Week 11 Arguing a Point: Research Support to Librarians

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      Samantha Maddox

      What I would like to argue in this post is the importance of librarians collaborating with researchers. According to Keller’s research this is what makes Australian academic librarians so unique in comparison to international academic librarians. It is seen to be of such great importance to both libraries and universities that it is put into mission statements, Macquarie University Library ‘enhances research performance’, Monash University Library ‘makes a critical contribution to the achievement of Monash’s research strategies.

      Because we are fortunate enough in our country to have generous funding poured into our Higher Education Repositories, these areas are currently well developed and Australian university libraries see themselves as genuine partners in research. In the research by Keller, she discovers that academic librarians, if given the opportunity to work with researchers, they are well equipped to take on the responsibility as project manager, data management plans, copyright issues and process organisation.

      Academic librarians want to work more closely with researchers in a supporting role as they see this as a vital partnership that could be utilised in the knowledge creation process. Both groups bring their own unique skill sets and content to the equation.

      For librarians in the past, present and future, teaching and learning is their bread and butter, but Australian universities would like and are encouraging this to change, they have the foresight of wanting to strengthen their position in research and understand that librarians are an untapped source that could bring so much to the space, it is now time for both groups, librarians and researchers to come together and find one another’s strengths and utilise them to their full capacity.

      Librarians work in an environment that is constantly evolving and according to Lowry, the radical configuration of research library organisations and services along with an increasingly diverse and talented staff to respond to the rapidly changing environment, libraries have the opportunity to be part of a new hybrid with in organisations which will emerge as a result of tackling new support paradigms. The landscape is changing and being challenged by scholars and librarians and how they both can interrelate in regards to how library spaces are used and how librarians are utilised.

      Librarians can contribute and offer assistance to all aspects of the research lifecycle, they are a researchers untapped source. They have many skills that are viable and applicable in relation to research. Academic libraries can support research by developing and aggregating discipline based tools, providing customized services, and emphasizing user-centered services. This may entail embedding information specialists, with relevant subject-based research experience, in departments and research teams. Researchers need to be recognised as both users and creators of an expanding range of digital information.

      According to Potter, 2012, the research librarian’s role is itself in a state of continual transition, and is changing from a supportive relationship to a collaborative partnership, from one that is on the periphery to one that is being embedded within the research community. As individuals, librarians and researchers collaborating together is a brilliant concept, if utilized correctly you can play to each others strengths, both groups understand the pressures of academic workloads but each needs to accept that the researcher is the subject expert and the librarian is the information expert.

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