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Dangerous liaisons? Defining the faculty liaison librarian service model, its effectiveness and sustainability

John Rodwell (The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)
Linden Fairbairn (Fisher Library, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 10 January 2008




Many university libraries are adopting a faculty liaison librarian structure as an integral part of their organization and service delivery model. This paper aims to examine, in a pragmatic way, the variations in the definition of the role of the faculty liaison librarian, the expectations of those librarians, their library managers and their clients and the impact of environmental factors. The faculty liaison librarian role is not entirely new, evolving from the traditional subject librarian and university special/branch library role. However the emerging role is characterized by a more outward‐looking perspective and complexity, emphasizing stronger involvement and partnership with the faculty and direct engagement in the University's teaching and research programs.


Following a review of the literature and other sources on the rationale and role of library liaison, the current developments, drivers and expectations are discussed.


The study finds that dynamic external and internal environments of universities are driving the evolution of library liaison, so the role description is still fluid. However, the breadth and weight of expectations is now such that the effectiveness and sustainability of the role has to be addressed.

Practical implications

While a dynamic, broader and more intensive role for the faculty liaison librarian is emerging, more thinking is needed about the extent of that role and its sustainability. What, for example, are the priorities for the faculty liaison librarian? What traditional activities can, and may, have to be abandoned? These considerations are necessary not only to guide the librarians, but also to help define the attributes and skills required for the position and to determine the institutional support it requires.


This is a contemporary critique of the well‐established, but diverse library service – the faculty liaison librarian structure.



Rodwell, J. and Fairbairn, L. (2008), "Dangerous liaisons? Defining the faculty liaison librarian service model, its effectiveness and sustainability", Library Management, Vol. 29 No. 1/2, pp. 116-124.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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