Building a liaison team

Today, I had the pleasure of listening to Kelly Thormodson of the University of Iowa talk about how they’ve been building a team out of their liaison program at their health sciences library. Sadly, the impetus for this grew out of the loss of our friend, Kathy Skhal, who many of us knew and admired. Losing Kathy made the Iowa librarians realize they needed to work together more on many fronts.

Clearly evident from Kelly’s talk was her enthusiasm and no nonsense approach. Kelly is a woman with a mission to improve an already successful program. She has accomplished this already in many ways including

-establishing standard training curricula and handouts
-having librarians write up their instruction sessions such that someone else could pick up the class and teach it if needed
-using a joint education calendar so she can quickly see who is teaching what at a specific time
-and encouraging cross contamination and communication through meetings, serving on committees outside of liaison assignments and team teaching.

I think what many of us can glean from this is there is benefit from sharing what we are teaching and how we are teaching it within our own libraries. By doing this, when emergencies arise, we have others to lean on that are well prepared to back us up. So many times we feel like our one-shot truly is our one shot at getting into a class and move heaven and earth or some in sick to teach it. This team approach really helps alleviate some of that pressure while still providing good service and preserving relationships that take so long to build.

It took a tragedy for these librarians to come together. My challenge (and yours) is to figure out how to do these things in our normal library lives sans tragedy.