The art of asking and answering: Events, things, and librarianship in the disciplines
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This essay, which is primarily addressed to academic liaison/subject librarians, considers the degree to which the economically-centered rhetoric of resource production, distribution, and consumption – a language that centers librarianship on the management of things – has pervaded the institutions and practices of modern academic subject librarianship. Drawing on sources in history, literature, and philosophy, the discussion then seeks to recover and restore our sense of library resources as acts of communication between human beings, and proposes an alternate language to help structure and direct the practice of librarianship at a crucial juncture in the history of higher education. This proposed language views librarianship in particular, and intellectual life in general, as a meaningful network of events. The argument concludes by proposing a number of core functions for liaison/subject librarians to develop as they adapt the proposed new viewpoint to the intellectual life of their respective institutions.