Conference Paper: Embedded librarian

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The following paper will be presented at the upcoming World Library and Information Congress, 78th IFLA General Conference and Assembly that will take place in Helsinki this August.

Reference Librarianship On The Fly: Taking the Librarian Out of the Library
Sara Wingate Gray
University College, University of London
San Francisco, California, USA


With the advent of mobile technologies, reference and information services to library patrons
have finally come of age. However, it is no longer enough that the ubiquitous virtual reference
web chat is open 24/7, or that a library’s website is geared to mobile device access. What, in
fact, true digital and mobile assimilation means for reference and information services of the
21st century is the ability for the library to reach out beyond its physical and mobile deviceoriented
structures, to extend a hand of reference and information greeting to the human user,
quite literally, in the street.
This is the realm of the “Embedded” or Itinerant Librarian, whose new role is to take the library
with her out into the city to meet her patrons as they go about their busy day-to-day lives. This
paper presents case studies, practical professional advice and vision statements of how such
services can be achieved to produce a truly 21st century library.

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