Sunday, April 19, 2020

It’s Not What Libraries Hold; It’s Who Libraries Serve: Seeking a User-Centered Future for Academic Libraries (2020) by Gwen Evans (@Litslibrarian), Roger C. Schonfeld (@rschon). / @OhioLINK. COVID-19 Professional Reading

It’s Not What Libraries Hold; It’s Who Libraries Serve: Seeking a User-Centered Future for Academic Libraries (2020) by Gwen Evans (@Litslibrarian), Roger C. Schonfeld (@rschon). / @OhioLINK

Though written with a focus on the Ohio Library and Information Network (OhioLINK), the key takeaways from this study, namely that collections (both physical and electronic) are no longer the sine qua non in defining "the library." The report amplifies the idea that a user-centric approach that ties library services into a larger digital ecosystem of the research environment is vital to the library mission going forward.

The report outlines current failure of the integrated library system (ILS) to effectively manage non-print resources. As the authors note:
"The striking difference from the environment of the past is that while the library still physically occupies a central position on campus, most of user activity takes place in a highly decentralized virtual environment that library facilities, staff, and applications no longer control or channel."
From the summary:
"The business of an academic library is to support the educational and research mission of its parent institution. Exactly how academic libraries fulfill that function has changed dramatically. Academic libraries must align their services and content to function as a higher education business, while simultaneously serving the evolving needs of its users, or risk irrelevance—as in the well-known example of 19th century railroads’ failure to recognize they were in the transportation business, not the railroad business."
The ongoing COVID-19 situation will accelerate the need for the changes outlined in this report for OHIOLink. Management of library print collections remains important, but new methods of discovery need to acknowledge, with limited exceptions, that library use (as evidenced in OhioLink usage stats) is overwhelmingly electronic.

However, as the authors argue, even "next gen" systems are not aggressively embracing the transformative needs for the integrated scholarly ecosystem that the academic world is embracing. In conclusion, "Libraries are developing advanced services and partnerships in support of student success and research excellence. They are driving efficiencies into their print collections as they manage a digital transformation."

No comments: