Academic libraries in the US operate according to an academic support model that is so old and so pervasive that it has become like water to fish: nobody notices it, least of all those who practice it. But given the current feverish interest in academic performance, it may be time to ask whether every academic support unit shouldn’t look more like the library.
At Atkins, the old model is expressed in the phrase “every class has a librarian.” By this we mean that we have subject experts assigned to every department or discipline, the better to integrate library support into faculty research, curriculum, right down to deep familiarity with class assignments. Our librarians can speak the language, literally, and students and faculty feel the difference. To this we add ad-hoc availability of our experts, nights and weekends. On any given day, it’s safe to say that librarians are the only adult academic support on campus after 5 PM.