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Top trends for libraries in 2019

Academic libraries are constantly developing to ensure they can best support the changing needs of their students. As 2019 approaches, we’ve scoured the research from this year’s Charleston Library Conference to put together the biggest topics librarians around the world are working on right now. Read on to find out why technology, data, and early-stage research will play an integral role for all librarians in the new year.

Use data to cut costs

Libraries have many options when it comes to building out their resources. Unfortunately, they often don’t have the best overview of where and how effectively they are spending their money. Boulder Library took note and made it their goal to efficiently cut costs while still ensuring their students have the most relevant selection of e-books. They analyzed how often new resources were accessed over the course of four months to determine which e-books they should buy outright and which make more sense to loan instead. With this information, they put together a more cost effective purchasing model without negatively impacting their students’ access to essential research.

Promote early-stage research

There’s an increased awareness of how important it is to share data and information from the very beginning of the research process, rather than waiting months or even years to publish findings for the first time in a paper. The problem doesn’t lie in willingness, in fact a Springer Nature study found that 76% of researchers highly rate the importance of their data being discoverable, however almost half said that knowing how to organize this data is a challenge. They also listed confusion around copyright and where to share data as issues that are holding them back. In 2019, librarians should focus on integrating software tools that promote the sharing of early-stage research into their resources and engage in a dialogue with researchers to highlight how, why, and where they can share their work. 

Adopt agile project management

The terms ‘agile’ and ‘scrum’ are most closely linked to technology and entrepreneurship, but they can also be applied to a library environment. Librarians from the University of Florida tested out an agile project management framework to manage and plan their budget allocation – to great success. By adjusting their working style, they were able to better organize their budget management, gain a more in-depth overview of their spending and resources, and ultimately increase the efficiency of their team. Libraries can mirror their success by introducing principles that centre on an incremental, team-based approach and adopting collaborative software systems that can be shared across teams and partners. They should also reposition themselves as collaborative partners on projects, rather than purely service providers. 

Grow the collection team

The collections development team plays an essential role in identifying, acquiring, and managing library resources. With such a large scope of responsibilities, it makes sense that the team is broken down so that individual team members have full ownership of their own domain. That’s exactly what the Collection Development Unit from Kennesaw State Library did over the past five years. They identified four key areas and hired dedicated staff members to focus on monographs, the maintenance of government documents and special formats collection, liason management, and e-resources. By prioritizing and focusing their resources on a similar set of tasks, other libraries can ensure they work efficiently to offer a broad spectrum of services to their students.

Image courtesy of Iñaki del Olmo

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