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Library and Information Science Paper (ID LIS071027)

Subject Librarians of College and University Libraries in the United States of America
No.71, p.27-50
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Purpose: This paper describes the history, current situation and roles of subject librarians in col-lege and university libraries in the United States of America.

Methods: First, through a review of the literature, the history of subject librarians and related experts in university libraries of the United States was clarified. Second, in order to examine the current situation and working circumstances of subject librarians, the websites of some university libraries were checked. More specifically, lists of subject librarians were found on websites and analyzed to compare their roles between types or categories of university.

Results: In the early days, subject librarians appeared in the United States to deploy the subject divisional plan and to promote area studies in universities. It became clear that the status of sub-ject librarians had become well established by the 1960s as the task of selecting books shifted from faculty members to librarians, due to the postwar increase in the number of students and publications. The subject librarians usually were responsible for collection development, reference services, research consulting, library instruction, and liaison service. Since the 1980s, the selection of electronic resources, chat reference and so on were added as new tasks due to the appearance of the online environment and electronic resources. This survey found that the system of subject librarians has been adopted by most libraries at research universities, but small- or medium-size libraries tend to have liaison librarians serving only individual departments.

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