October 11, 2015 at 10:06 pm #2466
“Innovation” and “change” are the two words that recurred in reading about the role of libraries in research support this week. Radical reconfiguration and reconceptualization of library roles were also in the wind.
Universities and their libraries are undergoing extraordinary transformative experiences, driven by government funding policies and guidelines that require evidence of innovation and productivity. Moreover that funding is being reduced creating an intensely competitive environment. In attempting to align themselves within this new competitive paradigm, universities are looking to increase the amount and accessibility of their research output (publications) and maximising the impact of their research. As Richardson, Nolan-Brown, Loria & Bradbury put it in their Queensland library survey report, the major objective of current government funding policy is to drive substantial growth in national productivity.
Since research output is now so much more closely linked to funding, research libraries need to prioritise research support and position themselves as being central to the research process. Aligning with their university’s goals is crucial for institutional success, and indeed survival. As Carmel O’Sullivan put it in out Twitter chat this week:
“Libraries focus effort where the institution is focusing effort and funding.” @C_OSulliv
and Sue Hutley pointed out:
“Unis change their research foci & faculty size so Libraries will need to be flexible to match” @suehutley
Library services are responding to these changes and the roles and responsibilities of subject or liaison librarians are changing, or at least experiencing a re-conceptualisation. Research librarians are finding they need to ensure that their skills and qualifications are continually updated to ensure that researchers’ needs are being met. Creating and nurturing collaborative partnerships between libraries and academia has never been more important, despite the tensions that this climate of change is engendering. On this latter point, Keller considers that better definition of research support positions may help to ease such tensions, focussing attention on librarians as information facilitators rather than as subject-matter experts. And I liked our guest tweeter Bodie Van Den Berg’s comment that in partnerships between researchers and librarians they bring different skills to the table:
“… Each informs the other. They don’t exist in flux. Its an ecosystem.” @bodievandenberg
The Twitter chat discussed how libraries and librarians can contribute actively to research projects. It was pointed out that research support is already a big part of what liaison librarians do @pberetta and that this kind of support can happen in all aspects of the research lifecycle. @staceysarasvati.
So what exactly are we talking about?
The kinds of library programs, products and services currently being developed as research support include information literacy skills such as:
- Data management and curation
- Seeking and interpreting data about research publications including citation counts, research metrics such as h-indexes and altmetrics.
- Understanding strategic publishing
- Tracking and measuring the impact of research
- Using social media to promote research
- Embedding information specialists, with relevant subject-based research experience, in departments and research teams
Information literacy tools include online guides for topics such as researching impact, scholarly publishing and bibliometrics. One advantage to libraries of these kinds of tools is that they can provide research support services in a sustainable and scalable way, as opposed to face-to-face teaching at a time when resources need to be carefully prioritised.
In many ways the provision of these kinds of programs, products and services harks back to our discussion of the ways in which information literacy teaching and reference services fit together in today’s libraries. Teaching these kinds of skills is yet another way of teaching people to fish, although the stakes for libraries are much higher in this context than those considered in my earlier reflection on this subject.
Looking back at all of the subjects we’ve covered in this course, librarianship and libraries are truly experiencing extraordinary changes in their nature and finding ways to adapt, survive and thrive is a significant challenge.
Image: courtesy of Tasmania University Union 2015
October 17, 2015 at 12:33 pm #2525
Hi Robynne, how did you insert that awesome image without the attachment? Thanks
October 17, 2015 at 4:00 pm #2531
Hi Peldon, I went to the text view, clicked on the IMG button and added in the html link to the image. I need to go back and add in the citation, so thanks for the reminder!
October 18, 2015 at 4:21 pm #2568
Hi Robynne! Just dropping by to say that I really enjoyed your post. It’s clear that you have a great understanding of this topic. I also liked how you brought the Twitter chat into your reflection and also the way you formatted your post. I particularly like the last line you wrote
librarianship and libraries are truly experiencing extraordinary changes in their nature and finding ways to adapt, survive and thrive is a significant challenge.
I find it really inspiring how libraries and librarians never let these starts of changes stop them. They always keep moving forward, as you say, adapting, surviving and also thriving. Great!
- This reply was modified 3 years, 10 months ago by Kate McKelliget.
October 26, 2015 at 4:28 pm #2774
Thank you Kate, the topic was a lot more interesting than I thought it was going to be 🙂 And you’re right about libraries changing! I’m so glad I’ve done this course or I may never have understood the extraordinary way libraries are evolving and innovating to keep themselves relevant and at the forefront of changes. I find it inspiting too.
October 30, 2015 at 6:25 am #2852
This is awesome review of the discussion, Great post, thank you! Siimply amazazing!
- This reply was modified 3 years, 9 months ago by Steven Walker.
November 1, 2015 at 8:16 pm #2919
Thank you Steven 🙂 I enjoyed reading about this area. I’ve learned a great deal from this course, not just about libraries but about the way things work. Such as research and funding and the politics and machinations behind them. Oh for a world where research and knowledge were separate from the grubby business of money! But of course that has never been the case and, no doubt, never will be so we have to learn to play the game and remain adaptive to changes in the rules.
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