Key themes and trends in HE

Expected changes to the demographics of the student body has implications for HE libraries.

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has published its 2019 summary of the key themes and trends influencing what is happening in libraries and HE (called an Environmental Scan).

The generation cohort of incoming students has shifted from millennials to Gen Z.

Gen Z traits include:

  • Concern about college costs
  • Concern about global issues and societal problems. These concerns may be reflected in their choice of studies, research projects, and their co-curricular activities
  • The desire to be an entrepreneur
  • Expect to learn practical skills for the workplace
  • Expect technology to be incorporated in their course instruction
  • Less hedonistic and more serious in their worldview

Implications for libraries and library services

Academic librarians will continue to adapt new technologies, services, and approaches to support student learning. Libraries face pressure for space as campus demands for real estate increase. Libraries will continue to shrink on-site collections by shifting to e-content and off siting print materials to make room for new services and additional study spaces. To meet the challenges of allocating space for both collections and services, libraries need to consider published research studies, local data, and engage their communities.

Shifts in student choice of major may change campus hiring and research priorities which could affect library collection decisions. Technology-focused students could increase the remote use of library databases and services. Or it might make students less likely to contact librarians for assistance. There will surely be challenges for library awareness, marketing, and outreach.

Academic libraries have the opportunity to lead the way in increasing faculty and staff diversity through hiring and retaining diverse populations. This can be done by creating and fostering academic library workplaces in which staff with diverse backgrounds and perspectives can succeed.  Library administrators need to seek out and provide for faculty and staff development opportunities that promote intercultural awareness and competencies.

Libraries should have a good understanding of Plan S and its implementation details. Libraries can establish themselves as the campus experts in authorship rights and open access requirements. By partnering with campus stakeholders to develop an institutional open access policy, libraries can raise awareness and help researchers retain rights to their scholarly works.

The full report can be read here.  The 2019 Environmental Scan