Libraries to Collections”; and “Web, E-Resources and Technology.” Essay contributors were selected after Rebeca issued a call for papers within the profession, and she chose from more than 100 submissions.

Contributing a chapter of her own, Rebeca described her work as a first-year experience librarian. Three other iSchool alumnae contributed chapters, as well. Gwen Glazer,’10, the staff writer/editor and social media coordinator at Cornell University Library, co-authored a chapter on using social media to market libraries. She worked with Katy Kelly, ’10, communications and outreach librarian/assistant professor at the University of Dayton. Linda Galloway, ’04, who is a biology, chemistry, and forensic sciences librarian at Syracuse University's Carnegie Library, wrote a piece on the work of a grants librarian.

Peacock co-edited the book with Jill Wurm, the associate director for marketing and communications at Wayne State University. It was published by McFarland, and will be available soon as an ebook, according to Rebeca, who writes about her book and about new librarianship on her blog.

Rebeca also has worked as mathematics librarian at Michigan State University; taught a course at WSU on “Instructional Methods for Librarians" as an adjunct; and is an instructional design consultant at IBPRO. Her undergraduate degree is in biology and education.

Rebeca completed her MLIS at the iSchool in about 18 months as a distance student. She said she chose Syracuse over options UNC Chapel Hill and Illinois “because Syracuse was strong in digital libraries and I thought the iSchool was out there – making paths.”

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