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Toolkit for Library Liaisons

UTA Libraries Liaison Model

The UTA Libraries faculty and student liaison program is integral to the Libraries’ mission to foster student academic and professional success and faculty excellence. Our liaisons are ambassadors to our faculty and students through consultations, proactive communication, outreach, digital guides, and classroom instruction.

There are liaisons from across library departments connecting to every college, school, and academic department at the University of Texas at Arlington. Some liaisons’ work supports a cluster of departments and/or disciplines, while other liaisons focus their efforts on one or two departments. Regardless of the scope of their liaison assignment, these colleagues work collaboratively to enable faculty and students to engage with and benefit from the rich collections, services, programs, and spaces available through UTA Libraries.

To establish a strong and supportive liaison program, in Spring 2021, Libraries’ administration formed the Liaison Leadership Committee (LLC) to re-envision what it means to be a successful liaison in UTA Libraries. The LLC placed strong emphasis on soliciting feedback from colleagues throughout the Libraries: liaisons, directors, department heads, and Libraries’ administration. The result of these interviews and focus groups is this document—which, we believe, reflects best practices in liaison work and has been crafted to advance the Libraries’ strategic priorities. The LLC is also committed to elevating the work liaisons engage in to improve morale and highlight their achievements. 

The purpose of this document is to serve as a framework for liaisons working within UTA Libraries. It is not intended to be comprehensive in all necessary liaison fluencies, but rather describe a set of baseline expectations and support on which UTA Libraries’ liaisons can base their work.  Furthermore, the LLC recognizes that the scope of these fluencies may seem overwhelming, but liaisons are not expected to immediately become experts in all areas.  Part of liaisonship is continued professional development, and we are committed to providing information and training to assist liaisons in cultivating these skills.

Liaison Fundamentals

We believe successful liaisons:

  • Reflect the Libraries’ Guiding Principles in their work:
    • We Care
    • We Empower
    • We Take Ownership
    • We Are Extraordinary
  • Customize service offerings to students and faculty
  • Are engaged, proactive, and offer a responsive liaison service on campus and virtually
  • Partner with faculty and instructors to embed themselves into courses in support of learning goals
  • Implement scaffolded integration of active/experiential teaching and learning techniques
  • Promote multiple academic and professional literacies
  • Conduct reference interviews, help students develop information/data/maker literacy skills, teach others
  • Are aware of the primary databases and other resources for their disciplines.
  • Embed themselves in the faculty research cycle within their disciplines
  • Engage in ongoing faculty communication using a multipronged approach including:
    • Attending faculty programs and departmental meetings
    • Actively communicating with faculty about their research, teaching, and other professional activities
    • Using multiple methods, including interviews, focus groups, or surveys, to deepen understanding of faculty needs and challenges
  • Proactively engage in a collegial atmosphere where liaisons support one another, especially those whose disciplines are closely aligned
    • Including partnering with other liaisons, creating teams to have a backup system and help balance workloads, etc.
  • Collaboratively build internal processes that streamline workflows
  • Conduct on-going assessment of goals, data, evaluation results, and discipline needs including both quantitative and qualitative methods
  • Partner with the Libraries’ Marketing and Communications department to develop a communications and marketing strategy
  • Participate in student and faculty events and programs sponsored by UTA Libraries
  • Advocate for OER and other affordability initiatives for students, open scholarship, and opportunities for practicing creative skills
  • Actively participate in liaison meetings to share best practices, challenges, cross-train, etc.
  • Feel competent and confident in their abilities
    • To that end, liaisons attend professional development opportunities offered both internally (University, Libraries) and externally (professional organizations, vendor trainings, etc) to enhance and enrich the knowledge needed to be successful.
  • Partner with colleagues across library departments to extend the services and competencies of liaisons though collaborative support for students and faculty, including:
    • Joint consultations
    • Shared teaching among liaisons or between a liaison and other library colleagues
    • Partnership in development and support of programs
    • Development of specialized competencies related to the range of library services for students and faculty
    • Creation of a shared teaching program for liaisons for development of specialized competencies

Departmental Fluencies for Liaisons

The Libraries' overarching goals are represented in multiple departments, but the strategies to meet those goals differ based on departmental structure and responsibilities. Thus, some goals are reflected in more than one department. This is intentional to ensure transparency between departments and to provide deeper understanding for the liaisons.

Baseline Fluencies: OER

Liaisons are expected to understand fundamental concepts of Open Educational Resources (OER) and promote OER to faculty in their subject area.

Whenever possible, OER should be offered during faculty course material consultations as a first option before resorting to commercial resources.

Understand and articulate to faculty in their subject area:

  • What open educational resources are on a basic level
  • The differences between OER and Open Access materials
  • The benefits of OER as related to student success, affordability, and the Libraries’ strategic plan
  • How to find OER in relevant subject area
  • How to report course material usage, as well as the importance of reporting

Baseline Fluencies: Open Access

Liaisons are expected to proactively embed themselves in the faculty research cycle to collaborate with faculty members and promote Open Access (OA) publishing.

Liaisons should develop knowledge surrounding copyright and how it relates to OA publishing, teaching, scholarship, and research.

Understand and articulate to faculty in their subject area:

  • What OA is on a basic level
  • The benefits of OA
  • Existing OA journals, including those OA journals that have ‘transformative agreements’ in place, and Libraries programs related to their liaison subject area
  • How OA relates to and affects publishing in their discipline
  • The OA publishing services provided by the Library (e.g. UTA ResearchCommons, OA Journal Publishing Platforms, Interview Viewers based on OHMS (Oral History Metadata Synchronizer system), etc.)

Additional essential skills include:

  • Identifying faculty members’ and students’ OA scholarship in their discipline
  • Locating and citing public domain and Creative Commons-licensed content in their discipline
  • Learning about OA and government mandates

Baseline Fluencies: Experiential Learning & Outreach (ELO)

Baseline Competencies for Teaching & Learning

The ability to:

  • Communicate the role of Libraries staff as teaching partners
  • Determine shared learning objectives with subject faculty and develop curricula that meets these shared objectives
  • Employ active learning strategies in all instruction modalities
  • Provide instruction via multiple modalities: in-person, online, and hybrid; synchronous and asynchronous
  • Extend opportunities for student learning outside formal instruction sessions, including but not limited to:
    • Consultation
    • Course guides
    • Discussion groups
  • Engage in formative assessment of student learning

Baseline Competencies for Outreach Related to ELO – Teaching & Learning Cluster

The ability to:

  • Explain what experiential learning is
  • Articulate the benefits of project-based learning and student reflection, as well as how the Libraries can partner with faculty to incorporate these things into their courses
  • Identify subject faculty receptive to engaging their students with project-based learning and connect them to ELO librarians who can collaborate in this process
  • Connect faculty and students to experiential learning events and activities that may be relevant to their teaching/learning

Baseline Competencies for Outreach Related to ELO – Services and Spaces

The ability to:

  • Promote creative technologies and spaces provided by ELO: The Studios, The Basement, and technology lending
  • Promote consultation services provided by ELO: digital media arts creation, robotics, electronics, and game development
  • Explain circulation policies for print materials and technologies
  • Articulate the relationship between student engagement and sense of community and student persistence and retention, including how the Libraries’ services, spaces, and events contribute to these things

Baseline Fluencies: Marketing + Communications

Liaisons will understand the fundamental concepts and services of marketing communications. Whenever possible, liaisons should partner with Marketing and Communications when creating and executing communication plans with faculty that promote partnerships with liaisons and the Libraries.

Some questions that liaisons should be able to answer related to M+C include:

  • What is marketing?
  • What is the difference between marketing and promotion?
  • When should a liaison partner with marketing and communication?

Additionally, liaisons should:

  • Understand the full services provided by the Marketing and Communications department
  • Be able to identify the goals of communication with faculty and how marketing and communications can help achieve those goals

Baseline Fluencies: Access & Discovery (A&D)

The ability to:

  • Work with A&D to ensure successful access and discovery of disciplinary resources
  • Familiarize oneself with disciplinary resources and communicate resources needed to A&D
  • Engage faculty/departments about acquisitions initiatives and partnerships to better sustain acquisitions budget

Baseline Fluencies: Interlibrary Loan

Liaisons will understand and be able to communicate that Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is available any time materials are needed but not held by the UTA Libraries. This service is available to all academic units and departments, including students, faculty, and staff.


Key information to understand includes:

  • What ILL is
  • How to register for an ILLiad account
  • How to place requests for materials online

Key services provided by ILL to understand includes:

  • Borrows, obtains, and delivers materials not already be held by UTA Libraries
  • Provides access to materials owned by the UTA Libraries for faculty and graduate students locally
  • Supports distance learners and programs
  • Provides individualized support to accommodate disabilities and other specialized circumstances
  • Provides links to Open Access and Open Educational Resources
  • Does not borrow textbooks and related course materials that are available from the UTA Bookstore or another vendor

Baseline Fluencies: Government Documents

UTA Libraries is part of the Federal Depository Library Program. As a depository library, we receive publications from federal departments and agencies covering just about any subject or discipline.

Key information for liaisons to know includes:

  • Government sources are especially helpful for finding data and statistics.
  • Most of our government publications are in the library catalog in electronic format.
  • Government information can be searched at and
  • There is a government documents subject guide at:

Baseline Fluencies: Special Collections

Liaisons will acquire and maintain a basic understanding of the breadth and types of collections held in Special Collections (SPCO), as well as general awareness of SPCO’s facility and services hours.

Plus, the ability to:

  • Collaborate with SPCO for instruction sessions
  • Use finding aids
  • Communicate SPCO’s availability to researchers on-site and remotely
  • Partner with the appropriate subject matter experts in SPCO to locate primary source material
  • Help make SPCO’s work and collections more visible
    • Contributions that can be added to the liaison toolkit are links to the Digital Gallery and several LibGuides on African Americans, Latin and Mexican Americans, Portal to Texas History, maps, Ft. Worth photographs, UTA Archives, etc.

Baseline Fluencies: Assessment

Liaisons will work with the Director of Assessment, Andy Herzog, as well as a variety of assessment reports and tools to understand our users, connect to the Libraries’ strategic plan, evaluate goals, and demonstrate impact.

Liaisons will also be able to embed data collection practices into their work.

Baseline Fluencies: FabLab

Liaisons will be knowledgeable about the core capabilities of the FabLab and will promote use of the FabLab to faculty in their subject area, identifying interested faculty and partnering with FabLab staff for further collaboration.

Liaisons should be familiar with the types of Maker assignments that have been conducted in their subject area, the learning outcomes developed, and the impact that making has on student learning.

Ways to educate faculty in a subject area about the FabLab include:

  • Learning what tools and software are available in the FabLab
  • Understanding the differences between FabLab and Studio services
  • Explaining what experiential learning is, how it is applicable within the curriculum regardless of discipline, and how it contributes to student success and the Libraries’ strategic plan
  • Knowing how to access the FabLab
    • Note: there are differences in general use access vs. access to the Shop Room
  • Having a general understanding of what materials are provided at cost
  • Understanding the consultation services that the FabLab provides
    • Learners do not have to know how to use tools before they come to the FabLab – we are there to teach them!
  • Understanding Maker Literacies and how faculty and liaisons can partner with the FabLab to develop curriculum
  • Articulating the relationship between student engagement and sense of community and student persistence and retention, including how the Libraries’ services, spaces, and events contribute to these things

Baseline Fluencies: Research and Data Services

Liaisons will be able to explain the ways in which research data are being used in their subject area. Whenever relevant, data services (either the email address or the webpage with listed services and a “Make an Appointment” link) should be offered to faculty, staff, and students working with, teaching, or learning to use data.

Liaisons should be able to:

  • Describe what a data repository is and how it benefits researchers and the community at large
  • Promote the following resources to students, faculty, and staff:
    • The dataCAVE
    • Mavs Dataverse
    • DAVis video tutorials and workshops
    • The Data Portal
  • Assist students, faculty, and staff with finding data in their subject area
  • Offer teachers information about how data services’ staff can speak to their classes about data literacy competencies
  • Share with researchers that Research and Data Services staff can help with use of data tools

Baseline Fluencies: Scholarly Impact and Digital Identity

Liaisons will understand and promote the benefits of:

  • Bibliometrics
  • Alternative metrics
  • Tenure and promotion process
  • Primary types of metrics (author level, article level, journal level) and how to find scholarly ID's (ORCID) and how to use them
  • Promote UTA ResearchCommons
  • Google Scholar, Digital Measures, Publish or Perish, Web of Science, Cabell's etc., which are all resources for scholarly impact work
  • Journal impact factor and quartile system and be able to work with faculty to help them publish in the best journals they can while still promoting OA
  • Importance to their specific discipline when it comes to research, publishing, and scholarship
    • Example: Is publishing in Q1 journals the most important or is publishing books more desirable?
  • Outreach to their faculty to work with them to disseminate their scholarship more broadly

Baseline Fluencies: Copyright

Liaisons will understand the fundamental concepts of copyright and how it relates to their subject area, including:

  • What copyright is.
  • How copyright relates to, and affects, the teaching, scholarship, and research in their discipline, both face-to-face and in the online classroom
  • The benefits of Fair Use as it relates to the student creators and faculty creators in their discipline
  • The meaning of copyright ownership and how to manage one’s own copyrights
  • Informing faculty and students about UTA and UT System Intellectual Property Policies

Baseline Fluencies: Publishing (General)

Liaisons will work to:

  • Understand the current system of publishing in higher education
  • Understand why publishing is important at UTA, as a designated R-1 Doctoral University with Very High Research Activity
  • Understand and articulate what the past and current state of publishing looks like within the discipline
    • This will be different from one discipline to the next.
  • Understand and articulate the availability of different kinds of material for faculty’s and students’ reuse in new publications, including:
    • Libraries’ subscription content
    • Special Collections’ collections
    • Works in the public domain
    • Creative Commons-licensed works

Baseline Fluencies: Digital Creation 


Liaison will have general knowledge of Digital Scholarship practices and familiarity with Digital Creations services.  

    • Provide appropriate referrals to digital collections and resources to support digital scholarship projects. 

    • Familiarity with digitization practices, software, and equipment to increase awareness. 

    • Promote use and discovery of Digital Collections.  

    • Outreach with respective departments to encourage collaborative digital projects.