The Indispensable Academic Librarian: Teaching and Collaborating for Change

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Traditionally, academic librarians have delivered “beck and call” service to educators both in and out of the classroom. However, far from being merely auxiliary to the learning cycle, academic librarians are educators in their own right. If the primary challenge before them is to change how they’re perceived within their institutions, Reale proposes, the key lies in becoming a proactive teacher and collaborator. Offering strategies applicable to many different areas, this book shows how the academic librarian can be an educator in both structured and unstructured spaces on campuses. Blending practice-based evidence with a warm approach, Reale

  • discusses the changing perception of academic librarians, how they are seen and how they see themselves;
  • shows how academic librarians can and should assert their rightful place in the learning cycle;
  • looks at how to match teaching goals with academic librarians’ mission;
  • advocates for the indispensable roles the academic librarian should play, including co-collaborator, one-on-one research consultant, expert-at-large in non-structured spaces such as the dorm or student lounge, and embedded librarian in the classroom;  
  • offers talking points for self-advocacy, looking at the many ways academic librarians are making a difference; and
  • explores activities and programming for engagement and learning.

This book will empower and validate academic librarians by demonstrating their indispensable roles as educators.


Chapter 1    Librarians in Academia: A Place at the Table
Chapter 2    Teaching at the Reference Desk
Chapter 3    Teaching and Learning as Conversation
Chapter 4    Promoting the Spirit of Inquiry in the Classroom
Chapter 5    Collaboration with Faculty
Chapter 6    Critical Librarians and Critical Pedagogy in the Classroom
Chapter 7    Creating a Welcoming Sense of Place in the Academic Library
Chapter 8    The Librarian and Reflection
Chapter 9    Librarians as Leaders
Chapter 10    On Being Indispensable


Michelle Reale

Michelle Reale is a professor and access services and outreach librarian at Arcadia University. Her books include Inquiry and Research: A Relational Approach in the Classroom, The Indispensable Academic Librarian: Teaching and Collaborating for Change, Mentoring and Managing Students in the Academic Library, Becoming an Embedded Librarian, and Becoming a Reflective Librarian and Teacher: Strategies for Mindful Academic Practice. Her research interests are embedded librarianship, mentoring, narrative inquiry, poetic inquiry, and reflective practice.

"Reale presents current thinking on the topic, case studies, and easy to follow strategies for working librarians ... While much of the information in this book will be of greater interest to working academic librarians, Reale’s discussion of critical pedagogy and critical librarianship should be of interest to many in the academic and outside world."
— Brooklyn Rail

"By collaborating with faculty, librarians can forge a stronger connection with students, and by reflecting, they’ll be better able to assess successes and struggles. Reale acknowledges that this can take time and warns readers not to be dismayed by slow but steady results. VERDICT: This title will appeal to all academic librarians, especially those feeling limited by their environment. It’s also a good option for tutors and writing specialists who work closely with professors and students. "
— Library Journal

"At a time when academic library services are often viewed as an afterthought, Reale illuminates a path toward heightened relevance ... this volume should provide considerable value to beginning instruction, outreach, and subject librarians. Reale’s book also serves as a practical complement to the many traditional titles in this area."