Academic libraries, scholarly publishing and game playing

Information Today publishes a range of journals, newsletters, books and blogs in the information space, including a wealth of free online content. Here we bring you some recent highlights.

Academic libraries, in the UK at least, have never been busier.  The figures released recently by Research Libraries UK (RLUK) show that alongside this increase in use, libraries are central to their universities strategies and at their best act as a major attractor to potential students.  Phil Sykes, the Chair of RLUK is quite clear: "The modern university library is a vibrant and exciting place to be". Indeed, as they seek to meet the expectations of their users, they are very often leaders in the adoption of new technologies and new working models.

Going mobile

As the leading adopters of mobile communication are those in the 18-29 year age bracket it is hardly surprising that academic libraries are leading the way when it comes to using mobile technologies to support customer outreach. 

In the July/August issue of Computers in Libraries, Kate Kosturski and Frank Skornia discuss the many ways in which mobile technologies can be used to support the users - and potential users - of academic library services. These include:

·         Ensuring  a stripped down, mobile friendly website is available

·         Creating a library app and making others apps available to users

·         Providing text reference services  for non-smartphone users

·         Creating audio/visual library tours for iPod users

·         Providing eReader support services - by offering electronic reserves for example

·         Enabling 'roving reference' services for tablets

·         Working to support e-textbook use

Open Access and scholarly publishing

Writing in the latest issue of Online, Vera Münch reports on how open access (OA) is changing the face of academic publishing and how publishers, academics and information professionals must adapt. 

The vision for open access is one of a global, science-centred e-research environment that benefits from the use of collaboration tools.  8-10% of scholarly publishing worldwide is already appearing in fully or hybrid OA journals and the figure is set to grow. 

Open access is not without its challenges.  Publishers are looking for new business models in the OA landscape (Münch describes an example - Springer offer a flexible model in which the author decides whether they, or the customer, will pay).   New peer review processes are being explored.  If a global e-research vision is to be attained, then the diversity of national intellectual property frameworks could be a barrier.

Münch's article summarises some of the key presentations from the 2011 Academic Publishing in Europe Conference and highlight the fluidity of academic publishing.  It's something that all information professionals should be aware of, she concludes:  "The implications for library collections, subject matter curation, and quality control will be profound."

It's all in the game

Meanwhile, as academic publishers are concerning themselves with exploring new workable models, gamification is making itself felt in other areas of online publishing.  Customers are looking for more than 'a text based experience'.

Writing in EContent, Mike Thomson looks at how publishers are using gaming techniques to engage users and to build brand loyalty. 

Thomson quotes Nik Pai of SnakBlox (a web publishing platform) that gaming is "the fastest growing content [area] online".  Simply put, gaming can attract more users and encourage them to use you more frequently.  Context  is key - the game must reflect the interests of the audience of course. 

Photo by Dr.Regor via Flickr.

All of the articles mentioned above are freely available at Information Today.