An RLG working group is writing a manifesto for academic libraries, addressing the need for change to better support research. The recent clamor over Dan Greenstein’s intentionally provocative remarks about the future of university libraries has prompted us to offer a preview of our work.
The reactions to Greenstein’s remarks certainly validate this paragraph from our current draft:
As budgets across higher education are shrinking, some in the academy are questioning the continued value of large academic libraries. At the same time, many academic libraries are providing vital and innovative services and resources in support of emerging forms of research, publishing, and information management. While some would argue that academic libraries are playing an increasingly important role in scholarly research, others fear that they are on the brink of extinction and must change radically to survive.
In an effort to rise above the debate on the current and future value of libraries, the draft suggests a set of principles to guide academic libraries in improving research support in a changing environment.
The principles drafted to date are:
–Heed the ever-changing work patterns and needs of scholars and change library practices in response.
–Design services around the parts of the research process that cause scholars the most frustration.
–Embed library services in scholars’ workflows, integrated with services provided by others.
–Redefine reference as research consultation instead of fact-finding.
–Ensure that staff training and hiring reflect the new modes of scholarly research.
–Contribute to community solutions that address common needs, so you can focus on what is unique to your institution.
–Demonstrate the value of library services to funders; while providing services that may seem invisible to scholars.
–Commit to long-term preservation of and access to datasets that researchers judge to be of lasting value.
–Promote use of alternative modes of scholarly publishing.
–Recognize that discovery will happen outside of libraries and provide the organization that makes content discoverable.
We recognize that this is not a particularly radical list, and that many academic libraries already embrace some of these principles.
Are any academic libraries embracing all of them? Are all of the principles essential to facilitating effective research? Are there significant principles we left out? Join the debate!
Ricky Erway, Senior Program Officer at OCLC Research, worked with staff from the OCLC Research Library Partnership on projects ranging from managing born digital archives to research data curation. Ricky left OCLC in 2015.