I like the idea (there is a “but” coming). It’s like lightening round librarianship. Info-improv. You dive into the fire hose and see if you can remain standing. BUzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

What if a reference librarian was assigned to a college course, to be on hand to suggest books, online links, or other resources based on class discussion? A media-studies course at Baylor University tried the idea last semester, with an “embedded librarian” following the class discussion via Twitter.

At the start of each class session, the professor, Gardner Campbell, asked the 11 students to open their laptops, fire up Twitter, and say hello to their librarian, who was following the discussion from her office. During the hourlong class, the librarian, Ellen Hampton Filgo, would do what she refers to as “library jazz,” looking at the questions and comments posed on Twitter by the students, responding with suggestions of links or books, and anticipating what else might be helpful that students might not have known to ask.

“I could see the sort of germination of an idea, and what they wanted to talk about,” she said, noting that it let her in on the process of students’ research far sooner than usual. “That was cool for me,” she added. “When I work with students at the reference desk, usually they’re already at a certain midpoint of their research.”

BUT! how frazzled would a person be after doing that a few times a week? And what, really, is the benefit to the students who, rather than thinking deeply about the subject at hand, are instead scrambling to catch all the articles and citations being thrown at them by the librarian? I’m an information professional, not a circus monkey.

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