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A survey concerning perceptions of academic librarians was conducted at a large, 4-year university with three populations: librarians, faculty, and undergraduate students. The high response rate and the use of an instrument based on previous studies offers the possibility of longitudinal comparison and the identification of relationships between groups within one environment. This article focuses specifically on academic librarian perceptions about what librarians know (expertise and skills), what librarians do (role and duties), and what librarians are like (motivations and affective behaviours). Twenty librarians employed in James Madison University Libraries responded to an online survey (62.5% response rate); four follow-up interviews and card sorts were conducted later to provide context to the data. Results have implications for libraries specifically in the areas of outreach, instruction, management, and collaboration. Differences in the responses of liaison and non-liaison groups are not generalizable to the population, but patterns were found that suggest future research in this area should include examination of differences related to the type of librarianship or focus on specific aspects of librarianship. Subsequent articles will situate these findings with those from surveys of faculty and undergraduate students and discuss implications for practice.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in the journal New Review of Academic Librarianship on May 7, 2020, available online:



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