E.Y. Berry Library-Learning Center

Black Hills State University
Search Library:

Library Liaison Program

In adherence to the mission statement, the Library at BHSU recognizes the importance of its involvement in academics. One important component to ensure the success of this statement is our Library Liaison Program. Currently, liaison librarians play a role in collection development, promote the library's service, and provide a bridge of communication between academics and the library.

Academic library liaison programs have become an established component of library operations. While historically rooted in collection development, today's liaison programs of other libraries have expanded and specialized in scope. Our goal is to have our library liaisons become more familiar with the department or school that has been assigned to them, and follow suit with how involved the liaisons are with the faculty of the University. It is critical that the liaison librarian discover "faculty needs and concerns" in order to collaborate effectively.

In an effort to be active in this recognition, we assign funds to each of the six schools of interest. Use of these funds is intended to promote material specific to discipline. At the library, we already have an abundance of material. But, as learning progresses at a high rate, as well as advancement of materials, the renewal of this material is necessary.


The library assigns a professional librarian to each school to gather information about library needs, to assist faculty with collection development in their discipline, to acquaint the faculty to library services and policies, and in general, to serve as the contact person for the school. The extent of each liaison's activity will be different; affected by the nature of the program, discipline, department, and school. This is to ensure that acquisitions are focused and responsive to the University's instructional and research goals and to ensure that faculty and students receive the best instruction, research assistance, and public service that University Library can provide.

Discipline Assignment

Your library liaison is to be well informed about the library's collections, services, policies and resources, and skilled in interpreting and promoting these to faculty and students in his or her academic unit. In this case, the school of specific disciplines, Arts and Humanities, Behavioral Science, Business, Education, Math and Social Science, and Natural Science. The liaison is expected to be knowledgeable of the subject matter. Academic library liaisons must acquire the necessary understanding of a specialized subject. Attending faculty lectures is one suggested method of gaining knowledge through this association. In addition, they can explore proposed questions such as: What are the students reading? Researching? Exploring? Liaisons should explore these same concepts if they are unfamiliar with them or their knowledge base is thin. Regardless of a liaison's level of expertise, learning continues throughout a career and liaisons should set aside time to broaden their knowledge base.


Communication is the key to establishing faculty relationships, and those relationships lead to success as a liaison. They must initiate, establish and promote their relationships with faculty members in the schools they are assigned to assist, as well as adapting to the variety of said faculty members. An assortment of methods should be utilized in order to enhance connections and strengthen the relationship between the library liaison and faculty member. Liaisons as selectors of collection development, must also be skilled in dealing with all types of constituents and their preferences and habits. The method of choice is dependent on faculty inclinations, information imparted, and what communication options are available at the University. Studies have indicated in-person communication is the most effective method of connecting with faculty, as well as ongoing liaison and outreach work giving the material selector the opportunity to establish credibility in the relationship. The library has also created an Android app that provides faculty an avenue for submitting material requests.

Collection Development

All materials obtained through the allocations to the schools, at the discretion of the liaisons and their faculty, will comply with the library collection development policy. It is especially important for library liaisons to be familiar with this policy, as well as any requesting and purchasing procedures be directed to the Acquisitions Librarian. Determining the criteria for selecting materials often involves discussion with relevant faculty in consultation with library staff. These general criteria will be found in the policy, and are the basis for donations and de-selection of material. In further addressing the de-selection process, this will require input from faculty of the discipline material being weeded, and the need for the liaison to be familiar with what faculty and students actually use, is pertinent.


At this point, acquisitions plays the role of the receiver of all requests made, as well as determining and tracking of the funds' allocations. Acquisitions holds memberships to acclaimed book review sites, publisher sites, and various other tools for the purpose of offering more substance to the collections. When necessary, other material is ordered by the acquisitions librarian, and other librarians, to complement what the faculty has been requesting or what seems to be trending at that time. These purchases aren't deducted from the school allocation, but as part of the funds to develop the collection of the library. These distinctions are "Faculty Purchases", and "New Books", be sure to view both of these preview pages to find other material useful to your curriculum.


The library budgeting process is the responsibility of the acquisitions librarian. Allocations are set at a specific equal amount for all current schools as recommended by the acquisitions librarian and approved by the director. If one school does not use, or does not plan to use its allocation, then those funds may be used by another school. The acquisitions librarian also tracks the spending as the requests and orders are processed. Upon request of a liaison, or member of the academic team (faculty, chair, dean), the acquisitions librarian can provide the updated amounts available.