10 Challenges Librarians Are Facing

June 4, 2013 Emily Gillingham

CAB handsAt the recent meeting of our North American Customer Advisory Board we asked librarians what are some of the challenges they face that they would like help with, and this is what we learned. You can vote for what you think is the number one challenge out of these here.

  1. Setting up access to content so that it’s easier to find and use – Access routes and all the various vendor platforms are a really complex landscape for both readers and the librarians who need to make sense of it all.
  2. Understanding how that content is used in their institution, and by whom – Librarians want to understand usage beyond what the current COUNTER reports deliver, eg. they want to know which articles are being read, in what disciplines, by which type of patron, in which faculty.
  3. Understanding their institution’s usage vs peer institutions – Is the usage their content is getting ‘good’ or ‘bad’ versus other institutions with a similar profile? What should be done to make it better?
  4. Demonstrating how the content they’ve bought has impacted on the outcomes of the institution – How can the library prove that it helped to produce a better student, bring in grant funding, make a discovery, secure a patent? Demonstrating the value proposition to those that hold the purse strings is really critical.
  5. How they can best present the nuances of licensing models to their patrons and upper management – Digital licensing models are complex and explaining these can be difficult to those who are not steeped in them.
  6. Embedding their services fully in the researcher and student workflow – To do this successfully they also need to intimately understand the needs and behavior of their users and the point of interactions with the library service. How do you deliver relevant information at the point of need with a service which makes a real difference to people’s daily lives?
  7. Supporting author/researcher education, especially early career researchers – Librarians are increasingly acting as knowledge consultants within their organizations and are called upon to deliver training to early year researchers which goes beyond the normal research skills training. This might include training on understanding copyright, how to write a grant proposal, how to get OA funds and include them in grant applications, how to get published in the best journals, etc.
  8. Developing their role with research data management tools – Is the library best placed within the institution to support the data curation and research management behaviors of the departments and the labs they support? If not libraries, then who?
  9. Evolving their roles and capabilities as librarians – Supporting the mixed economy of subscriptions plus Open Access and delivering on the expanding knowledge consultancy needs of their organizations requires a reconfiguring of librarian roles in a time of tighter resource.
  10. How should they reconfigure library policies to accommodate the mixed economy and the new realities – If they buy ebooks should they also buy print? How much should be apportioned to demand driven acquisition? Should they be buying textbooks at all? Is it the library’s role to administer OA fees? All these new issues are still being worked out and there is plenty of experimentation still going on.

Do these sound familiar to you? Let us know which of these are your top challenges in our Online Poll.

Many of these same issues were also raised by the society officers at the joint librarian and society advisory board meeting. A further blog post will explore these areas of shared concern.

About the Author

Library Relations, Wiley // In my Library Relations role I aim to represent the library community within Wiley and seek to improve our engagement and services to librarians, including running our International Customer Advisory Boards. I also work on our developing world program and am this year Chair of the Research4Life Executive Committee.

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