13 Sept 2012

2012 Top Ten Trends in Academic Libraries

The Association of College & Research Libraries continuously scan for trends in academic librarianship and higher education. To do this they attend conferences, review the literature and contact experts in the field. Recently, they held a discussion forum to discuss these trends and come up with the most important trends affecting academic libraries today.The complete article can be found here.
Communicating Value
In these uncertain times, this trend appears likely to continue for some time. Funding bodies need to be given better reasons to support libraries. Possible ways they can do this are highlighting the correlation between library material usage with student grades and how library resources contribute to student and faculty success.

Data Curation
The ACRL predict more repositories will emerge and many of them will be cloud based. Librarians will have a role in helping research committees design and implement a plan for data description, efficient storage and management.

Digital Preservation
Many collections of rare or special content are being digitised. One worrying trend is that there is often the lack of a comprehensive preservation plan. Institutions are only beginning to realise that investing in digital collections requires an infrastructure to protect this content long term. Similarly, the management of born-digital content is also becoming a concern with parent institutions often not seeing the value in planning for the collection and management of such content.

Information Technology
Student's desire to access social media and information anytime/anywhere, their acceptance of cloud based technology, and a new emphasis on challenge-based and active learning are all trends that impact libraries. New publishing paradigms such as open content challenge the library's role as curator. Game-based learning are mid term drivers of change while gesture-based computing as well as the Internet of Things (ubiquitous computing) are longer term drivers. 

Mobile Environments
A short term driver of changing the way library services are delivered and accessed in academic libraries are mobile devices. The EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research found that two-thirds of students use mobile devices for academic work. The likes of EBSCOhost, JSTOR and Thomson Reuters have developed mobile interfaces and apps. Some colleges have replaced print textbooks and replaced them with tablets preloaded with course materials.

Patron Driven ebook Acquisition
This seems like an inevitable trend for libraries trying to cut expenditure. Academic libraries will start to jettison physical books with low circulation in favour of licensing agreements with ebook vendors that will enable libraries only to buy books that are in high demand. Primarily this is about efficiencies but can also be seen to be libraries aligning the library with the demonstrated demand of students.

According to a survey from 2011, staff development and personnel are the top workplace issues for academic librarians. Data curation, digital resource management, scholarly communication and support for faculty instruction are all identified as areas that new skills sets are needed in.

User Behaviours and Expectations
The ACRL have found that for students, libraries are not the first source for finding information. With the rise of Google, libraries are now competing for user attention. One way in which librarians can compete with their competitors is increasing their convenience. Convenient access to resources is still the most critical factor for students. As well as increasing their face to face availability, librarians can also increase their virtual help via instant messaging, social media and chat reference.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting Ronan. I know they are ordered alphabetically but it is nice to see Communicating Value listed first, as I think this is possibly a key issue right now. Libraries/librarians often have no problem listing off the value they bring to the table, but how we can communicate this is something entirely different and involves using different techniques and approaches for different audiences (our users; management; staff etc.)

    PDA is also an interesting one - I have read a few papers on this recently, including one from SCONUL Focus (can't remember the ref right now, sorry!) and it seems to be a very costly concept. In many cases, the budgets that libraries have set aside have been used up far more quickly than anticipated. But one to watch for the future, even if the model needs to be tweaked a lot (e.g. higher thresholds for triggering a purchase). However, some of the purists may feel it threatens the librarian's collection development role (or perhaps even makes it redundant?).