Towards the academic library of the future
Partner organisations collaborate to help shape the next-generation library
Key national organisations in the library field are to collaborate on a major programme of consultation to help shape the future of the academic library, it was announced today.
JISC, SCONUL, RLUK, the British Library and the Research Information Network (RIN) are to work together on a major strategic initiative which will explore the substantial challenges facing academic libraries as they respond to a period of unparalleled change in the external environment.
Workshops, studies and a combination of partnership and advocacy with key stakeholders in the higher education arena will build on existing work to develop a transformative agenda that will ensure the continuing relevance of libraries to the communities of information creators and users they serve. In particular the study will explore what is best done locally and what is best done through co-operation at national or international level.
The initiative will run over a period of two years and regular briefings and outputs will enable wider engagement. A steering group made up of senior representatives from each organisation will oversee the programme and invite experts to the workshops to consider the issues and to reach positions that will help to shape directions for academic libraries. In addition, a full communications strategy will be developed by the steering group which will include the use of Web 2.0 technologies such as wikis and blogs to ensure wider consultation. 'The time is right for us to take stock of our progress so far and to begin to shape the future together.’
It was also announced today that Derek Law, former Head of the Information Resources Directorate and Librarian of Strathclyde University, has been appointed programme consultant to oversee and lead the initiative.
Professor Law said: ‘Libraries have faced a deluge of change in the last few years and have generally adapted well to it. However the changes have been piecemeal and often local. This programme provides a significant opportunity to stand back and reflect on what has been done, what trends have been missed or misunderstood and how we should remodel our services collectively as well as individually to face the future.’
Alison Allden, Deputy Registrar and Director of Information Services at the University of Bristol and chair of JISC’s Integrated Information Environment Committee, said: ‘This initiative builds on a long history of collaboration in the academic library sphere which has seen the development of a wide range of national tools and services which have transformed the academic library over the last decade or so. But the time is right for us to take stock of our progress so far and to begin to shape the future together.’
Mark Brown, University Librarian at the University of Southampton and Chair of Research Libraries UK, said: 'Research libraries are working collaboratively with partners nationally and internationally to ensure that the UK has the best research support in the world. There has never been a more exciting time for research libraries, as we harness the power of digital content and internet technologies, and combine it with the massive resources of our libraries' print and heritage collections to empower our membership and their academic communities.'
Professor Jane Core, Director of Library and Learning Services at the University of Northumbria and Chair of SCONUL, said: ‘This programme will support institutional planning to ensure that local services add value for students and academics and reflect their changing needs. SCONUL welcomes the opportunity to work in partnership with others to consider the future vision for academic libraries at sector level, to maximise the opportunities presented by networked services and to surface the inevitable policy and leadership implications at international, national and local level.’
Michael Jubb, Director of RIN, said: ‘Digital technologies and online information resources have brought fundamental changes in how research is done, and also in what researchers expect from library and information services. Effective services, at both national and institutional levels, are an essential underpinning for success in research. This programme will help to ensure that library and information services keep pace with the evolving needs of researchers.’
Dr Joanna Newman, acting Head of Higher Education, British Library, said: ‘This programme will help ensure that the higher education sector can find new and innovative ways to connect researchers with content and ensure services remain relevant and reach out to new generations of users.’
For further information, please go contact: Derek Law at email@example.com or 141 548 4997