As more libraries focus on relationships and learning rather than being the warehouses of "things," librarians are exploring how they can more effectively offer instructional services to meet the needs of their learning communities.
As libraries shift their focus from being warehouses of books and materials to being places of learning and participatory sites of culture in their respective communities, librarians are reframing their roles to reflect these changes. As librarians seek to raise their profile as instructional partners and mentors for learning, many are revisiting the model of embedded librarianship, a model that "takes a librarian out of the context of the traditional library and places him or her in an 'on-site' setting or situation that enables close coordination and collaboration with researchers or teaching faculty." (1) When librarians are able to embed themselves in a learning community, they are able to "demonstrate their expertise as information specialists and to apply this expertise in ways that will have a direct and deep impact on the research, teaching, or other work being done. Through embedded librarianship, librarians move from a supporting role into partnerships with their clientele, enabling librarians to develop stronger connections and relationships with those they serve." (2)
I would argue that contemporary and emerging forms of embedded librarianship go beyond demonstrating librarians' expertise and instead seek to "distribute" the library by helping novice learners (students) build expertise and to position the learning community in which they are embedded as a participatory site of culture. (3) Additionally, embedded librarianship should do more than help convey information to students; it should help students master literacies, processes, and skills that are part of what Dr. James Gee calls passionate affinity-based learning. What does this kind of learning look like in a physical or virtual learning environment or some combination of the two? According to Gee, passionate affinity-based learning transpires when "people …