ACRL Liaison Guidelines and Tips

Keep in mind the three goals of your liaison appointment:

  1. Become a visible and respected member of the organization.
  2. Promote the concept of library resources and services as a valuable means for accomplishing the priorities of the liaison organization and its membership. This will be accomplished through regularly scheduled programming, articles in the organization's publications, and/or service on key committees. REMEMBER: You are not there to promote libraries per sé nor are you there to get the organization to focus on library issues. You are there to help people understand the value added asset libraries can be to whatever it is they want to accomplish.
  3. Model effective partnerships between you (as a librarian) and other professionals

To accomplish the above, the following are some practical suggestions based upon successful liaison experiences.

Getting Started:

  • Learn as much as you can about the organization and gain an understanding of the responsibilities required.
  • Contact the previous liaison if possible to gather information on the organization, key members, and their personal accomplishments and/or strategies. Get reports if possible.
  • Ask the previous liaison or ACRL to send a note to introduce you and your new role to the president and executive director of the organization.
  • Gather information from their website. This could include mission statements, goals, how the organization is structured, publications, communications, how officers are appointed (term lengths) and what committees it has.
  • Keep a file with pertinent information and due dates. Reflect on challenges and goals and throughout the year.  This will help you with your reporting.
  • Find out when the National Conferences are held and deadlines for program submissions and mark them on your calendar.
  • Gather deadlines for required reports from the LCC Chair and the webpage. Also mark these on your calendar.
  • Read the ACRL Liaison Interviews.
  • Read the ACRL Plan for Excellence and begin strategizing how your goals, objectives, and plans align with this document and ACRL section goals.
  • Learn about ACRL’s liaison support committees.

Section Responsibilities:

  • Contact your section chair to determine how often, in what format, the executive committee would like you to report. Suggestions include submitting your formal ACRL report once a year, oral or written reports at Annual and Midwinter Conferences, and a written item for the section newsletter. You should also consider notifying section members via the electronic mailing list or ALA Connect announcements about programs and national conference dates.
  • This will need to be done each year or as executive committees’ membership rosters change.

When you plan a program:

  • Make sure it focuses on a major conference theme.
  • Include people on the program who are not librarians (e.g., a faculty member, a provost and a librarian).
  • Structure an interactive discussion based a list of questions agreed upon before the conference. Serve as or have someone else play the role of a facilitator who summarizes and comments on agreements, differences of opinions, trends, etc.
  • Allow time for questions from the floor and for a final brief thought from each of the panelists.

Before, During, and After the Conference:


  • Create new relationships with members via electronic mailing lists and other communication methods before the conference.
  • Before the conference, strategize whom you want to meet and what you want to accomplish. Be deliberate in this process. Ask key members which sessions they think you should attend and if possible, attend a leadership meeting.
  • Re-read the tips to determine relationships between ACRL and your section
  • Bring your business cards!


  • Share your passion and enthusiasm with others.
  • When members are asked for ideas/suggestions, be sure to provide some.
  • Don’t wait to be sought out. Volunteer! A particularly good way to get involved is to volunteer to write up notes from meetings or discussion groups putting you in a pivotal position to interact with leaders and to contribute library-related benefits in the report.
  • Use your meal and other free times for networking with target liaison group instead of librarians.
  • Take notes on the back of calling cards or in a notebook during the day so you are able to follow-up with correspondences.
  • If you get appointed to chair a task force or committee, try to have one informal meeting of the members before leaving the conference at which you are appointed. This early jump-start will allow your group to be productive with less effort.


  • Follow-up with emails to those whom you met, calling to mind something from your discussion with a hope to meet again.
  • Send notes if appropriate to selected speakers and; if possible, include a library related article which relates to the program topic. The goal is to facilitate dialogue and or encourage a joint venue or publication. 
  • Report back to your ACRL section chair.

When you plan an article:

  • Focus the article on a topic of high concern to the organization.
  • Promote joint authorship between a librarian (yourself or someone you recruit) and a professional from the organization’s primary membership group. This provides greater credibility and models partnering between librarians and people in their profession.
  • Be prepared to happily do ¾ of the work and give away ¾ of the credit; i.e., have a heavy-duty up-front consultation with the co-author about the article topic and a draft outline of the paper. Be willing to do the first draft if appropriate.
  • After the article is published, encourage the subsequent highlighting of the article at both meetings of ACRL (or other library organization) and at national or state level meetings of the organization to which you are liaison. People who have read the article will be interested to learn more from “the experts.” The partnering model is highlighted, AND the non-librarians partner gains in commitment to libraries/librarians, which increases the possibility that they become an advocate for libraries in the future.
  • Keep in mind that the article, with some revision, might also be appropriate for publication in a higher education and/or library journal. Keep joint authorship in place.


  • Each year assess your yearly goals and objectives by completing the ACRL Liaison Report and Evaluation Template.
  • Consider writing a piece for the ACRL Insider. In an effort to inform ACRL members about the breadth of work you do as a liaison you are encouraged to submit a work summary to the ACRL Insider. This is not meant to create more work, but rather highlight your accomplishments and activities and promote your hard work. Text can be gathered from your Liaison Report and submitted to the ACRL Insider Editor through email. The work you do is valuable, so consider promoting it!

If you get discouraged:

  • Remember it takes a while to develop relationships, so be patient. ACRL does not expect immediate results.
  • Confer with other liaisons (see the ACRL Liaisons Connect Community), the Liaison Training and Development Committee Chair, and/or the ACRL Board members and staff. They know how important your outreach efforts are and can help. 

From the ACRL’s Guide to Policy and Procedures

5.16 Use of ACRL's Name
NOTE: The Board of Directors is the voice for the association. Sections, committees, and other established units are not authorized to speak for the association except through the Board. This is to say that unit leaders should refrain from issuing statements, taking positions, or endorsing any statements or positions except with Board approval.