Thursday, 3 May 2007

Researchers' Use of Academic Libraries

I suspect that the academic librarians who would be most interested in this research report from the Research Information Network and the Consortium of Research Libraries will already be aware of this publication. I want to look at its significance for other sectors.

This study was designed to provide an up-to-date and forward-looking view of how researchers interact with academic libraries in the UK. As such it does focus on academic libraries. When it talks of researchers it means academic researchers, those who have an affiliation with a HE institution, and does not consider researchers in the more general sense of those who want to do research but are not attached to a university. (See my posting of 23 February).

What may be of interest to other sectors is the discussion of view of their future role of librarians. The report surveyed the views of researchers, library staff and heads of service. What it didn't do was to ask the university administrators the same question.

The results indicate that the core roles librarians currently undertake will still be core roles in five years time. These include administration, negotiating the purchase and executing the delivery of information resources, serving as custodians of archives and special collections, offering subject-based expertise, and teaching information literacy and related skills. More directors than library staff believe subject-based expertise offered in the library will be a core role for librarians in five years time. Librarians and researchers differ significantly in four key areas. Thus the great majority of librarians see teaching information literacy and offering subject-based expertise as core roles for them, and central to what they do; researchers are generally supportive, but more equivocal about whether these are core as distinct from ancillary roles for librarians’. There are also some differences of view as to whether managing metadata issues and facilitating e-learning should be core roles for librarians: relatively few researchers think this should be so compared with the figures for librarians. Is there a similar divergence between how public librarians and library users see their future role?

The report also points out that researchers who access information services from their desk top do not always appreciate the role of the library in providing theses service. As public libraries develop their on-line services they will face the same problem.

If you are not aware that the branch you are sitting on is connected to the trunk of the tree then you might happily saw through it and not be aware of the consequences! Users and decision makers must be kept aware of what we are doing.

1 comment:

borrodell said...

Hi Carl,

Just wanted to say thanks for noting our report - we're always interested to hear people's thoughts, and of course glad of the publicity!

I'm not sure if you were aware that we held an event last Monday to launch and discuss the report - I've just popped the speaker presentations up on the RIN website, in case you wanted to read further (

All the best