Tag Archives: libraries

Top trends in academic libraries

Creating the future for librariesI’ve just re-read the top 10 trends for academic libraries identified by the ACRL  Research Planning and Review Committee and published in: June 2012 College & Research Libraries News vol. 73 no. 6 311-320.

This document is the framework for the just released 2013 ACRL Environmental Scan.  It is interesting to compare these two to see how the focus is changing.

For those who missed it or don’t have access to the archives of ACRL News, I’ve summarized below  the top trends from the report (Please note that these top trends are not listed in order of importance but alphabetically):

 Communicating value
Academic libraries must prove the value they provide to the academic enterprise.  Librarians must be able to convert the general feelings of goodwill towards the library to effective communication to all stakeholders that clearly articulate its value to the academic community.
Data curation
Data curation challenges are increasing as standards for all types of data continue to evolve; more repositories, many of them cloud-based, has to emerge; librarians and other information workers need to collaborate with their research communities to facilitate this process.
Digital preservation
As digital collections mature, concerns grow about the general lack of long-term planning for their preservation. Local digital collections are at risk when the individual institution lacks a comprehensive preservation plan.
Higher education
Higher education institutions are entering a period of flux, and potentially even turmoil. Trends to watch for are the rise of online instruction and degree programs, globalization, and an increased skepticism of the “return on investment” in a college degree.
Information technology
Technology continues to drive much of the futuristic thinking within academic libraries. The key trends driving educational technology are equally applicable to academic libraries: people’s desire for information and access to social media and networks anytime/anywhere; acceptance and adoption of cloud-based technologies; more value placed on collaboration; ; and a new emphasis on challenge-based and active learning.
Mobile environments
Mobile devices are changing the way information is delivered and accessed. An increasing number of libraries provide services and content delivery to mobile devices.
Patron driven e-book acquisition
Patron-Driven Acquisition (PDA) of e-books is poised to become the norm. For this to occur, licensing options and models for library lending of e-books must become more sustainable.  PDA is  an inevitable trend for libraries under pressure to prove that their expenditures are in line with their value.
Scholarly communication
New scholarly communication and publishing models are developing at an ever-faster pace, requiring libraries to be actively involved or be left behind.
Academic libraries must develop the staff needed to meet new challenges through creative approaches to hiring new personnel and deploying or retraining existing staff.
User behaviors and expectations
Convenience affects all aspects of information seeking—the selection, accessibility, and use of sources. Libraries usually are not the first source for finding information. When queried, respondents describe the library as “hard to use,” “the last resort,” and “inconvenient.”

The ACRL asks the community for feedback and provides a venue to get involved and contribute to the ongoing discussion on the trends in academic libraries by participating in  OnPoint Discussion atwww.ala.org/acrl/conferences/onpoint.


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Revised Standards for Libraries in Higher Education

I came across the new Standards for Libraries in Higher Education (SLHE)  drastically revised by the Association of College and Research Libraries’ Board of Directors this past October. The new standards aim to provide a roadmap that will assist academic libraries in responding effectively to the growing pressure to demonstrate their value through evidence based means.

“These standards differ from previous version[last revised in 2004] by articulating expectations for library contributions to institutional effectiveness […] They also differ structurally from the previous version by providing a comprehensive framework using an outcomes-based approach, with evidence collected in ways most appropriate for each institution.” – said University of Nevada-Las Vegas Dean of University Libraries Patricia Iannuzzi, who chaired the SLHE task force. They are based on the following nine principles:

Institutional Effectiveness: Libraries define, develop, and measure outcomes that contribute to institutional effectiveness and apply findings for purposes of continuous improvement.
Professional Values: Libraries advance professional values of intellectual freedom, intellectual property rights and values, user privacy and confidentiality, collaboration, and user-centered service.
Educational Role: Libraries partner in the educational mission of the institution to develop and support information-literate learners who can discover, access, and use information effectively for academic success, research, and lifelong learning.
Discovery: Libraries enable users to discover information in all formats through effective use of technology and organization of knowledge.
Collections: Libraries provide access to collections sufficient in quality, depth, diversity, format, and currency to support the research and teaching missions of the institution.
Space: Libraries are the intellectual commons where users interact with ideas in both physical and virtual environments to expand learning and facilitate the creation of new knowledge.
Management/Administration: Libraries engage in continuous planning and assessment to inform resource allocation and to meet their mission effectively and efficiently.
Personnel: Libraries provide sufficient number and quality of personnel to ensure excellence and to function successfully in an environment of continuous change.
External Relations: Libraries engage the campus and broader community through multiple strategies in order to advocate, educate, and promote their value. (See the document to read more).

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Access principle on Google’s terms

The British Library has reached a deal with search engine Google to have thousands of pages from one of the world’s biggest collections of historic books, pamphlets and periodicals scanned and made available on the internet.  The project involves about 250,000 rare texts dating back to the 18th Century.

It will take a few years to complete the project and Google will cover the cost of digitization. After the project is completed, it will allow readers to view, search and copy the out-of-copyright works at no charge on both the library and Google books websites.

I find it interesting that the library chief executive, Dame Lynne Brindley, justifies the project on the basis of the core library principles saying that the scheme is an extension of the ambition of the library’s predecessors in the 19th Century to provide access to knowledge to everyone: “The way of doing it then was to buy books from the entire world and to make them available in reading rooms […] We believe that we are building on this proud tradition of giving access to anyone, anywhere and at any time. […] Our aim is to provide perpetual access to this historical material, and we hope that our collections coupled with Google’s know-how will enable us to achieve this aim.”  Google’s Director of external relations, Peter Barron, agrees: “What’s powerful about the technology available to us today isn’t just its ability to preserve history and culture for posterity, but also its ability to bring it to life in new ways.” (quoted from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13836332#story_continues_1)

I am thinking what benefit it is for the British Library to have its out of print collection scanned and available from their website if it’s going to be available through Google anyway. Then I am thinking for how long access from Google will be free… Will it be free only as long as people remember that certain out of print texts are also available from the British Library website while other texts are available from other libraries’ websites? And for how long will people actually bother accessing individual libraries’ websites if everything will be available from Google, and for how long will it be economically feasible to even maintain these websites. What will be the use of the British Library and other libraries in time when out of print texts will be accessed online through Google and electronic versions of new books will be downloaded to individual readers?

And I think about the access principle that is apparently the guiding principle behind this digitization project… In the end, it will be the few in Google and such that will hold the key to human knowledge and culture and they will provide access on their terms. There is already an unfortunate precedent for this project at the British Library. They have had already digitised a large part of their newspaper collection in partnership with JISC, and few years later made it available behind a paywall: http://newspapers11.bl.uk/blcs/. If they have closed access to their digitised newspapers, what assurance there is that they will not do the same with this new project?

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Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago

I was researching how modern research libraries are built in the last five years and came across this gem – the new Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, which opened May 16, 2011.

It houses cutting-edge facilities for preservation and digitization of physical books, as well as a high-density underground storage system with the capacity to hold 3.5 million volume equivalents.  The beautiful elliptical dome of the Mansueto Library’s Grand Reading Room is on the prime central location on campus and provides an inviting space for rigorous scholarship in an array of fields.

So this academic library is the heart of the university; however, books are stored in the basement. Then again, they are retrieved at such high speed that they can be accessed quicker than books that are shelved in open stacks.  I would also imagine that the problems with mis-shelved books are eliminated by the RFID technology.  Another thought floating in my mind is: for how long this expensive storage system will be used.  Will libraries keep physical books, or is this done only temporarily to accommodate the copyright laws?

And finally, the glass dome brings to mind scenes from science fiction movies, while the long wooden tables and simple chairs look like the ones I saw in Collegium Maius at the Jagiellonian University where Copernicus studied – conducive to collaborative learning and sharing ideas.   They seem to signal a movement away from the solitude and the isolation of carrels towards collaborative learning and knowledge generation in the common gathering place, a center of intellectual, artistic, spiritual and political life of the university.  In Copernicus’ time, the students and the professors gathered, ate at such tables and discussed ideas.  The classroom was, in fact, a kind of library with very few books that allowed food and drink and talking.  Out of that came De revolutionibus orbium celestium that began the scientific revolution.  This informal teaching and learning where discussion and questioning were encouraged, produced the bold statement that the universe is not what it seems but a subject that human mind should and can explain. 

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Building the Future of Libraries Now

I came across this sweet and uplifting video that actually gives some good and sound advice what libraries need to do to ensure their relevance in the future:

Enjoy and have faith that we can do it!

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Welcome to Infomazed!

This blog is about information, the the profusion of it and the labyrinthine way through its maze often needed to find the relevant bit, or  a glimpse of knowledge buried in this abundance.   You will find here musings of an infomazed librarian, who is simultaneously amazed at the amount and easy accessibility of information and who also finds herself sometimes lost in a search maze looking for the one meaningful and elusive fact….

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