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Objective: This study explores the root causes that undermine successful collaborations between scientists and their library liaisons to improve outreach to this population.

Methods: This paper uses the Five Whys Technique to explore the reasons why many scientists are unaware of the breadth of services offered by liaison librarians. Existing outreach strategies that address these obstacles are interpreted through the lens of implementation science theories and process models, including Normalization Process Theory.

Results: A total of four recommendations—two for liaison librarians and two for libraries as institutions—are provided to enhance the perceived value of liaison services. The recommendations for individuals include aiming to understand scientists’ needs more comprehensively and actively increasing the visibility of services that respond to those needs. Those for libraries focus on cross-functional teams and new forms of assessment.

Conclusions: These recommendations emphasize the benefits of collaboration to liaisons, to library programs at large, and to the faculty that liaisons serve. Implementation science can help librarians to understand why certain outreach strategies bring success, and how new services can be implemented more effectively.


liaison librarians, science librarians, implementation science, translational research, normalization, library outreach


Acknowledgements: We thank Dr. Suzie Allard and Amy Forrester for their support and assistance. Funding Statement: This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services RE-13-19-0027-19. The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Corresponding Author

Claire Jordan, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, School of Information Sciences, 1345 Circle Park Dr., 451 Communications Building, Knoxville, TN 37996 USA; cjorda40@vols.utk.edu

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