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embedded librarianship; cognitive metaphor theory; metaphors; professional discourse


In the wake of the COVID pandemic, many academic libraries sought virtual instruction options, like the embedded librarian model, bringing renewed interest to the topic. Debates defining embedded librarianship are plentiful and varied, but a review of the professional literature reveals a commonly used metaphor comparing embedded librarians to embedded journalists. This paper analyses the prevalence of that metaphor in the professional discourse through the lens of cognitive metaphor theory (CMT) to reveal the semantic and pragmatic implications of its use. CMT highlights the power of figurative language to reflect and define professional identities. The metaphor’s militaristic rhetoric counters negative stereotypes of librarians as passive or meek, while the metaphor’s combative rhetoric discloses complex power dynamics between academic librarians and faculty. However, the etymology of ‘embed’ reveals more productive definitions related to geology, computer science, and linguistics. Embracing these multiple definitions will help librarians shape that role in the future.

Publication Date


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Source Title

New Review of Academic Librarianship

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Academic Affairs


Orlando (Main) Campus


UCF Libraries



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