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Subject knowledge and library support: insights from an experience in the United States

R Kuhn


The Research Libraries Consortium (RLC) project involving three South African university libraries was established in 2006 with the aim of improving academic library support. Part of this project focused on subject librarians
through the Library Academy and an internship in research libraries in the
United States. These experiences created a realisation of the need to interrogate the roles, functions, skills and knowledge of subject librarians, subject specialists and subject experts, particularly in the South African context. Between South African and US subject librarians there exists a common core of skills, knowledge and activities, but also differences. South African subject librarians have generally developed expertise rather than subject specialisation. There is an urgent need to improve the spectrum of skills and knowledge associated with the research process, as well as subject knowledge, in order to support researchers effectively.

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eISSN: 1025-8892