The Empires Fight Back – Globalization and Area Studies

Last week at our FutureCast meeting, Deborah Jakubs, University Librarian at Duke, gave us a thoughtful analysis of internationalizing education and research collections. She was commenting on Ben Wildavsky’s talk about an increasingly mobile academy, the emergence of global universities, and the role of global rankings. Deborah  put Wildavsky’s thesis about globalization and higher education in a research library context. I asked Deborah for her notes, and she has allowed me to post them. I have made my own personal selections here.

Issues:

  • Higher education has gone global
  • Language learning/fluency very important
  • Increased collaboration with research partners, co-authors,  beyond the US
  • Access for non-US researchers to scholarship produced in the US and internationally

Ironies:

  • Title VI funding for area studies is threatened precisely when language/cultural expertise is needed
  • Research libraries see continued decline in “foreign acquisitions”
  • Trend in libraries to justify expenditures on use, ROI
  • Limited and/or uneven production of and access to digital scholarly resources worldwide
  • Contradiction between globalized universities and diminishing focus on global acquisitions
  • How will needs of scholars for access to non-English, often obscure, materials be met?
  • Erosion of the mission of research libraries to focus on the most-used or most-requested, turning away from more specialized
  • Implications of just in time vs. just in case for foreign materials?

Challenges:

  • Focus more on less available materials;  “core” is easily found (see Hathi Trust, etc.)
  • Treat foreign materials as special collections
  • What’s the information landscape beyond the US, in developing countries?
  • Can we develop centers of strength?
  • Given the partnerships between US and non-US researchers/institutions, we should develop parallel partnership with libraries in other countries

It will come as no surprise to many that Deborah is on the task force on International Engagement of ARL Libraries.

The video recordings of the FutureCast plenary sessions and response panels will be posted shortly.

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About Jennifer Schaffner

Jennifer Schaffner is a Program Officer with the OCLC Research Library Partnership. She works with the rare books, manuscripts and archives communities. She joined RLG/OCLC Research in August of 2007.