I have to say that this is the first article that I have read (possibly at all, but certainly in a long time) with a focus on a special library. (Apologies to all those who work in a special library!) I found it really quite interesting–although I have to be honest, what I found most interesting was the actual job-working as research librarians in (what appeared to be) a newspaper environment. How cool would that be?! Though, I’m sure it would be quite stressful given the deadlines that dailies demand. I had a previous career in publishing–working for a magazine, for a not-for-profit professional organization, and for a graphic design firm–so I have a little bit of experience with that type of deadline driven environment. Though certainly not the type of turnaround required for a big newspaper. But I think some of the zeitgeist would be similar.
I never thought of newspapers/journalists utilizing the skills and services of a librarian. Don’t know why…I mean I know that organizations like–well, like the CBC, have librarians to maintain in-house media libraries. But I guess that’s where my thinking ended: in the librarian as curator type role. (In fact I think there was a recent job posting at CBC for that type of position.) And I think my ignorance is based on the fact that I always thought that part and parcel of journalism was researching. I never stopped to think that they might need the support of professionals other than an editor and, well, a photographer! (Shows how much I know!) But it does make sense now that I think about it: all of that background information to be sifted through–particularly when time is of such the essence.
I was struck in a couple of places how much “embedding” a librarian into the newspaper situation was similar to that in an education environment, particularly when the article outlined how the librarian role was changing. For example, it was specifically mentioned that a “[t]ransition from a ‘generalist’…to a more content-specialized…” (p. 541) was one trend that had been noticed, along with the idea of the embedded librarian being more pro-active and better able to support the needs of the patrons, as opposed to waiting to be “invited in” (as it were) and therefor only being reactive to the needs of the patrons. Both of these ideas were discussed in an article I read earlier on embedded librarianship in the academic environs (though for the life of me, I can’t remember which one just now; I think it’s somewhere in a blog post!).
Furthermore, I was also struck by the similarity of the challenges; that in placing individual (or small groups of) librarians into different editorial teams, that librarians were concerned that they would look touch with each other : “Concerns included loss of team cohesion…” (p. 543). And also that editorial staff wouldn’t take to kindly to having librarians plunked into their midst. This is also similar to the way in which librarians perceived faculty welcoming their arrival–or not.
Ultimately, the change to the way in which the library (decentralized) and librarians (embedded) operated at Fairfax was significant; overall, it appears it was a successful decision. I’d be curious to know how things worked out in the long term. After all, the article is from 2007 and so much has changed since then in technology, media, and information services. A quick look into Fairfax Media shows that it is still a large media empire. I did scan through the job board to see if they were currently hiring information/library professionals but nothing was posted just right now, so that proves nothing.
Maybe a little more research on my part is needed, yes? Hmm…does anyone know a good librarian to help me?!
Brown, D., & Leith, D. (2007). Integration of the research library service into the editorial process; “Embedding” the librarian into the media. Aslib Proceedings, 59, 539-549. dpi: 10.1108/00012530710839614