In the 1990s and early 2000s, the liaison model in academic librarianship developed around three roles: reference services, instructional services and collection development, with collection management being the core around which the other two roles are organised. This liaison model of academic librarianship is closely tied to the model of the academic library as the gateway to the collection and hence to the knowledge encoded within it. However, these explicit functional roles (reference, instruction, collection) mask a communicational role which is likely to be of far greater importance going forward: relationship building. The building of relationships is the nexus or linking principle of an engagement model. The engagement model enables an emerging field of practice to be recognised, whereby those engaged in liaison may develop their roles through an ever-deepening engagement with learning practices at several levels: the development of academic learning, teaching and research; organisational learning and organisational development; and institutional learning and institutional development. The practical implications of an engagement model for higher education institutions are explored, from the perspective of the University of Westminster
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