Friday, May 4, 2007

Researchers’ Use of Academic Libraries and their Services: A report commissioned by the Research Information Network and the Consortium of Research Libraries Academic libraries have for centuries played critically-important roles in supporting research in all subjects and disciplines within their host universities and colleges. But the last decade has brought a sea-change in relationships between researchers and libraries. Technological developments and the availability of information resources online have changed how research is done, and also the services that academic libraries provide to their research communities. Both researchers and librarians have welcomed the benefits these changes have brought, adapting rapidly to them and seeking to exploit their potential to the full. And they both look forward to further change in the coming years.

With new technological developments and innovations come new challenges and new expectations. In commissioning this study, the RIN and CURL have sought to establish a solid base of evidence on how libraries have been developing their services and strategies, and how researchers have been making use of those services. But we have also sought to look forward, to gain a perspective from both researchers and librarians as to how they envisage library services developing in the future.

This study has involved major surveys of researchers and of librarians, and an intensive series of focus group discussions and interviews. The result is an authoritative account of the current state of relationships between researchers, academic libraries, and the services those libraries provide; and of perspectives on how they might develop for the future. The evidence base is now in place.

The key task now is to consider all the lessons and implications that can be drawn from it. The report provides important hints, in highlighting, for instance, the importance of better communications and dialogue between libraries and researchers. But there is much more to be done. We shall be working with our key stakeholders to build on this study to develop policy and strategic advice to libraries and information services, their host universities and colleges, and funding bodies on how best to support and develop library services in the coming years. Researchers rely on effective information services, more than they often realise. Ensuring that libraries provide the services that researchers need, and that researchers can make the most effective use of those services, are critically-important priorities.
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SOURCE: ResourceShelf, 20 April 2007