Research libraries in the 21st century

Although the purpose of academic and research library collections remains the same – to support the creation and dissemination of new knowledge – the nature of collections is moving away from ‘local’ to collaborative and multi-institutional.  New forms of scholarship are transforming user expectations for broad, barrier free collection discovery and access.  Libraries must transform their approaches to meet new user demands.

The Association of Research Libraries’ (ARL) briefing paper for research library leaders sets out to draw a ‘big picture’ of the future of research library collections.

Key findings – the research environment

  • Publishing output will continue to increase
  • Global/interdisciplinary research will grow
  • The value of personal collections will increase
  • Open content will proliferate

Key findings – the future of libraries

  • Researchers must understand intellectual property frameworks – libraries can provide support
  • Other new roles for research libraries include: digital preservation and data management experts and as supporters helping researchers collaborate even more
  • There will also be roles to support the open content movement, for example as publishers as well as IP rights advisers
  • Metrics about value to the research community must be improved
  • Research libraries will need to maintain linked, digital content in order to enable discovery and future use.
  • Resources will increasingly be allocated to the development of tools, an activity well suited to inter-institutional collaboration.
  • There will continue to be moves to providing just in time services rather than building just in case collections

The report is available to download from the ARL website.

About Val Skelton

I am the editor of Information Today, Europe. On the main site, we cover news and publish feature articles by information, research and knoweldge practitioners and thought leaders. On this blog, we aim to cover other topics of interest to our readers.

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