At last, some library content on the blog

Most of the posts on this blog have related to geocaching, but this one is going to have some library content.

Ithaka S+R recently released a report titled Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Chemists, which raises some interesting points. The study interviewed chemistry researchers and research support staff (including librarians) from across the UK. The goal of the report is to

inform research support professionals about the latest research methods, practices, and information services needs of academics chemists and how they have been changing, inspiring their aims to develop robust, relevant, innovative research support services.

I must say that the findings of the report match my experience as a Liaison/Research Librarian for chemistry. There is very little interaction between the academic staff and librarians, which I’ve come to accept. I run a training session for postgraduate students in how to use SciFinder, but that’s the extent of our formal training. Reflecting the report’s observation that most contact between chemistry researchers and librarians concerns the library’s collection, most of the queries I receive are requests for a new journal subscription or book order, or problems accessing online journal articles.

A few of the themes explored in the report were covered at the Research Support Community Day which I attended in Brisbane recently. These include research data management, changes in the way scholarly literature is accessed, and open access and new publishing models. Chemists recognise that they need help with these, but don’t realise that the library can help them. They value the library for its role in managing collections, but may not be aware of the services which are available to them. However, the report does note that libraries are finding it increasingly difficult to provide researcher-focused services, due to limited library budgets and staffing resources.

The three recommendations from the report are:

  • Chemists require better knowledge management infrastructure, systems, and training
  • Chemists require highly customizable and efficient current awareness services.
  • To navigate the complicated and in some cases apparently contradictory publication mandates from funders, institutions, and government, chemists require advisory services to support their research dissemination needs.

Suggested opportunities for libraries and other research support service providers to develop new services for researchers are then discussed. All in all the report provides some food for thought, and suggests services that the library could provide which would be appreciated by chemistry researchers.

About Andrew

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