A Guardian supplement published yesterday explores the achievements of academic libraries in the UK, assesses current challenges and looks forward to the future.
Sponsored by JISC and published free with yesterday’s Education Guardian, the supplement begins with some of the questions raised by the recently published Google Generation report, commissioned by JISC and the British Library, which explored the issue of ‘information literacy’. The report called for libraries to respond urgently to the changing needs of their users and to understand the new means of searching and navigating information.
In a lead article, editor Stephen Hoare says that academic libraries are indeed rising to the challenges and, he writes, ‘changing faster than at any time in their history. Information technology, online databases, and catalogues and digitised archives have put the library back at the heart of teaching, learning and academic research on campus.’
The supplement also explores the ways in which libraries are changing physically as they incorporate functions more commonly associated with leisure activities and become more flexible and technology-rich ‘learning spaces’. Other articles explores open access, the phenomenon of ‘Library 2.0 – the integration of user generated content with traditional library content – e-books, new business models, digitisation, digital preservation and much more.
Among the areas of activity funded or supported by JISC covered in the supplement are: the repositories partnership Sherpa; JISC’s student expectations research; services such as Intute, copac and the Archives Hub; the digitisation programme, including projects such as the Archival Sound Recordings and the British Library 19th century newspapers project; the LOCKSS journals preservation project; the electronic e-theses online service EThOS; the national e-books observatory project, and a number of others.
The supplement marks the start of ‘Libraries of the Future’, an attempt by JISC to initiate a debate about academic libraries and to open up – with partner organisations and librarians themselves – a debate about the future of the academic and research library.