What Does an Embedded Librarian Do?

Many Penn State World Campus courses have an embedded librarian, but students may not be familiar with exactly what they do or how best to enlist their help. We asked Emily Mross, Business Librarian and Library Outreach Coordinator, Penn State Harrisburg Library, to share some insight.

In your time as a student, you’ve probably been assigned many research projects. Maybe they were a bit of a challenge. Maybe you had a hard time navigating the library resources or simply did not know what was available. The best way to clear these research hurdles is to check in with a librarian. Many World Campus courses have an embedded librarian, which is a librarian who is assigned to your course. He or she is part of your course in Canvas and is in frequent, direct contact with your professor. Your embedded librarian might have even helped to design some of your course assignments and might be responsible for grading some of them.

World Campus students are always welcome to use chat and email reference services from the library, but if you have an embedded librarian, I would encourage you to reach out to them first — either through your course’s Embedded Librarian Message Board or via email. While any Penn State librarian can help you, your embedded librarian understands your course and your research assignments. Embedded librarians are subject experts with a great deal of experience in your area of study. This makes them an invaluable resource. Your embedded librarian may have even created a course guide, which is like a library website just for your course and assignments, that has the best resources for you to use.

Additionally, you can make an appointment with your embedded librarian to chat about your research project and any specific challenges you are facing when it comes to your topic, resources, or search strategy. You can do this via phone or Zoom video chat, which allows you to share screens and look at the resources together in real time.

If you’re in a time pinch, use Ask a Librarian chat services for quick and friendly help. When you need in-depth research help related to your course projects, be sure to take the time to reach out to your embedded librarian and exchange a few emails or set up a virtual appointment. While you’ll be taking time to make the appointment, your embedded librarian will ultimately save you time because he or she knows your course assignments and requirements, and they know the best resources to use. It’s a winning combination!

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