15 July 2013

Libraries: from providing access to enabling and organising

Today, a college colleague of mine working on PhD asked me to help her access an article she identified on Google Scholar. My first thought was to check her university’s e-journal collection... That was a daunting task – the interface was pretty unusable; students’ reluctance to use peer-reviewed journals is not groundless, I thought.

To speed up the process, I repeated the search on Google Scholar, found six places the article was available from, one of those places was academia.edu – a social platform for research paper exchange. (The rest were paid-for platforms, we ignored them).

This made me to think that in the world were the published research becomes available free at the point of use more often, the role of libraries and librarians will be moving further towards enabling, research community organising, facilitation, advice and curation – away from offering access to the paid-for resources as their central function. Saying that, I am surprised that academia.edu was invented not by librarians – we’ve been in the business of institutional research publishing and archiving for years.

That, of course, relates to HE. For the FE sector, the picture is murky. I have just completed the last year SAR; most of the traditional KPIs (active borrowers, number of loans, even ebook usage etc.) are flat, growth happened in use of ILT/ICT equipment, PCs and learning space utilisation. If we logged IT- and study/research skills-related enquiries last year, those numbers would go through the roof too. And so, the murky picture starts getting shapes... One of my forthcoming posts will be on that.

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