From the Dean. . .
Last semester I was asked to join a new Steering Committee of the Association of Research Libraries, Transforming Research Libraries. We held our initial meeting in Chicago and spent most of the day determining our charge and our focus. The lists we developed tell me much about the critical issues in research libraries.
After considerable discussion we developed a list of issues of concern. We then worked through the list to identify those that were being addressed well by other organizations, leaving us free to work on those that are not yet as well covered. Here is the list we developed:
- New roles for librarians including responsibilities for digitization and publishing and responsibilities for new information formats including data curation.
- The development and implementation of enhanced mechanisms for research collaboration.
- Defining what it means to be an outstanding research library and what it means to be a transformed library.
- The 21st century collection, including what should be considered an “ARL collection,” how to make paper and digital collections persistent, and collaborative scholarly communication programs.
- The transformation of technical services to meet the needs of the 21st century library.
- Developing active partnerships with academic computing.
- Generating institutional-level commitment to accountable collaborations.
- Methods of engaging others – deans, administrators, provosts and other leaders – in the changing library.
The group felt some issues were so important they added them to the list even though there are many other library groups addressing them – teaching and learning, library facilities, social networking, and shifting access to the network level. In each case the group agreed that ARL should focus on the aspects unique to research libraries since they were being broadly addressed in the profession.
After compiling this list, the hard part of the meeting was determining the focus for the coming year. The group decided to focus on twenty-first century research collections and transforming professionals’ roles in research libraries. The group believes these two issues are not only among the most critical but they are areas of great transformation in research libraries.
Collections have changed dramatically; the opportunity to purchase and create digital resources has changed the nature of collections while our print collections continue to grow and in many research libraries have become more specialized. The work we do in research libraries changes constantly, as we all know. Not only has our work changed but research libraries also employ an ever widening range of professionals. These new colleagues bring new ideas and new styles of work to add to the change in responsibilities and roles among those of us who have always worked in libraries.
I’ll be on the Steering Committee for two years, so I’m looking forward to the discussion and hearing how our colleagues at research libraries around the U.S. and Canada are meeting these challenges. Let me know what you think.