A Mixed-Method Study of Undergraduate and First Year Librarian Positions in Academic Libraries in the United States

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5 Scopus citations


The aim of this study is to better understand the prevalence, scope, and unique challenges of undergraduate and first year librarians over the last decade, through the use of quantitative and qualitative data from job listings, online surveys, and phone interviews. The findings indicate that there is very little consensus about what the undergraduate librarian does, how the work is structured on a daily basis, and how its goals are negotiated and assessed. Further, undergraduate librarians face a number of issues, including navigating vaguely defined responsibilities, establishing their professional credibility, and communicating their role within the library and to the university. Survey participants reported experiencing tension between the traditional (reference, instruction, collection development) and undergraduate-specific aspects of their duties, indicating that it is difficult for them to prioritize engagement and outreach. While the literature on blended librarianship anticipates some of these issues, undergraduate librarians are unique because they provide an intersection between broader higher education priorities and the academic library. The author stipulates that the lack of definition, strain, and the perception of undergraduate librarianship as an entry-level position is incongruent with the importance colleges and universities place on undergraduate student success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-215
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Academic Librarianship
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Library and Information Sciences


  • Ambiguity
  • Blended librarianship
  • Employment
  • Entry-level positions
  • First year librarians
  • Job advertisements
  • Library and Information Science (LIS) profession
  • Outreach
  • Professional credibility
  • Public services
  • Trends in higher education
  • Undergraduate librarians
  • Undergraduate student services


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