Defending the Academic Library in Lean TimesMeeting of the Minds June Heterick 1 Memorial 2012 Library
From a SWON workshop presented by: •The Value Proposition of Academic Libraries • Amy Ensor Mary Jenkins Alison Morgan • Xavier University • March 5, 2012
Librarians have skills no one else has: • Organization, research, editing, documentation, indexing, makin g information accessible and transparent….
But we have a branding problem, and we have a cultural problem.
Fundamental changes in academic libraries“…Academic libraries have changed more in thepast two decades than in the preceding twocenturies. Technology is a major driver... But thereal questions of interest are … the social impactsand processes that have resulted.Furthermore, we must address these changes withthe recognition that they have only begun, and thatthey are irreversible.” Andrew Dillon, “Accelerating Learning and Discovery: Refining the Role of Academic Librarians,” 2008
#1 OVERARCHING RISK to academic libraries:“Reduced sense of library relevance frombelow, above and within.” “User base erodes because library value proposition is not effectively communicated.” “Availability of online and other resources (e.g., Google) may weaken the visibility and necessity of the library.” Research Libraries, Risk and Systemic Change OCLC Research, March 2010 (James Michalko, Constance Malpas, Arnold Arcolio)
Requisite attributes of the academic library
…library value is being measured in terms that are moredifficult to quantify:• How integral it is to the academy• How well it supports learning and teaching• How well it supports research The Academic Library in a 2.0 World ECAR Center for Applied Research, September 2008 Susan V. Wawrzaszek and David G. Wedaman http://www.flickr.com/photos/dnnya/2559183847//
What do our users(and non-users) need today? Assessment/Surveys
Changes to access It is not obvious that investing in renovating the traditional technology platform will substantially reduce systemic risks facing libraries. Legacy library technology is not a risk inherent in the surrounding information environment; it represents an obstacle to effecting meaningful change in the library’s operations and value proposition. Research Libraries, Risk and Systemic Change OCLC Research, March 2010 (James Michalko, Constance Malpas, Arnold Arcolio)
Change and Risk • Libraries can’t adjust fast enough to keep up with rapidly changing technology and user needs • Libraries often face inefficiencies and expenses due to lack of functionality and IT support • Replacement parts are hard to find • Digital content is lost because it’s not properly managed and preserved Research Libraries, Risk and Systemic Change OCLC Research, March 2010 (James Michalko, Constance Malpas, Arnold Arcolio)
Legacy tech systems: could we do more with less?Search engines trump libraries forspeed, convenience, reliability, and ease ofuse; libraries trump search engines fortrustworthiness and accuracy. OCLC, Perceptions of Libraries, 2010, Context and Community
Where college students get theirinformation:
Information Literacy “What’s so frustrating to me about conducting research is the more you know, the more you realize how little you know – it’s depressing, frustrating and suffocating.” – undergraduate humanities student Information is now as infinite as the universe, but finding the answers is harder than ever. Alison J. Head and Michael B. Eisenberg, Project Information Literacy, University of Washington
How college students search for information: • 83% begin information searches using search engines • 57% use the library website for finding online information • 10% use online librarian question services (chat, IM, etc.) • Top reason for not using the library website is the perception that other sites have better information, not that students don’t know the library website exists • One in three college students report that they use the library less than a few times a year OCLC, Perceptions of Libraries, 2010, Context and Community and Ithaka S+R Library Survey 2010: Insights from U.S. Academic Library Directors
Support of teaching and learning is priority. • Undergraduate information literacy is primary role • Supporting discovery of content is important • Priority is on research and teaching support functions more than traditional collections and preservation • User-facing functions rank higher in importance than collections development and maintenance • Research and teaching support will grow in importance in the next five years Ithaka S+R Library Survey 2010: Insights from U.S. Academic Library Directors
• Libraries will be assessed on how they contribute to teaching and learning• Shift from functioning as information repositories to learning enterprises• Services and resources must be embedded in teaching and learning activities• Focus must be on information skills, not information access• Librarians must think like educators, not service providers Value of Academic Libraries, ACRL
Concerns about staff, cited by academiclibrary leaders: • Staff lack skill set for future needs • Conservative nature of library inhibits timely adaptation to changed circumstances. • Difficulty finding candidates for evolving management/leadership roles. • Not easy to provide cross-training and re- training required to manage change • Smaller pool of qualified candidates.
“Somebody will develop the services the newresearcher needs. If the library does not developthose, there is no future for the research library.”Requires a radical, fundamental transformationprocess, focused on collaboration with others, thatwill affect every aspect of the ‘library’ business. Rick Luce (vice-provost and director of libraries at Emory University), speaking at LIBER 2011
Best practices for addressing thesechallenges: • Set high expectations; put into place an explicit program of cultural change • Move from hierarchy to adhocracy – a culture of high flexibility and external focus • Proactively work toward meaningful library/faculty partnerships to deepen and advance research • Restructure traditional workflows to invest in research support services • Engage users in program and collection development
Collaboration is crucial.84% of library directors would withdraw print collectionsif access to print copies existed through a trustednetwork that provided on-demand access. Ithaka S+R Library Survey 2010: Insights from U.S. Academic Library Directors• Shared infrastructure• Increased outsourcing• Regional consolidation of services• Shared repositories for books and print journals• Industry-wide digitization initiatives
What to do? What’s being done? • Self Study • Environmental Scan • Surveys • Assessment • Access – Discovery Layer • Tools – Calculators
Photo/art credits:Slide 4: Xavier University Archives and Special CollectionsSlide 9: Slide 13 Scales – dnnya, via FlickrSlide 10: City, Public Library – The Library of Virginia, 1956, via FlickrSlide 17: Folly Beach, South Carolina – Alison MorganSlide 19: Pez collection – Karen Tucker, karen.tkr, via FlickrSlide 23: Library of Celsus, Ephesus – Dachalan, via FlickrAll Flickr images are Creative Commons licensed