I was interested to read Graeme Oke’s #blogjune post on the #FutureLibrary blog, and the blog post by Lukas Koster which he linked to, regarding communication between academics and the library. It got me thinking about how well my library listens to its academic staff users (and non-users). Sure, we run a regular client survey (as most Australian university libraries do), but we don’t really take the time to sit down and ask the academics what they want from us. I also think that we don’t do a very good job of promoting our services and expertise, to both new and exisiting academic staff.
If we talked and listened to the academics, I think they would have some suggestions for new services that we could offer, and they wouldn’t be in the traditional library space. Like most (all?) Australian universities, Macquarie has increased its emphasis on research over the past few years, and I think we should be looking to expand our services which support researchers. It’s in areas such as altmetrics, research data management, and social media presence where I think we can help. As with our work to support teaching by trying to embed ourselves in online units, we have goals within our Library Services department plan such as “Scope services and products and plan support for researchers”, “Develop and pilot an online product to support researchers applying for research grants”, and “Develop communication strategy for researchers of each Faculty”. What these services and strategies will actually be, I don’t know, but the fact that their development is part of our plan for the year means that there’s a very good that something will happen. Our recent restructure was carried out in order to allow the Research Librarians to focus on providing support for researchers. The new model provides us with a perfect opportunity to ask our academic staff what they want from us, and to be in a position to listen and respond to what they say.
I think it’s an exciting time to be an academic librarian. The role is changing, and the opportunities are there to be able to create new and innovative services, and to involve ourselves in areas which aren’t part of the traditional library space.