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Who Educates the Educators? The Research Support Ambassador Programme at Cambridge University

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Sewell, CE 


The nature of the academic library is undergoing a fundamental shift as librarians move from traditional roles as the gatekeepers of information to the disseminators of the research outputs of their institutions. This offers a unique opportunity for librarians to move into research support roles and for libraries to strengthen their relationship with the research community. However in order to take full advantage of these opportunities library staff need to develop their information literacy skills in the emerging area of scholarly communication. The Research Support Ambassador (RSA) Programme works to address this need and equip staff to work in a modern academic library. Cohorts of participants receive targeted training in areas such as open access and research data management via blended learning. In addition they develop their information and digital literacy skills by working in small groups to produce a tangible training output to be shared with the library community. The Programme has recently completed its second run and has so far produced around thirty-five Ambassadors. These participants are now able to work confidently in their own libraries to provide point of need support to the research community. At the same time they have improved their knowledge of the scholarly communication landscape and their own information literacy skills.

The RSA Programme has resulted in the development of information literacy skills for both participants and organisers. The importance of having someone in place to lead a project like this and the value of continuous evaluation cannot be underestimated. This paper will showcase the lessons learnt during the project and how they can be applied by others looking to implement similar programmes for staff or students.



research support, scholarly communication, librarianship, library science

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LILAC 2017

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