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Embedded academic librarian experiences in online courses: Roles, faculty collaboration, and opinion

Starr Hoffman (University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 26 July 2011




This paper seeks to determine common and unique activities, promotional methods, time management strategies, and best practices of academic librarians embedded in online courses at six institutions.


This is a mixed methods study using both interviews and quantitative data to study the activities and experiences of embedded librarians at six institutions.


The librarians and faculty involved in the embedded services reported unexpected benefits to the service. However, experiences with managing the time required for embedding along with regular reference duties varied, and scaling up the service from a few courses to a regular library service caused staffing issues for a few institutions.

Research limitations/implications

This study was exploratory by nature and thus its scope was limited. Because only six institutions were studied, it is difficult to determine the true state of embedded librarianship in the USA. Future research should build on the foundation to determine outcomes for which embedded service is best suited and perform cost‐benefit analyses.

Practical implications

Because embedded services can become popular quickly, individual librarians should work with library administrators to determine whether staffing a full‐scale service will be possible and plan accordingly. If a full‐scale service is not feasible, the service scope may need to be limited (for instance, to core courses or to specific academic departments).


Past research on embedded librarianship has been limited to single institutions or to purposes and outcomes of the service. This paper provides a comparative study of embedded librarians at six institutions, and concentrates on the librarian's experience at each.



Hoffman, S. (2011), "Embedded academic librarian experiences in online courses: Roles, faculty collaboration, and opinion", Library Management, Vol. 32 No. 6/7, pp. 444-456.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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