Monday, October 3, 2011

Embedded Librarians in Course Management Systems (CMS)

Bernd W. Becker's article "Embedded Librarianship: A Point-of-Need Service" defines "embedded librarian" in the following terms:
Embedded librarian describes any librarian that takes an active role inside the online CMS classroom (237).
CMS stands for "course management system," which I have also heard as LMS or "learning management system."  These two acronyms describe the same thing, as far as I can tell.   Becker states: "The CMS provides a structure in which a librarian can become a part of the course" (237).  Using Moodle or Blackboard has become a more common method for reaching out to students for librarians.  Becker lists five reasons why the embedded librarian has been a bit more successful.  He argues that "this approach is addressing many of the learning style characteristics of the current generation of students," including the fact (Reason #1) that
  1. "students start their research by looking on the Internet"
  2. "library resources are typically remotely accessed"
  3. "students expect library resources on the Web to be ranked"
  4. "students are more likely to use a database if it is made familiar to them, and"
  5. "students and faculty are interested in a point of need, practical approach to library research" (238).
I am working to embed myself in a few English composition classes this semester.  With the instructor's permission, I have added a research forum where students can ask me questions to get help with their research.  In the past, this has not inundated nor swamped me with requests, but typically there are one or two students who contact me for assistance, which has been very manageable.

In some sections I have proactively worked with students, offering suggestions on what they might do with their topic and which resources might prove useful.  In this instance, the instructor asked students to post a paragraph with complete sentences that described what they might be interested in writing about.  Knowing their topics, allowed me to conduct some preliminary searches in the catalog and sometimes in the databases.  Suggesting sources or potentially useful keywords for searches can be well received by the students.

Below is the full citation of the article:
Becker, Bernd W.  "Embedded Librarianship: A Point-of-Need Service."  Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian 29.3 (12 August 2010): 237-40.

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