Event Title

Conference on Academic Library Management (CALM)

Date Created

Summer 6-9-2023


The traditional subject specialist model allowed liaison librarians at our mid-sized, public, doctoral/professional university to develop strong relationships with disciplinary faculty. But changing priorities at the university level and reductions in library budget and staffing created new challenges, resulting in liaisons shouldering too many responsibilities and facing unsustainable workloads. Learning to “do less with less” required a significant evolution in how we approached our core work as academic librarians. How could our library re-envision a previously successful liaison model when the librarians agreed that a change was needed, but didn’t agree what it should look like?

Through a design thinking-inspired process, our voluntary, librarian-led task force identified the constraints of our current liaison model, gathered inspiration from the profession and our own collective experiences, and brainstormed strategies for changing our approach in accordance with our guiding principles. We held multiple small-group workshop sessions and sought regular feedback from colleagues to inform and update prototype models. This work involved investigating our values as liaison librarians and determining our priorities as we grappled with learning to do less with less. We had difficult conversations, negotiated compromises, and identified activities that we needed to stop.

This presentation will discuss how we utilized a design thinking framework and inclusive practices to lead organizational change and to develop a hybrid liaison model that centers students and champions flexibility and collaboration. We will also reflect on the expected and unexpected impacts of the new liaison model one year after implementation.

Document Type



liaison models; inclusive organizational change