“Embedded librarianship” isn’t a term we hear a whole lot in K-12 schools. It’s most prevalent in medical librarianship, in which a medical librarian might join a medical team for discussions or even rounds, providing research and information as needed to solve cases, diagnoses, and problems facing the team. It’s far more integrated than a librarian working out of a medical library, as the team gets to know one another and the librarian becomes part of the everyday, quotidian way of doing business. Nobody has to make an effort to contact the librarian, because the librarian is right there in the team already.
One of my student teachers once did a three-week stint in a classroom (every afternoon, for most of the afternoon) project we might call embedded. While the teacher was the lead instructor, the ST was there to support, give mini-lessons as needed, conference with students, etc. The work happened very much in the classroom, very much under the teacher’s leadership — but would very much have had less depth had the ST not been there.
It’s something to consider as we continue to look for ways to share our knowledge in what is increasingly a classroom-centered ecosystem with classroom-accessed digital resources. It’s also a kind of power shift … not a loss of power, but a different kind of power. There’s something about being in the teacher’s own classroom that puts you right where the learning is without the learning being disrupted by moving to a lab or library. And that’s powerful.
Here’s an example from The Chronicle of Higher Education of how a college class, Twitter, and an academic librarian at her desk worked together in a third version of embedded librarianship.
Might school librarians attempt something similar? Maybe Twitter is blocked in your school, but could you have privileges in a class Blackboard or Moodle site? It’s certainly an option to consider for librarians who want to be helpful at the center of learning.