Liaisons & Medical Libraries

Aka Article Summary #3

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, was the subject of a research project in 2012.  The university’s library structure was the subject in focus, specifically their utilization of a liaison program.  To paint the full picture for readers, the researchers open their case study’s article with quantitative data related to the program.  There were more than 19,000 faculty, staff, students and residents included within the university’s several block span.  The university possesses a medical school, health professions school, graduate school, an affiliated hospital, two semi-affiliated hospitals and a research park.  Without much explanation, it is clear that due to the great demand for information, procedures related to the dissemination of the information to departments was crucial.

The university’s library and its staff, created a liaison approach to enable their staff to sufficiently and efficiently fulfill research requests from the various departments and clients within the campus.  The program started with librarians and staff volunteering to participate in the new development.  Even during the initial stages of the new structure, it was agreed that specialization of subject areas, although desired, was not required for staff to participate in the program.  Soon after the process of establishing the liaison program, began, it was decided that a tiered approach would be used.  This means that a level of mentoring would take place by those librarians more practiced within each subject areas.  These mentors would attend initial meetings and work with amateurs within the program, to aid in research and request fulfillment during their first stages. It was also established that the liaison program would need to focus primarily on communication, user services and program evaluation in order to be successful.

As procedures and policies were developed, changes were made along the way, in order to heighten efficiency and outcomes.  Surveys were completed by staff and faculty within campus wide departments, in order to assess what impact the program was having, and what could be done to improve it.  A client contact database was created to track the interactions between liaison librarians or library staff and departmental faculty.  Liaisons made sure to attend meetings and lectures regularly, created online resources specific to their subject areas, and tailored literacy presentations to the departments they were liaisons for.  Ultimately, an entire department within the library was created due to the new liaison program – Liaison Marketing and Outreach, was its designated name.

After assessing the program developed at the University of Texas, the researchers concluded that a liaison program could be successful in a variety of library settings.  The liaison structure only enhances user experiences, better serving specific needs of departments.  A secondary benefit of the program, was that it educated those previously ignorant to library services, on all that the library and its staff could provide.




Crossno, J., DeShay, C. H., Ann Huslig, M., Mayo, H. G., & Patridge, E. F. (2012). A case study: the evolution of a ‘facilitator model’ liaison program in an academic medical library. Journal Of The Medical Library Association, 100(3), 171-175 5p. doi:10.3163/1536-5050.100.3.006