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The special librarian and personalized meta-services: Strategies for reconnecting librarians and researchers

Jan Michael Nolin (Swedish School of Library and Information Science, University of Borås, Borås, Sweden)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 25 November 2013



The article aims to identify areas of potential research support that none of the traditional supportive actors (libraries, IT units, information units) have concerned themselves with, arguing for new tasks and roles for the academic library, specifically the special librarian.


Areas of “overload” in the digital practice of contemporary researchers are identified and then connected to various personalized digital tools. The article explores the idea that attention to new aspects of researchers information needs creates a potential for developing personalized meta-services at academic libraries.


It is possible to identify a wealth of new services that can, if put into practice, substantially redefine the relationship between academic librarians and researchers. This entails a turn from service aimed at novice users to sophisticated end-users. Such ideas also carry implications for LIS education programs and the need to build on special librarians who uphold competence in distinct knowledge domains. Two forms of domain-specific meta-services are explored: as support for collaboration and support for presentation.

Practical implications

It is suggested that academic libraries systematically utilize the “full cost” model of project funding in order to exhibit concrete benefits of personalized meta-services. The article holds implications for both academic libraries and for LIS educational institutions.


Personalized meta-services constitute a relatively fresh topic and have previously not been explored in connection with academic libraries.



This research has been supported by the R&D-board of the University of Borås.


Michael Nolin, J. (2013), "The special librarian and personalized meta-services: Strategies for reconnecting librarians and researchers", Library Review, Vol. 62 No. 8/9, pp. 508-524.



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