Academic libraries are massive institutions which serve thousands of students and faculty and manage enormous quantities of data. Teams of dedicated staff are required to keep all the wheels turning, and a great deal of research goes into adapting practices to best serve the changing needs of those searching for information. We’ve gone through research from this year’s Charleston Library Conference to once again bring you the most important issues librarians around the world are working on.
Incorporating research staff into library management
Eliminating books from a collection may seem like sacrilege to those dedicated to their preservation, but it is indeed a difficult decision librarians must make to provide room for new acquisitions. But instead of making the choice on which books to keep or toss unilaterally or relying on data alone to guide them, Santa Clara University took a different approach. By coordinating in-depth feedback sessions with faculty members and reviewing titles that had seen no circulation in the past 15 years, the library was able to save 10% of volumes deemed valuable enough to retain that would have otherwise been weeded out. Libraries serve an enormous community of researchers, so it is important to continuously take into account their needs.
At Morressier, we’re no strangers to the challenges of taking traditionally printed materials into the digital age. Librarians at Yale University face similar hurdles when managing their archives. When moving newspaper microfilm to a digital environment, librarians have to weigh the features most useful to retain the context of the original source and thus replicate the experience of working with historical documents. They found in their study that features like disambiguation of results and more thorough call numbers would be helpful for researchers working with archival materials. Again, the key to the challenge is finding what works best for researchers and obtaining valuable feedback.
Expanding online presence
Much like the previous trend, libraries are finding new ways to innovate online and modernize their websites. Over a two-year period, library management at Georgia Tech designed and implemented an overhaul of their online services. Through a few successful collaborations, the team created a more robust online platform with a mobile-friendly interface that brought them closer to their desire to make every service and resource visible to researchers. We agree that more can be done to bring research out into the open, which is why we fully endorse this trend for 2020.
Cutting costs for students
Textbook fees for students can be astronomical, straining budgets and placing pressure on the affordability of education. Each time a new edition is issued, students are then forced to buy this title in lieu of a secondhand edition from previous years. To help solve this problem, university librarians have been working to expand their collections of e-books. E-resources come with the benefit of being accessible to multiple users at once and of course drastically reduce costs originating from printing. Librarians found that these strategies can result in nearly $1,000,000 in potential savings for students. Increasing access to science is a key driver to making breakthroughs happen.