This week’s readings are mainly focused on the changed role of librarians in academic library environment. In particular, authors focus on embedded librarianship which is “a unique platform where the librarian can adopt new online technologies in order to be actively involved in a course and complement instruction”(Montgomery, 2010). Considering that people are less likely to visit library facilities to search physical collections but the needs for library resources are increasing over time, librarian’s ability to use technology (such as conducting online webinar, using emails, IM service, and social networking services) cannot be stressed enough.
Although librarians are well aware of the increasing necessity of online service, we also know that online reference service makes it difficult for librarians to conduct appropriate reference service in serving to patrons’ real interests: that is, librarians cannot observe a patron’s body language and face expression so they may not know whether she is satisfied with reference service. Thus, to overcome such limitation of online service, a library can try to increase the number of embedded librarians who are paired with a college and ideally occupy a permanent physical space within a academic department. As Matos et al. (2010) note, however, the availability of embedded librarians in person may not be always possible due to space limitation. Then, using new technology such as webinar tailored to the information needs of students can be one of supplementary services to in-depth reference service. In webinar, librarians can demonstrate how to access and search the library’s resources to students by sharing their computer screen with student through online. Additional features such as “chat” also make students feel like they are being served by librarians in person by asking questions and getting a response instantly.
However, we should keep in mind the limitation of new technology such as interactive webinar. For instance, while an instructor teach a workshop alone, she may not be able to monitor what is going on a chat window at the same time. So at least two instructors need to collaborate together with one as a moderator and the other a main instructor. Another example would be that unlike a physical seminar, a webinar is done online which means participants may be in different time zones. So instructors of webinars should make clear the time of their webinars. Last month I had a plan to attend a webinar which would introduce new online LMS (learning management system), but I could not make it and ended up watching a recorded version. It said it would start at 3 pm but it turned out they meant 3 pm PST. All in all, webinars certainly increase interactivity, but more careful preparation regarding instruction on “how-to-participate” should be done.