Plugging the “whole”: librarians as interdisciplinary facilitators

Jeffrey A. Knapp (University Libraries, Penn State University, Altoona, Altoona, Pennsylvania, USA)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Publication date: 16 March 2012



The purpose of this paper is to examine some of the obstacles to interdisciplinary research and examine some ways that academic librarians can help to overcome them.


A broad review of the literature of the social sciences was reviewed for descriptions of difficulties that interdisciplinary researchers encounter. General developments in librarianship from library literature were then applied as a starting point for discussing ways that librarians can provide important services to interdisciplinary scholars.


Librarians, as “meta‐scholars”, can provide useful services to scholars engaging in interdisciplinary research.

Social implications

Interdisciplinary research has shown great potential for problem‐solving, being focused more on a problem than with disciplinary distinctions. This is a worthy area for librarians to target with their skills and services.


This is a discussion of ways that librarians can break into new roles and responsibilities, and simultaneously strengthen their profile at a time when some expect librarianship to fade away.



Knapp, J. (2012), "Plugging the “whole”: librarians as interdisciplinary facilitators", Library Review, Vol. 61 No. 3, pp. 199-214.

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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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