Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2012 top ten trends in academic libraries


A review of the trends and issues affecting academic libraries in higher education

ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee

The ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee is responsible for creating and updating a continuous and dynamic environmental scan for the association that encompasses trends in academic librarianship, higher education, and the broader environment.
These top trends include: 

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, will emerge; librarians and other information workers will collaborate with their research communities to facilitate this process.

Data curation presents opportunities for “finding new ways to communicate the value of the skills librarians already possess and in developing roles that were previously not associated with librarians.”11 Librarians and information workers have a vital role to play in helping their research communities design and implement a plan for data description, efficient storage, management, and reuse. Several discipline data repositories already exist, and include librarians as principal collaborators.
Digital preservation
As digital collections mature, concerns grow about the general lack of long-term planning for their preservation. No strategic leadership for establishing architecture, policy, or standards for creating, accessing, and preserving digital content is likely to emerge in the near term.
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. Shifts in the higher education surround will have an impact on libraries in terms of expectations for development of collections, delivery of collections and services for both old and new audiences, and in terms of how libraries continue to demonstrate value to parent institutions.

Information technology
Technology continues to drive much of the futuristic thinking within academic libraries. The key trends driving educational technology identified in the 2012 Horizon Report 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; challenges to the role of higher education in a world where information is ubiquitous and alternate forms of credentialing are available; new education paradigms that include online and hybrid learning; and a new emphasis on challenge-based and active learning.

Technology trends specific to libraries include Web-scale discovery systems with enhancements such as discipline-scoped searching and customized widgets, community-source library management systems, and vending machines to handle loans of equipment.

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. The 2012 Horizon Report reviews ways higher education institutions are using apps and tablets to enhance learning inside and outside the classroom. Some schools have replaced print textbooks with tablets preloaded with course materials while others use them for lecture capture, tutorials, orientations, and interactive publications.

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. A report on the future of academic libraries identifies PDA as 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. New publishing models are being explored for journals, scholarly monographs, textbooks, and digital materials, as stakeholders try to establish sustainable models. Developments relevant to journals include open access to historical content, author-funded open access to new content, and uncertainty of the future of “Big Deals” (agreements or subscriptions with the large, usually expensive, publishers.

Staffing
Academic libraries must develop the staff needed to meet new challenges through creative approaches to hiring new personnel and deploying/retraining existing staff. Staff development and personnel are the top work place issues for academic librarians

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.” Convenience is a significant factor in both academic and everyday-life information-seeking situations. Not only is immediate access to electronic sources a critical component of meeting the information needs of students and faculty, but access to human sources also is important. 

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