Evaluating the impact of academic liaison librarians on their user community: a review and case study

The paper presents the findings of a small-scale study undertaken at a UK university. The purpose of the research was to investigate the perceived impact and value of the Academic Library Liaison service at the university. This was considered to be a critical issue of concern, in the light of drivers threatening the UK higher education library sector to de-professionalise – or worse, remove – such services. A mixed methods approach was adopted, combining an online questionnaire disseminated to academic staff, resulting in 29 responses from three academic departments, and in-depth interviews with eight members of academic staff. The results indicate that although academic staff do value the service provided by Academic Liaison Librarians (ALLs), there is scope to increase awareness of the range of services on offer. The study also demonstrates that academic staff prioritise the contribution that ALLs can make through the possession of in-depth subject knowledge, IT skills and well-developed communication skills, and through the provision of advice on copyright matters and assistance with institutional repositories. This holds implications for curriculum design on the part of LIS educators.