The days of a librarian sitting comfortably behind a desk providing access to knowledge are behind us. Although librarians still provide access to books and journals researchers need for their work, many are now also responsible for:
In order to do this well academic librarians need to adapt the skills they have and learn new ones.
At Cambridge University there is an internal staff development programme to help library staff to develop the skills they need – the “Research Support Ambassador Programme.” There are over one hundred libraries in Cambridge and all deal with the research community. Some have dedicated staff to help researchers, whilst others have a very small staff who cover all roles. The programme is open to all library staff and aims to give them the skills they need to support researchers and provide answers to common questions with confidence.
In their article for New Review of Academic Librarianship, Developing the 21st Century Academic Librarian, Claire Sewell and Danny Kingsley look at how this programme has evolved since it started in 2015. After some initial teething problems, the programme is now running well, and the response from Cambridge librarians has been positive. It has also led to an increase in awareness of this area among staff and a better service being given to the research community.