Dangerous Liaisons - UW Libraries

July 11, 2017

Roles and Strengths of Teaching Librarians: An Update

Laura Dimmit

In November, you may recall reading on the blog about the call for feedback to proposed changes to ACRL’s “Roles and Strengths of Teaching Librarians in Higher Education.”

Bringing this process full circle, in the July/August issue of C&RL News, you can read the updated document, accompanied by further details about the revision process, and suggested uses.

In shifting away from a list of skills to a “conceptual model,” the revised Roles and Strengths (formerly the “Standards for Proficiencies for Instruction Librarians and Coordinators”) reflect a more holistic view of teaching in librarianship:

“In keeping with the Framework, which provides “a cluster of interconnected core concepts . . . rather than any prescriptive enumeration of skills,” the new “Roles and Strengths” document aims to construct broad and often overlapping categories within which teaching librarians operate, and identifies strengths needed to carry out the daily work within those roles.”

The new Roles are outlined as follows:


“A teaching librarian will need to be able to contextually situate information literacy and communicate its value across a range of audiences in the college/university community.”


“This role requires highly effective organizational and communication skills in managing multiple simultaneous projects, events, resources, assessment, statistical reporting, and coordinating with administrators as well as academic departments.”

Instructional designer

“The instructional designer makes pedagogical choices appropriate to the educational environment, taking into consideration audience, culture, and accessibility dimensions.”

Lifelong learner

“Throughout the lifelong learner’s professional career, the librarian maintains enthusiasm for teaching through reflective practice and exploration of new approaches to instruction.”


“Leading by example includes working to create and maintain a healthy work environment by encouraging new ideas in teaching and learning and by supporting instructional endeavors of librarian colleagues….Using a unique, centralized perspective shaped by relationships with students, faculty, and staff, the leader is inclusive and dynamic.”


“The teacher engages with learners, partners with faculty and administrators, and motivates learning with regard to the importance of information literacy in disciplinary, subject-based, and applied contexts.”

Teaching partner

“Being a teaching partner requires the teaching librarian to have confidence in the strengths they bring to collaborative relationships with colleagues. This expertise may include broader perspectives about information literacy, formal education in ways that information is organized and classified, expertise in research skills, and knowledge of scholarly communication models and processes.”

What I find most compelling about these roles is that they all acknowledge the interconnected nature of the library with the rest of the university landscape. And, importantly, all the work of teaching that happens outside the classroom also comes through–the planning, the coordination, the relationship-building, the development and experimentation.

How do these roles align with how you view your own work? Do you identify as a “teaching librarian”?