Issues affecting libraries in 2008


In an earlier post, I talked about the ACRL 2007 Environmental Scan, which identified the top ten assumptions for the future of libraries. The publication also identified a number of emergent issues; “issues that, while not yet fully established in the scholarly literature of the field, were regularly represented both in the professional literature and in informal channels for scholarly and professional discussion (e.g., Weblogs). Many of these “emergent issues” are already of considerable local significance in our libraries and will be of increasing importance in years to come.” Here is the unranked list of emergent issues:

  • There will be broader collaboration between academic, public, special, and school librarians on topics of common concern, e.g., public engagement, media literacy.
  • Pressure to make library facilities environmentally friendly will increase. Developments in this area will likely take place as part of broader institutional efforts.
  • Library facilities and services will become increasingly integrated with research, teaching, and learning programs across campus, including those housed in information technology programs and student services program.
  • The library’s print materials will be moved from prime library space and relocated to off-site locations; space currently housing collections will be repurposed to support collaborative learning, new modes of research support, and interactive learning areas.
  • Tensions will grow each year as decisions are made that determine what portion of the budget will be used to purchase standardized digital collections as opposed to what amount will be used to preserve and provide access to unique collections held by the library.
  • Library patrons will use semantic Web search techniques to locate information resources.
  • The need to meet the needs of e-science and e-scholarship in the social sciences and the humanities will increase and require new approaches to the design and delivery of core library services.
  • Collaboration between academic libraries and university publication programs will increase as their roles become increasingly complementary.
  • The focus for academic libraries will shift from the creation and management of large, on-site library collections to the design and delivery of library services.
  • Regional and professional accrediting bodies will require greater accountability using valid assessment techniques.
  • A crisis will occur in Library and Information Science (LIS) education as schools prepare students to assume new roles in academic libraries and as contributors to campus programs.
  • Interdisciplinary studies, new models of undergraduate and graduate education, and newly developed areas of inquiry will stretch library resources and service models.
  • The tools and techniques of social computing will provide new opportunities for the design and delivery of library resources and services, but will also make increasing demands on library staff and systems.

Many of these issues are already driving activity at Red Deer College, and the library is actively planning around these and other trends.


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