The Top 10 Challenges Academic Librarians Face in 2016

September 14, 2016 Jen Cheng

156199309.jpgOne of our consistently popular posts over the years has been 10 Challenges Librarians Are Facing, so we felt the time was right to revisit this question. During the recent Sustainable Academic Libraries: Now and Beyond 2016 conference in Hong Kong, Wiley conducted a poll asking librarians to vote for the top challenges they face, which we’ve outlined below. Which challenges resonate with you?

1. Budget

Budget issues remained the top challenge for librarians at the Academic Library conference and across the globe. This includes: competing for funding, growing the library's resources within allocated means, and defending the amount of library resources.

2. Communicating about changes in the Library

Changes are inevitable in this digital age but communicating these changes and getting the necessary support for communications is challenging as there are typically many stakeholders involved in the process.

3. Declining patron requests for content

The need to validate library purchases and tight budgets often force librarians to decline patrons’ requests for content.

4. Career advancement

Equipping librarians with the skills they now need is imperative. Job training and career advancement opportunities are vital in helping librarians overcome the challenges they face at work. New and emerging competencies which were not required five to ten years ago, such as data visualization and communication skills, are now required for librarians to become effective at what they do.

5. Keeping up with changing technical requirements

Technology and the internet have had a huge impact on the library and the way it delivers services. The rapid digitization of information has impacted operations and systems in libraries within a very short span of time, resulting in gaps in the skills needed to operate a digital library.

6. Understanding research trends & the librarian’s role in the research cycle

The role a librarian plays in the process of connecting users to information goes beyond making content discoverable. New skill sets such as data management are necessary for librarians to stay ahead of research trends and provide users with the most relevant content in this era of information overload.

7. Staying current on policy changes

The complicated nature of the industry means librarians have to constantly keep abreast of new developments and policies in the scholarly publishing space. It is not easy to decipher the regulations and understand how the changes will affect the library landscape.

8. Managing library operations and tracking staff performance

The complex scholarly publishing network, coupled with an increasing pressure to demonstrate the library’s value, makes the management of library operations and staff performance tracking an ongoing challenge for librarians.

9. Conveying the value of librarians to researchers

Changes in the scholarly publishing space have redefined the roles of librarians, extending far beyond content curation. While this is happening, librarians are finding it a challenge to communicate the value of their work to their constituencies.

10. Managing continuous transition from a print to a digital-based collection

The transition of ‘print to digital’ has been one of the longest standing conversations in the library. On top of managing this transition, librarians are also participating in the dialogue around transforming the physical space in the library to foster better collaboration and accommodate other activities.

What are some of the challenges that you face? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Image credit: Greg Epperson/iStockphoto

About the Author

Jen Cheng

Content Marketing Strategist, Wiley //

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