Subject Librarian Program

The Subject Librarian Program creates a communication model between the library and academic units. A Subject Librarian works with a departmental Library Representative and the department's chair to create awareness of library services and programs and to build library collections appropriate to the programs and curriculum of the department.

Role of Subject Librarians

Subject Librarians work with one or more academic units based on the following criteria:

  • The librarian's educational experience
  • The librarian's job-related duties
  • The librarian's job-related workload
  • The demands of an academic unit placed on the Libraries

In general, assignments are made to best match a librarian's expertise with a given academic unit.

Subject librarians have three major responsibilities:

  1. Assist in effectively and appropriately expending the an academic unit’s library collection allocation.
  2. Provide reference and research assistance at the reference desk and through one-on-one consultations with faculty, students and staff.
  3. Provide instructional support by collaborating with teaching faculty to articulate information literacy-based learning objectives in the curriculum.

In meeting these responsibilities, subject librarians are expected to establish and maintain regular and frequent contact with the academic units to which they are assigned. The subject librarian's primary contacts should be the unit's library representative and the chair or director. Subject librarians should attempt to keep academic units informed of the Libraries' policies and procedures.

Regarding a subject librarian's collection development responsibilities, the following major activities may characterize this work:

  • Monitoring an academic unit's allocation
  • Assisting library representatives with bibliographic verification, selection, and ordering
  • Reviewing approval shipments, approval forms, Choice cards, publishers' catalogs and fliers, gift items, and damaged materials
  • Collaborating with other librarians in related disciplines
  • Conducting informational sessions for members of academic units
  • Working with academic units on special projects, such as serials cancellations and/or ordering, remote storage selection, and accreditation reviews that require information about library resources.

Role of the Library Representative

The library representative is responsible for working with the subject librarian to

  1. Expend the academic unit's library allocation in developing library collections appropriate to the department's program needs and
  2. Serve as a central point of communication between the library and their departmental colleagues in sharing news and information about library services and resources.

It is expected that library representatives will seek advice from colleagues and students in ordering materials for the Libraries' collections. Materials should be purchased with a view to maintaining a balance among the wide spectrum of an academic unit's curriculum and research interests. The library representative should work towards developing the collections in accordance with the goals of the academic unit. It is understood that funds are not typically available for a unit to collect comprehensively in any one subject area.

Regarding collection development, a library representative's responsibilities may include the following major activities:

  • Monitoring an academic unit's allocation
  • Ordering library materials
  • Reviewing approval shipments, approval forms, Choice cards, publishers' catalogs and fliers
  • Soliciting faculty and student suggestions for library purchases
  • Working with the Libraries on special projects, such as serials cancellations and/or ordering, remote storage selection, and accreditation reviews.


Effective communication between an academic unit and the Libraries is critical for building strong library collections and services. The library representative's primary contact in the Libraries is the subject librarian assigned to the academic unit. The subject librarian serves as the academic unit's facilitator for questions and concerns regarding the Libraries. The library representative should attempt to inform the subject librarian regarding curriculum changes, new research interests, and other developments that may impact on the desired focus or strength of the Libraries' collections.