New library roles focus on web services and information literacy: survey

A new survey highlights growth areas for library staff; predicts declines in more established areas.

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New library roles are expected to focus on emerging areas such as web services, digital preservation, and instruction and information literacy services, according to a new survey of academic library leaders in the US.

Ithaka S+R’s Library Survey polled academic library directors in the USA to determine their strategic challenges, and to find out more about the organisational dynamics which affect their activities.

The survey also found that declines are expected in more established areas such as reference, technical services, and print collections management. At the same time, the survey reports, many libraries are now placing greater emphasis on increasing staff working on special collections, and on providing faculty members with services related to repositories or publishing.

Respondents said that the top three primary constraints on their ability to make desired changes in their library were lack of financial resources; lack of staff skills in key areas; and challenges in implementing new technologies.

The survey also explores the response of libraries to the challenges of new online learning initiatives. Among institutions providing some form of online education, a substantial share of respondents did not feel that their libraries were fully prepared to support students enrolled in online courses.

Not surprisingly, given the interest in how libraries can best guide users to the scholarly content they need, the implementation of discovery services remains a high priority, with nearly three quarters of respondents stating that their library has implemented a discovery service. For 81% of institutions who have implemented a discovery service, it is the default search tool on their library home page.

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