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Collaboration, Advocacy, and Recruitment:
Area and International Studies Librarianship Workshop

October 30-31, 2013
Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA


Theme I | Theme II | Theme III

Theme I: Collaboration

Area and International Studies Librarians have always functioned in a collaborative environment. For them, collaborative activities can take many forms ranging from collection development and reference with colleagues at the national level to close collaboration with academic departments and programs on campus and, in many instances, collaboration with librarians at the international level. The Center for Research Libraries’ Area Microform Projects (AMPs), which include collaborative digitization and microfilming projects with libraries in various areas of the world as well as collaborative collection development projects, are just one example of this wide range of collaborative activities. More recently, several institutions have experimented with and implemented new models of collaboration where an area studies librarian position is shared by more than one institution.

With the increasing awareness in recent years among large research libraries in the U.S. that no library can build and maintain comprehensive collections anymore, combined with developments related to the digital age, collaboration among research libraries in general has been taken to a higher level. The development of shared print repositories, partnerships such as HathiTrust as well as consortial purchase agreements are just a few examples that illustrate the importance of and reliance on collaboration and partnership as defining themes going into the future.

What does this mean for area and international studies library collections?

In light of this scenario, we would like the participants to consider this set of issues:

Theme II: Recruitment, Training, Mentoring

Area and international studies librarians have a diverse combination of qualifications: they need to combine deep subject background with knowledge of library processes/workflows, an awareness of the ongoing changes in research libraries, and, increasingly, they need to be tech-savvy. They must be competent collection managers with strong language abilities and subject expertise in their disciplines. For some areas, libraries find it increasingly difficult to recruit librarians with the right combination of desired skills and backgrounds. And yet, as the need for "global competencies" and internationalization on our campuses increases, area studies librarians will continue to play a major role in developing and shaping collections, and in being partners in the research and teaching mission of our institutions.

We ask the participants to consider these issues in their responses:

Theme III: Advocacy/Positioning Area Studies Librarians and Collections

Changes in academic publishing and research, together with growing interest to promote global competencies in North American universities, have led to reviews of library organizational structures seeking to align area studies collections and services with these trends. In some cases, new area studies departments have emerged as distinct organizational units in research libraries. In other cases, such units have existed for quite some time. There is a growing recognition that area specialists share similar issues and challenges which demand more encompassing approaches. Since this is a recent development, these area studies units are still trying to find a common voice and strive to position themselves within their institutions, as well as at the national and international levels.

In light of this scenario and based on your own work and experience, please consider this set of issues in your reply to the provocation: