20 Jun 2013

Academics and their ideas about library services

Back in 2012, Ithaka S+R joined up with Jisc and Research Libraries UK (RLUK) to find out about UK higher education academics’ attitudes and behaviours in the realms of research, teaching, and scholarly communication.

Essentially, this large-scale study offers a broad bird’s-eye view on the multi-layered activities of academics in the higher education field. These include peoples’ approaches to resource discovery and content access, opinions on print-to-electronic format transitions, research methods and practices, publishing and research communication as well as undergraduate instruction.

The perceived role and value of the academic library was also addressed, the core observation to which I will briefly point out here.

As an aside, the survey’s target population was drawn from different sources, such as the A-mail Academic database, and included UK based academics that were identified as ‘Head of Department/Faculty’, ‘Professor’, ‘Lecturer’, ‘Associate Professor’, ‘Director’, ‘Researcher’, and ‘Reader’. In November 2012, 45,809 individuals were sampled and invited by email to participate. In the end, 3,498 completed surveys were returned (a response rate of approx. 7.9%) covering the disciplines of Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, Sciences and Medical/Veterinary.

So where does the library feature in the respondents’ respective orbits of academic activity? The survey authors identified six broad areas of library activities, and asked the survey participants to identify how important these activities are to them.

The academic library acts as...
  • Buyer: “The library pays for resources I need, from academic journals to books to electronic databases”
  • Archive: “The library serves as a repository of resources; in other words, it archives, preserves, and keeps track of resources”
  • Undergraduate support: “The library helps undergraduates develop research, critical analysis, and information literacy skills”
  • Teaching support: “The library supports and facilitates my teaching activities”
  • Gateway: “The library serves as a starting point or ‘gateway’ for locating information for my research”
  • Research support: “The library provides active support that helps to increase the productivity of my research”
Note that the six roles above are not exhaustive. They merely represent a broad perception set (for example, the important role libraries play in the support of open access publishing is not specifically covered).

The following perceptions were recorded:

Thus far, libraries still seem to play a role for the 21st century academic.

The full report can be accessed here.

Ithaka S+R
RLUK (Research Libraries UK)


Post a Comment