Libraries and Research: Supporting Change/Changing Support was a meeting on 11-12 June for members of the OCLC Research Library Partnership. The meeting focused on how the evolving nature of academic research practices and scholarship are placing new demands on research library services. Shifting attitudes toward data sharing, methodologies in eScholarship, and rethinking the very definition of scholarly discourse . . . . these are all areas that have deep implications for the library. But it is not only the research process that is changing; research universities are evolving in new directions, often becoming more outcome-oriented, changing to reflect the increased importance of impact assessment, and competing for funding. Libraries are taking on new roles and responsibilities to support change in research and in the academy. From our perch in OCLC Research, we can see that as libraries prepare to meet new demands and position themselves for the future, libraries themselves are changing, both in their organizational structure and in their alliances with other parts of the university and with external entities.
This meeting focused on three thematic areas: supporting change in research; supporting change at the university level; and changing support structures in the library.
For the first time, and in response to an increasing number of active partners in Europe we held our Partnership meeting outside of the United States. Since we have a number of partners in the Netherlands, we opted to hold our meeting in Amsterdam. We were in a terrific venue, and the beautiful weather didn’t hurt.
Meeting attendees were greeted by Maria Heijne (Director of the University of Amsterdam Library and of the Library of Applied Sciences/Hogeschool of Amsterdam). [Link to video.] Maria highlighted the global perspective represented by those attending the meeting — which haled from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Italy, Germany, Australia, Japan, the US and Canada. The UofA library is a unique combination of library, special collections, and museum of archaeology. The offer a strong combination of services for the university and for the city of Amsterdam. Like so many libraries in the Partnership and beyond, the UofA library is preparing for a new facilities, and looking to shift effort from cataloging and other backroom functions to working more closely with researchers and other customers.
Titia van der Werf (Senior Program Officer, OCLC Research) introduced the meeting and our themes [link to video], welcoming special guests from DANS, LIBER, RLUK and from OCLC EMEA Regional Council. The OCLC Research Library Partnership focuses on projects that have been defined as being of importance to partners. Examples of work in OCLC Research in support of the Partnership include looking at shifts in publication patterns and shifts in research (as highlighted in the Evolving Scholarly Record report), challenges in restructuring and redefining within the library (reflected in work done by my colleague Jim Michalko), and studying the behavior of researchers so we can understand evolving needs (reflected in our work synthesizing user and behavior studies). We also see interest and uptake in new ways of thinking about cataloging data, recasting metadata as identifiers (such as identifiers for people, subjects, or for works). As research changes, as universities change, so too do libraries need to change.
With that introduction to our meeting, I’ll close. Look for a short series of posts summarizing the remainder of the meeting, focusing on the three themes.
[The event webpage contains links to slides, videos, photos, Storify summaries]
Merrilee Proffitt is Senior Manager. She provides community development skills and expert support to institutions within the OCLC Research Library Partnership.