Academic libraries in the news

Over the last couple of days, three reports and articles discussing academic libraries have been published. So what is the current state of play with regards to academic libraries? Do these North American trends translate into the Australian environment?

Inside Higher Ed has a blog post titled “Academic Librarians As Campus Hubs“, written by an academic at a US university, who thinks that academic librarians are uniquely placed to help make connections between other staff and groups within a university. There are three characteristics of the library and librarians which makes this possible:

  • Physical space – usually in a central location on campus
  • Interdisciplinary focus – librarians work with a range of academic staff from across campus so can see possible connections easily
  • Service orientation – making connections could be seen as an extension of the other library services which are provided


The ACRL (Association of College & Research Libraries) released a white paper “Connect, Collaborate, and Communicate: A Report from the Value of Academic Libraries Summits“, which came out of the Value of Academic Libraries Initiative. The key findings from the summits were:

  • Increase librarians’ understanding of library value and impact in relation to various dimensions of student learning and success. 
  • Articulate and promote the importance of assessment competencies necessary for documenting and communicating library impact on student learning and success.
  • Create professional development opportunities for librarians to learn how to initiate and design assessment that demonstrates the library’s contributions to advancing institutional mission and strategic goals
  • Expand partnerships for assessment activities with higher education constituent groups and related stakeholders.
  • Integrate the use of existing ACRL resources with library value initiatives
Finally, the June 2012 issue of College & Research Libraries (the journal of the ACRL) has an article discussing the 2012 top ten trends in academic libraries. The trends which were identified are: 
  • Communicating value
  • Data curation
  • Digital preservation
  • Higher education
  • Information technology
  • Mobile environments
  • Patron driven e-book acquisition
  • Scholarly communication
  • Staffing
  • User behaviors and expectations

There are a couple of themes which are coming through in these discussions. Ensuring that the library is able to let the rest of the university know what they’re doing and the benefits that can flow from working with the library is one of them. Building on our strengths in service provision to look for non-traditional services that the library can provide, e.g. research data management, is another area that academic libraries can pursue.

It is an exciting time to be an academic librarian, I think, and it will be interesting to see how these trends play out.

About Andrew

I'm a health librarian in Sydney, Australia, who also happens to be a geocacher.
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