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Assessment in Action Comprehensive Bibliography Now Available

(via Gwen Gregory, IACRL President)

As the higher education association for librarians, ACRL supports academic and research librarians as change leaders in their campus communities through programs like Assessment in Action: Academic Libraries and Student Success (AiA). The more than 200 participating AiA teams are contributing to innovation in higher education assessment by creating approaches, strategies, and practices that document the contribution of academic libraries to the overall goals and missions of their institutions.

Through AiA, librarian-led teams carried out assessment projects over 14 months at their community colleges, colleges and universities. The projects examined the impact of the library (instruction, reference, collections, space, and more) on student learning/success. Learn more in the new Assessment in Action Bibliography, listing dozens of journal articles, conference presentations and other public reports. This bibliography aims to be comprehensive, capturing all scholarly and practice-based literature and presentations about AiA and campus projects conducted as part of the AiA program by campus team members, facilitators, and ACRL staff.

Stay tuned for more on AiA results in the weeks ahead through:

AiA Project Synthesis: A report synthesizing the second year AiA projects and leadership of campus assessment teams will be coming out in early 2016. For the first year synthesis, see the full report and executive summary to share broadly with campus stakeholders. Find first and second year poster abstracts, images and full project descriptions in a searchable online collection.

Putting Assessment into Action: Selected Projects from the First Cohort of the Assessment in Action Grant. This forthcoming ACRL case book, edited by Eric Ackerman, will showcase 27 short reflections by first year AiA team leaders on the inquiry methods they used in their assessment projects. Assembled into three groupings — Assessing Information Literacy and Library Instruction; Assessing Outreach, Services, and Spaces; and Longitudinal Assessment — the cases describe assessment methods used and the successes and/or failures of these methods along with lessons learned.

College and Research Libraries: The March 2016 special issue of ACRL’s scholarly journal will proudly features a selection of 7 action research studies by AiA teams, along with an introductory essay. The aim of the special issue is to help C&RL readers learn more about action research as an approach to scholarship and showcase examples of fruitful action research studies undertaken by AiA teams.

For additional background on the Assessment in Action Bibliography, go here.

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OCLC Annual Report for FY 2015 Available

OCLC has released its annual report for 2014-15. The report details the organization’s progress in meeting its goals, including sharing knowledge, connecting users, delivering value, and transforming spaces. Several of the major projects that OCLC has undertaken to reach these goals include helping national and regional institutions in Spain, China, and the Netherlands add millions of titles to their collections; working with the Library of Congress to advance its BIBFRAME bibliographic-description initiative; streamlining collection-development tasks, such as analyzing e-book and e-journal packages, through WorldShare Reports; and working with Sustainable Collection Services to help libraries balance space needs with maintaining physical collections.

In the sharing category, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign makes several “Top 10” lists. These lists cover lending members (ninth, with 31,965 items lent via OCLC in 2015; Minnesota’s statewide Minitex system leads the list) and online original catalogers (also ninth, with 10,999 original records added to OCLC in 2015; the University of Hong Kong is number one).

Other interesting numbers from the report:

  • OCLC currently has 16,912 member institutions, spread across 118 countries. Sixty-nine of these nations (58 percent) are in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; 28 (24 percent) are in the Americas; and 21 (18 percent) are in the Asia Pacific.
  • The Americas have the highest number of OCLC member institutions, with 11,244 (66 percent). Europe, the Middle East, and Africa have 3,871 members (23 percent), and the Asia Pacific has 1,797 (11 percent).
  • Over the past year, 61 institutions have joined OCLC. In addition, 11 countries that did not previously have any member institutions are now represented. These nations include Cameroon, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, and Saint Lucia.
  • Public libraries make up the largest proportion of member institutions, with 5,392 (32 percent), followed by college and university libraries, at 4,912 (29 percent). There is a separate category for community college and vocational libraries, which number 1,086 (about 6.5 percent).
  • State and national libraries are at the bottom of the list, with 112 (0.66 percent). This category does not include federal, state, and municipal government libraries, which number 1,533 (9 percent).
  • The total number of holdings in OCLC is almost 2.3 billion. Nearly 150 million holdings were added in the past year, amounting to a 7-percent increase.
  • The total number of records is over 340 million. This includes more than 20 million that were added in FY 2015, or an increase of just over 6 percent.
  • The number of digital records in OCLC is now over 43 million, up about 2.5 million from the year before, an increase of 6 percent. There are over 14 million e-book records, an increase of more than 300,000, or a little over 2 percent.
  • Sixty-one percent of records are in a language other than English. There are 482 languages and 15 scripts used in WorldCat. The most-common languages are English, German, and French. Scripts include Cyrillic, Devanagari, and Tamil.

To access the full report, go here.

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Digital Inclusion and Health Literacy

The Information Policy & Access Center has released its Digital Inclusion Survey, which was compiled last year. The survey acknowledges the crucial role that public libraries play in providing access to digital resources, particularly to members of the community who would otherwise be cut off from the online environment. The study was intended not just to record the technology infrastructure that libraries possess, but to note the ways in which outreach efforts by libraries are improving the quality of life for underserved communities. These efforts are critical, as simply providing members of the public with digital access does not ensure understanding of those resources, including the most effective ways to navigate them in order to complete a key task, such a submitting a job application online. Through documenting the ways in which public libraries improve digital literacy and help close the ”

The Information Policy & Access Center has released its Digital Inclusion Survey, which was compiled last year. The survey acknowledges the crucial role that public libraries play in providing access to digital resources, particularly to members of the community who would otherwise be cut off from the online environment. The study was intended not just to record the technology infrastructure that libraries possess, but to note the ways in which outreach efforts by libraries are improving the quality of life for underserved communities. These efforts are critical, as simply providing members of the public with digital access does not ensure understanding of those resources, including the most effective ways to navigate them in order to complete a key task, such a submitting a job application online. Through documenting the ways in which public libraries improve digital literacy and help close the “Digital Divide”, the study also reinforces the efforts of libraries to meet the ever-changing needs of their users and that libraries are no longer merely repositories for print materials, even though that is still a key service.

One area that the study covers is health literacy. The following key findings emerge.

  • A substantial number of public libraries provide some types of health and wellness resources. 56.2 percent provide access to subscription databases. 59.4 percent provide resources on health insurance, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
  • That having been said, significant differences exist between urban and rural public libraries in the health-information services they provide. City libraries’ budgets are larger (even if they may be somewhat smaller on a per-capita basis), and they serve more people.
    • Libraries in urban areas (74.5 percent) are far more likely to offer access to subscription databases, such as EBSCO Consumer Health Complete and Gale Health & Wellness Center, than are libraries in rural regions (39.8 percent).
    • Similarly, public libraries in urban areas (48.9 percent) are far more likely to have STEAM programming than are libraries in rural regions (19.7 percent).
    • In providing health-insurance information, including resources on ACA, city libraries do so at a 76.8-percent level, whereas rural libraries do so at only a 46.0-percent level.
  • Disparities also exist between public libraries that were renovated in the last five years and those that were last renovated longer ago. It is not clear what the exact cause is more available space, greater funding resources, or a combination of the two.
    • 48.1 percent offer STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) programming; the number falls to 30.6 percent among libraries that have not been renovated recently.
    • 22.1 percent hold maker-space events related to STEAM; the number is 13.1 percent for other libraries.
    • 70.6 percent have services to assist patrons with locating free health information; the percentage declines to 54.6 for libraries that have not been updated recently.
    • 67.0 percent provide access to subscription databases on health-related topics; the number falls to 53.9 percent for other libraries
    • 71.1 percent help patrons find health-insurance resources; this applies to only 56.8 percent of other libraries.
    • 53.6 percent educate users in particular areas of health and wellness; this is true of only 46.4 percent of libraries that have been renovated less recently.
  • The vast majority (91.9 percent) of public libraries that offer STEAM activities do so through formal programming.

For more information on the Digital Inclusion Survey, go here.

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2015 Report on Digital Use Worldwide

The company comScore has released the 2015 edition of the Global Digital Future in Focus Report. The report examines trends across the entire globe, while also analyzing data at the regional level and putting it into a broader context. The major topics covered in the report include the characteristics and behaviors of various digital users, including Millennials; the level of engagement with specific types of mobile apps, such as social-media ones; and the prevalence of multi-platform usage, which is across different kinds of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. The report uncovered the following trends.

  • Residents of the United Kingdom are the heaviest users of desktop computers, in terms of the average amount of time spent on one each year. The United States is third, behind Canada. Among East Asian countries, Taiwan has the highest use. The country whose population spends the least amount of time using desktop computers is South Africa.
  • Japan has the highest average online-video use, in terms of the number of minutes each person spends watching them. The United States is closer to the middle of the pack, although this may be due to Americans’ watching many shorter videos. The countries that spend the least amount of time watching online videos are India and the Philippines. The most popular category for videos is entertainment.
  • The use of multi-platform and mobile-only programs is being driven by Millennials in virtually every region. Desktop-only use is less popular among this age group, although using desktops for instant-messaging is relatively common. Regionally, Latin America and East Asia have more youths using just desktops, while Europe has shifted to mobile-only use among the younger population.
  • In Europe and adjoining countries, the Russian Federation and Germany have the highest percentage of desktop-only users, while Ireland and Norway have the lowest. Desktop-only use is evenly spread across age groups, with slightly more men than women using desktop computers. The most popular categories of programs are social media and entertainment.
  • In Latin America, Brazil is the largest market for desktop users, by far, followed by Mexico. Uruguay and Puerto Rico are at the bottom. There is a steady decline in desktop use by age, and men are significantly more likely to use desktops than are women.
  • In East Asia, China leads the way in desktop-only use by a substantial margin, with India in second. New Zealand and Singapore have the fewest users. As in Latin America, desktop-only use declines with age, and men are more likely than women to favor desktops.
  • Across all three major regions, multi-platform use is having the largest impact on mobile use of newspapers. This transition is particularly pronounced is East Asia, while it is somewhat less so in Latin America. Particular publishers, also, are being affected by the shift in all three regions.

Three overall findings emerged from the study.

  • An increasing use of mobile and multi-platform programs is leading to a significant jump in the total size of the “digital population”.
  • Use of mobile devices among Millennials is making the multi-platform approach even more necessary for reaching individuals.
  • Even though desktop use has declined as a percentage of total digital use, it is still a popular option across all geographic regions and age groups.

To access the report, go to http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Presentations-and-Whitepapers/2015/The-Global-Mobile-Report. You will need to complete a brief survey first.

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2015 Report on Use of Mobile Apps in the U.S.

The company comScore has released the 2015 “U.S. Mobile App Report”. The study tracks app use across a number of devices (desktop computers, tablets, and smartphones) and also includes findings from a survey on the user habits of smartphone owners. A number of areas of use were analyzed, including audiences, user habits, the most popular and fastest-growing apps, content categories, social and entertainment apps, and app ads and monetization. The study’s key findings include the following.

  • The amount of time that people spend using digital media continues to grow rapidly, and much of that use includes mobile apps, particularly smartphone apps. The typical mobile user spends 26 hours per month on social apps, and the amount of time is higher among millennials.
  • In establishing a user base for an app, it is sometimes difficult to maintain user engagement, since apps don’t have as many options for easily linking to other sources of content. On the other hand, those people who do use apps tend to be very loyal and spend much more time on a particular app than the most frequent visitors to mobile websites spend there. Fifty percent of the time using smartphones is spent on one’s favorite app; this percentage rises to 60 percent on tablets.
  • The 25 most popular mobile apps are led by the major digital media companies, including Facebook and YouTube. The also tend to focus within a few categories, particularly social media and entertainment. (Apps in these categories take up two-thirds of the total time spent using apps.) Among specific kinds of apps, fitness ones with personal-health-tracking features are rising in popularity.
  • Among millennials, the most popular apps fall into the social, video, music, and communications categories. Facebook remains the most popular app by far, with Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, and Twitter also receiving significant use.
  • Millennials are more likely to use apps on smartphones, while other segments of the population tend to use apps on tablets. In operating smartphones, millennials are more likely than older people to use just one hand. Those people who do use one hand utilize “thumb reach” to determine where apps are positioned on a phone.
  • Mobile video is becoming increasingly popular, as evidenced by the popularity of the YouTube mobile app. Podcasting, also, is becoming trendy, with over 40 percent of millennials listening to one on a smartphone app at least once a month.

The study also drew three broader conclusions.

  • Even though the use of mobile apps (and digital media more broadly) is expanding rapidly, web-based resources on desktop and mobile devices are still popular.
  • App use depends much on habit and reflex, meaning that specific apps often account for a large majority of the usage, and app-producing companies should target marketing accordingly.
  • Use of apps by millennials continues to drive overall app use and will likely increase even more. App creators must be aware of millennials’ habits and desires in order to be successful in the larger market.
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Report on Libraries and Community Engagement

OCLC Research recently released the report IMLS Focus: Engaging Communities. The document is a summary of last summer’s Institute of Museum and Library Services conference, “Engaging Communities”. The conference drew participants from a wide cross-section of libraries-academic, government, public-and focused on a number of the current barriers to community engagement. Topics discussed included understanding the various needs of library users, particularly if the demographics of the community that a library serves changes; forming partnerships with library organizations and government agencies at both the state and federal levels; ensuring that communication with the public is as clear and direct as possible, so that it can reach the greatest number of people; and periodically reassessing library needs and the resources available for meeting those needs, and adjusting outreach strategies accordingly.

At the end of the conference, participants were asked to reflect on the ideas they had discussed and the issues that had arisen in those talks, via three “takeaway” questions. The questions, and the consensus responses that participants offered, are below.

What are your strategies for assessing and responding to needs?

  • When conducting needs assessments, seek the input of not just library staff, but also community members. Identify a group of frequent library patrons and community leaders from whom you can regularly collect candid feedback.
  • Learn more about the demographics and specific needs of the population your library serves, either by gathering and analyzing information or by using data that another organization, such as the U.S. Census Bureau, has already collected. Become especially familiar with underserved groups and overcome any pre-existing notions that staff might have about the characteristics and needs of those groups.
  • Become familiar with the community organizations with which your library can collaborate to meet the needs of all people the library serves. These include literacy councils, state and federal agencies, and professional organizations, and they should not be limited to library-focused groups.
  • After forming relationships and collecting information, make certain that your library actually acts upon the data, through analyzing them and devising appropriate strategies for meeting the user needs identified.

How do you cultivate and strengthen partnerships?

  • Maintain an open mind regarding the role that your library can play in meeting the needs of particular populations within the community. Remember that non-library organizations might be better equipped to address certain issues. Avoid becoming involved with too many short-term projects.
  • Before reaching out to potential partners, research the groups to ensure that they have long-term objectives similar to yours. This will make it more likely your partners will continue working with you beyond just a single project.
  • Focus on local organizations that already have a working relationship with the groups you are trying to reach. In building relationships outside of the community and expanding the scope of a project, seek assistance from state libraries, which can facilitate partnerships with relevant institutions, and federal agencies, which can provide information on key laws and regulations.
  • During the course of a project, monitor its success, through metrics and other measurements, and make adjustments as needed, especially to account for specific local needs.

How can local projects and programs help inform the rest of the profession?

  • A more-thorough grasp of community needs can increase opportunities for the library as a whole to engage with a larger segment of the population, while also giving staff members professional-development opportunities through the various projects. This mindset can help a library look beyond just its internal issues and consider the institution’s broader role in the community it serves.
  • In planning and implementing these projects, libraries need to take a long-term approach that will lead to systematic change, rather than addressing just the immediate needs of targeted groups. Because these efforts will require lengthy partnerships, libraries need to be careful in selecting the organizations with which they collaborate, particularly since these partnerships will ultimately affect a library’s reputation.
  • Libraries need to familiarize themselves with the “markets” that they will target. While a library wants to appeal to as many people as possible, trying to meet the needs of every single group or individual will make the message less-focused.
  • The feasibility and potential long-term impact of a project should be addressed at the beginning, particularly by using the data collected on community needs. Taking such an approach will ensure that a library can track the extent to which the project is meeting its goals and whether a specific initiative should be redefined or abandoned altogether.
  • As much funding as there is for the project, the long-term success will be determined ultimately by staff initiative and engagement with partners.
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Last month, the University of Maryland’s iSchool and the University’s Information Policy & Access Center released a report on the future of the master’s degree in library science, at least in the degree’s current form. The report is the result of a year-long collaborative effort, including discussions with the broader community, to determine how an MLS degree can best meet today’s changing economic, demographic, and information trends. In particular, the committee sought to address the issues of what value an MLS degree has, what a program of study to attain an MLS degree should include, and how that program should reflect the skills that library and information science professionals will need in the coming years. Although the report focuses specifically on how to transform the University of Maryland’s degree program, the findings reflect broader trends that likely apply to library and information science programs across the country.

The report identifies the following key trends that will shape the MLS degree.

  • As physical collections decrease in importance, the emphasis will need to shift to engagement with library users and the broader community.
  • Despite these changes, the core values of librarianship-including access, intellectual freedom, and preservation-remain consistent.
  • Future professionals in the information-science field will need to possess skills beyond just familiarity with a collection’s content, including collaborating with co-workers and patrons, familiarizing one’s self with changing technologies and training others in their use, and applying problem-solving skills to a fluid work environment.
  • With the definition of librarianship expanding, an MLS may no longer be necessary if one has training in related areas, such as instructional design or information technology.
  • With socio-economic disparities still prevalent (and, in some cases, increasing), libraries will need to consider how their services can best meet the needs of as broad a range of users as possible, including by forming partnerships with community organizations to address such social issues as education and health care.
  • As information specialists, librarians will need to collect and analyze data, particularly related to the needs of various groups in the community, in order to evaluate how library services can best serve that community.
  • With youth being one of the key groups that libraries can benefit, librarians will need to collaborate with local educational institutions, particularly in promoting pre-kindergarten programs and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) activities.
  • As data continue to play an increasing role in everyday life, library organizations will need to take the lead in collecting, sifting through, and analyzing those data.

The report also identifies several ways in which these trends will impact the form that an MLS degree takes.

  • The degree will need to prepare librarians not just to work in a back room, but to engage actively with the public and solve problems collaboratively.
  • The MLS curriculum will need to balance the teaching of skills (database-searching, for instance) with impressing upon students the correct approaches (such as teamwork and community engagement) for addressing the challenges of the profession.
  • To ensure that the right mix of individuals will be entering the field, MLS programs will need to recruit students who not only have a love of reading and knowledge, but also are community-service oriented and can embrace change easily.
  • The degree program must give students the ability and confidence for “thinking outside the box” and taking risks, as these attributes will be critical for thriving in an ever-changing information environment.

To read the full report, go here.

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Information-Literacy Standards for Students in STEM Disciplines

Ten years ago, a joint task force made up of representatives from ALA, ACRL, and STS-put together a set of information-literacy standards for students in the hard sciences, including engineering and technology. The standards were based on the ACRL Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education and were modified to fit the specific needs of students in the hard sciences and technology. Having a set of standards specific to these subject areas was considered crucial, as the fields of technology, science, and engineering presented particular obstacles to locating, analyzing, retrieving, and using scholarly sources. Among these challenges were the following.

  • Since a significant number of the articles in the hard sciences were published in expensive peer-reviewed journals, access to sources was sometimes restricted.
  • As the hard sciences were becoming increasingly interdisciplinary, it was necessary to consult sources in more than one subject area in order to gather all of the needed information on a particular topic.
  • Students in the hard sciences needed to apply their research not just to written papers, but to more hands-on activities, such as laboratory research.

To meet these challenges, the report’s authors came up with five broad standards, under which there were, at the time, 25 total performance-indicators, to assess students’ information-literacy skills in the hard sciences and technology. The report was considered a “living” document that would be subject to modification as needs, expectations, and resources change. Feedback from librarians, students, and administrators was, and still is, encouraged.

In light of the need for input, do you think the most recent version of the report is up-to-date, especially taking into account the trends and technologies that are currently impacting student research in the hard sciences and across all disciplines? Are there particular standards or performance indicators that you would modify, replace, or do away with completely? The full report can be accessed here. A summary is below.

Standard One: The information-literate student determines the type and amount of information needed.

  1. The student identifies a research topic or hypothesis and consults with the instructor to determine the scope of the question.
  2. The student becomes aware of the various types of sources (scholarly vs. non-scholarly, primary vs. secondary), while also recognizing that some materials in electronic format may not be freely available.
  3. The student understands how scientific and technical knowledge is produced and distributed, while also being aware that information is organized into various disciplines and sometimes falls across more than one.
  4. The student determines what information is available on the topic and consults experts to identify additional sources, while putting together a realistic timeline for obtaining the necessary information.

Standard Two: The information-literate student devises and implements an effective search strategy.

  1. The student identifies the best investigative technique (literature review, laboratory experiment, simulation, etc.) for finding information, in addition to determining what databases and other information-retrieval resources are available and how to access them.
  2. The student puts together an effective search strategy that includes keywords and Boolean operators, while using citations and references to identify additional useful sources.
  3. The student navigates various classification systems (call numbers and indexes) to locate information in print sources, while also becoming familiar with interlibrary loan services so that one can obtain additional materials, as needed. If the student is conducting an experiment or simulation, the student gathers the relevant data through surveys, interviews, and other appropriate methods.
  4. The student analyzes the quality of the information gathered and identifies any gaps, while at the same time redefining the research question and conducting additional searches, if necessary.
  5. The student uses technology (bibliographic management software, for instance) to organize the retrieved records, while also becoming familiar with different citation styles.

Standard Three: The information-literate student analyzes the gathered information and decides whether additional sources are needed or the research topic itself should be redefined.

  1. The student understands the structure of a scientific research paper and can identify the key concepts.
  2. The student determines the validity of the information in the paper by distinguishing between scientific fact and personal opinion, while considering how well the author or authors present the argument.
  3. The student integrates the most-useful themes and arguments from various papers to enhance one’s understanding of the research topic.
  4. The student compares this new knowledge to past understanding and, if necessary, reevaluates currently-held beliefs about the topic.
  5. The student verifies the accuracy of one’s analysis by discussing the conclusions with instructors, fellow students, and others conducting research in the field.
  6. The student determines whether the original search should be conducted again, with new concepts and sources included this time.
  7. The student evaluates any additional retrieved information, and the search process as a whole, so that one can conduct searches on similar topics more effectively in the future.

Standard Four: The information-literate student grasps the ethical and social issues connected to retrieving and using information, which allows one to conduct research accordingly.

  1. The student understands the legal and socio-economic issues related to information technology, including privacy, censorship, and copyright.
  2. The student obeys the laws, rules, and guidelines for gathering and using information, including the rules for plagiarism and (in the case of laboratory experiments) the use of human and animal subjects.
  3. The student gives appropriate credit to sources when writing or presenting the results of one’s research.
  4. The student takes a creative approach to presenting the research, using data-mining and visualization to draw out and display trends.
  5. The student evaluates the effectiveness of the final product of the research process, considers alternative strategies for finding and using information, and applies any needed changes to the process in the future.
  6. The student clearly conveys the results of the research to others, taking into account the audience and the technology available for presenting.

Standard Five: The information-literate student acknowledges that information technologies are constantly changing, which makes information literacy a lifelong learning process.

  1. The student stays up-to-date by reading literature in the field and applying one’s knowledge to analyzing research from different subject areas.
  2. The student recognizes the impact of emerging, web-based technologies on information production and retrieval, particularly in scholarly communications.
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ACRL Report on Library Trends, Part III

A summary of the remainder of ACRL’s 2015 Environmental Scan is below. The full report can be read at http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/publications/whitepapers/EnvironmentalScan15.pdf.

Discovery Services

Shared Integrated Library Systems (ILS)/Resource Management Systems (RMS)

  • In an effort to make all parts of the collection as accessible as possible, regardless of the type of item (print, electronic, media, etc.), libraries are increasingly putting “discovery services” into place, which will require having staff with the relevant training. Additionally, with the growth of consortia, institutional repositories, and other forms of sharing across institutions, opportunities abound for sharing of resources on an ever-larger scale. (The Illinois Heartland System is an example.)
  • Since this sharing of resources involves many stakeholders (individual libraries, the institutions of which they are a part, consortia, individual patrons), the differing expectations and information-seeking habits among users need to be taken into account when designing discovery services. In particular, options for sorting and organizing results should be flexible enough to accommodate various types of users.


  • With discovery services becoming increasingly common and diverse, resource-sharing is occurring on an even larger scale than before, with partnerships between national organizations and private companies substantially increasing the amount and variety of information that is available to the public. This includes sources that are not in “traditional” format, such as tweets; an agreement between the Library of Congress and Twitter will create a searchable database of them.
  • As the different organizations involved in these large-scale collaborations often have incompatible computer systems, making them “information silos”, combining their databases while ensuring ease of access is an ongoing challenge. Open-source programs are allowing searching across databases, while saving organizations the trouble of integrating their computer infrastructure.

User-Driven Research: Linked Data, Data Mining, and Analytical Tools

  • With research increasingly being directed by individual interests and skill levels, libraries need to provide users with the tools for effectively locating and evaluating information on their own. These include platforms for data mining, such as HathiTrust.
  • Libraries need to keep in mind that, for those conducting independent research, the goal is not just uncovering hard data, but making the connections necessary for creating new knowledge. Such efforts can be aided by text-analysis tools, such as Voyant Tools and Google Books N-Gram Viewer, and the new information that is uncovered can be conveyed not just in written format, but also visually.


Library Facilities

Making New Use of Space

  • Libraries continue to be seen as crucial to students’ success, but their role has changed from being repositories for information to acting as “learning commons” fostering collaboration and active learning. As print items take up less physical space in the library, it will need to be transformed into a user-friendly environment that accommodates different learning styles and provides various services, from tutoring assistance to cutting-edge technology. Creative use of space will be especially critical for those libraries that do not have the funding for a renovation, or that have limited space to begin with because they have to share the building with other departments on campus.
  • As libraries make these changes, they will need to be certain that the modifications meet curricular needs and help the institution as a whole achieve its mission. One area in which the new technology might be able to play a particularly relevant role is digital scholarship. At the same time, however, libraries will also need to ensure that they don’t disregard the “traditional” library services, such as circulating books and providing a space for quiet study and research.

3-D Services, Makerspaces, and Technology Services

  • Many libraries are going beyond just the “usual” high-tech services and are providing devices and programs, such as makerspaces (workshops for hands-on activities, such as building a robot), that have generally not been associated with libraries in the past. Having this new technology not only enhances library services, but it also increases the library’s profile on campus and makes it even more of a “hub” of student and faculty learning and interaction. Even when some students do not need to incorporate technology into their assignments, it can still act as a “draw”, since students may not have experienced the technology before and are interested in learning how it works.
  • In the process of implementing these changes, libraries will need to make certain that they have adequate support services for the new technologies, such as multimedia labs and 3-D printers. Since existing staff don’t always have the time to maintain the new technology, even with training, libraries may need to hire additional staff, or, if that is not possible, seek assistance from the IT department on campus. Given that much of the equipment is quite expensive and fragile, libraries will also need to have policies in place that clearly explain proper use and list fines or other penalties for damaging or misplacing equipment.


Scholarly Communication

Academic Library as Publisher

  • In recent years, libraries have played an increase role in scholarly publishing, and even those libraries that are not currently involved have expressed an interest in becoming so. Most of the materials that libraries have produced are journals (the majority of which are open-access), although libraries have also put out monographs and technical reports.
  • In addition to providing libraries with an opportunity to work with scholars in various fields and build campus relationships, publishing also gives different libraries another opportunity to collaborate on a project of shared interest. The Library Publishing Coalition, a member-backed organization that was formed in 2014 and provides support for research and publishing by libraries, is an example of this kind of cooperation.

Copyright Issues and Fair Use

  • Since the forms of technology and scholarly communication that libraries use are changing rapidly, copyright law is not always able to keep pace. As a result, libraries are often forced to rely on best practices, particularly the guidelines for fair use. There have been efforts in recent years to devise a universal set of rules, such as those drawn up by the CMSI (Center for Media and Social Impact) at the American University School of Communication.
  • It is necessary for libraries to have staff members (either through training existing staff or, when possible, by hiring new staff) who are conversant in the main issues related to copyright, including fair use and authors’ rights. Having this expertise available puts libraries into an ideal position to develop institution-wide policies on these issues.


  • With an increasing amount of scholarly communication taking place online, including in “nontraditional” formats (i.e., comments made on social-media websites), “alternative” metrics are being used to measure research output and keep track of scholarly communication. These measurements are in addition to the traditional ones, such as citation counts.
  • A standard set of altmetric measures is still in the planning stages, although several major initiatives have been undertaken, including the NISO’s (National Information Standards Organization) “Alternative Assessment Metrics Initiative”. So far, altmetrics has received broad support from the scholarly community, especially since using altmetric measures would likely increase the reputation of a journal and, by extension, the papers published in it.
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2015 ACRL Report on Library Trends, Part II

An overview of the middle section of ACRL’s 2015 Environmental Scan is below. (The full text of the document can be found here.) I’ll have an overview of the last part of the report later this week.

Research Data Services

Responses to U.S. Government and Funding Agencies’ Policies

  • Recent years have seen increased efforts by the federal government, in particular the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), to provide as much access as possible to scientific research. The goal is for the public, businesses, and members of the scientific community to be able to view the direct results of federally-backed scientific research, via peer-reviewed publications and electronic data. In making such a large amount of research publically available, the government will need to take into account the confidentiality and privacy issues that will likely arise.
  • As curators of information in all its formats, libraries will have a significant role in making this research available. Collaboration will be essential for developing top-notch digital platforms that can make scholarly research available in multiple formats and to users at different institutions.
  • At the same time, libraries will need to balance institutional needs and resources with broader pressures in academia and government, not to mention international competition. With their expertise in managing and preserving information, libraries are positioned to play a key role in helping government agencies make as much of their own information available to the public as possible.

Understanding Researchers’ Data Sharing and Management Practices

  • As large a role that libraries can play in making scholarly research more-broadly available, that role will be restricted if researchers are limited by institution-wide rules affecting the ways in which research data can be managed and shared. Even if researchers are not hindered by institutional regulations, their work can still fall by the wayside, in terms of accessibility and online preservation, if individual researchers and their colleagues are not aware of the latest trends and procedures regarding data sharing.
  • At the same time, libraries and other actors within the organization do need to familiarize themselves with researchers’ specific needs. Although programs for disseminating data and research may already be in place, these may not meet the specific requirements for making work in a particular field more accessible. The ways in which data are collected, analyzed, and shared may vary from discipline to discipline, especially between the hard sciences and the humanities.

Advances in Data-Curation Services

  • Even though academic libraries are have long been a key player in collecting and preserving data, the changing amounts and types of information being produced require that libraries reach out to other departments, and even institutions, in order to manage those data as effectively as possible. Libraries may have to form partnerships with departments or institutions with which they have not collaborated in the past, especially to gain access to information on the standards used in various fields to collect and preserve data.
  • That having been said, libraries still have a major role to play in deciding which curation practices that are created or modified will ultimately have the largest impact in the long run. It will be crucial to train library staff, through continuing education and other professional-development activities, to keep them up to speed on the latest policies and programs, especially those related to specialized areas of research in the hard sciences. At the same time, library schools will need to incorporate instruction on the latest data-curation practices into their curricula.

Data Information Literacy: National and Regional Projects

  • Ensuring data literacy among students and other library users has long been one of the main goals of broader information-literacy efforts. The ongoing relevance of data literacy was recently underscored by a new list of core competencies for information literacy that includes skills in data management.
  • To make data literacy and data management a significant part of information literacy, data librarians will need to make their library colleagues aware of the vital role that data literacy plays in successful library use. At the same time, data librarians will need to familiarize themselves with broader standards for information literacy, so that they can shape data-literacy programs to match those requirements.
  • Data librarians should also educate themselves on programs that have worked at the national level. so that they can determine which aspects of those programs would be most useful at the institutional or regional level. Such broader programs include the New England Collaborative Data Management Curriculum (NECDMC), among various medical and scientific libraries in the Northeast.

Data-Management Services: New Specialties for Subject Librarians

  • Libraries are playing an increasing role in locating, recording, and managing data, not just in the hard sciences, but in the humanities. With data-management services therefore becoming an area of increasing importance to libraries, it is crucial that, whenever possible, libraries hire individuals to specialize as data-management librarians, rather than assigning the duties to existing staff members.
  • Due to the broad reach of data-management services, however, some existing staff members may need to be retrained, regardless, in order to fill gaps in knowledge of the latest trends in collecting and sifting through data. Surveys show that library administrators need to become more aware that staff may not have all of the skills and experiences needed for managing such large and diverse amounts of data. Providing ongoing professional-development opportunities in this area will be critical.
  • Due to these changes, it may even be necessary for libraries to restructure themselves organizationally, so that they will be better-equipped to meet the needs of data researchers. For such a reorganization to be successful, increased collaboration among departments within the library will be essential, as librarians from different backgrounds will need to pool their knowledge into data-management projects.
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