Embedded Librarianship is Not Well Understood by Librarians at Chinese Universities, but Represents a Promising Service Model


A Review of:

Sun, H., Liu, Y., Wang, Z., & Zuo, W. (2019). Embedded librarianship in China: Based on a survey of university libraries. The Library Quarterly, 89(1), 53–66. https://doi.org/10.1086/700663


Objective To determine the extent to which embedded librarianship is understood and implemented with a focus on service models, best practices, and barriers.

Design – Survey questionnaire with follow up interviews.

Setting – Provincial and ministerial university libraries in China.

Subjects – Subject or liaison librarians from the 84 institutions with science and technology “information searching and evaluation centres” called S&TNS (p. 56).

Methods – The authors identified potential participants through the eligible institutions’ library websites or by contacting the library’s managers. Then they randomly selected three librarians (n = 252) from each library to be invited to participate. 56 responded from 41 unique institutions. When respondents indicated that their library had embedded library services, the authors contacted them for follow up interviews.

Main results – Results of the questionnaire revealed that most respondents were unclear about the concept of embedded librarianship with many mistaking traditional models of librarianship as embedded. Roughly half (n = 21) of respondents reported embedded librarians at their institution.

Follow up interviews revealed five models of embeddedness: (1) subject librarianship, (2) teaching information retrieval or library orientation sessions, (3) participation in research teams, (4) co-location with academic departments, and (5) assisting university administration with decision-making. Only half of these libraries (n = 11) conducted some form of assessment.

Conclusion – Embedded librarianship is a promising, but not yet widely adopted model in Chinese university libraries. More should be done to advocate for its implementation or libraries risk obsolescence.


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Author Biography

Judith Logan, University of Toronto Libraries

Assistant Head, User Services, John P. Robarts Library

How to Cite
LoganJ. (2020). Embedded Librarianship is Not Well Understood by Librarians at Chinese Universities, but Represents a Promising Service Model. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 15(2), 165-167. https://doi.org/10.18438/eblip29742
Evidence Summaries