What if a reference librarian was assigned to a college course, to be on hand to suggest books, online links, or other resources based on class discussion? A media-studies course at Baylor University tried the idea last semester, with an “embedded librarian” following the class discussion via Twitter.
At the start of each class session, the professor, Gardner Campbell, asked the 11 students to open their laptops, fire up Twitter, and say hello to their librarian, who was following the discussion from her office. During the hourlong class, the librarian, Ellen Hampton Filgo, would do what she refers to as “library jazz,” looking at the questions and comments posed on Twitter by the students, responding with suggestions of links or books, and anticipating what else might be helpful that students might not have known to ask.
Ms. Filgo said she would try it again, but she worries that it would be difficult to expand the effort to a wider number of classes. “It took out three hours of my workweek,” she says. “The question is how can you scale this up?”