Saturday, November 10, 2012

Academic Library Roles

Below is a chart depicting the historical, current, and future roles of the academic library.   Do you think this is an accurate depiction?

Movarec, J.  (2012). The Future of Academic Libraries: An interview with Steven J. Bell. Education First. Retreived from

Future Issues Faced by Academic Libraries

In the article “2012 top ten trends in academic libraries”, the Association of College and Research Libraries Research Planning and Review Committee (a division of the ALA) discuss current and future issues academic libraries face. The ACRL determined the trends after extensive literature review and collaboration with experts. Listed below is the summary of trends established for the 2012-year:

  •     Academic libraries need to prove their worth to the principal institution.
  •    The developments of standards for data curation are not fully established and keep changing, creating increased challenges for libraries.
  •  Strategic planning and leadership for digital preservation is absent. Funding and the lack of standardized policy are the main barriers to the management and preservation of material.
  •  Universities and colleges are offering more online programs and classes and this impacts libraries. The expectations for developing collections and services are changing. 
  •    Technology is the driving force to radical new offerings of libraries. Open content options challenge the library’s role and puts pressure on them to develop new ways of fostering scholarship.
  •   Libraries are increasing their services and information access to mobile devices. Even vendors, such as JSTOR and EBSCOhost, are creating apps and mobile interfaces.
  • PDA (patron driven e-book acquisition) is on the rise and may become the standard for textbooks. Libraries have begun replacing stacks with low circulation with licensing agreements with vendors for libraries to acquire only those books in high demand. 
  •    Publishing models are changing and academic libraries must keep up.  “Developments relative to journals include open access to historical content, author-funded open access to new content, and uncertainty of the future” (ACRL 2012) of subscriptions with publishers.
  •    Staff must be innovative as new challenges arise. 
  •     Libraries are competing for user attention.  “Convenience affects all aspects of information seeking – the selection, accessibility, and use of source” (ACRL 2012)

Questions to think about:

Are these trends accurate? And can these be applied to forthcoming years?
How do academic libraries prove their worth?
How do expectations change with the insurgence of online class offerings?
What can libraries do to become more convenient to the patron?
How do these issues apply to public and special libraries? 

ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee. (2012). 2012 top ten trends in academic libraries. College & Research Libraries News, 73(6), 311–320. Retrieved from

Friday, November 9, 2012

Paradigm Shift: How Mobile and Self-Service Technologies are Transforming Library Service

There is no doubt that the greatest mission a library strives toward is to establish an environment for their patrons where they have the resources to become informed, literate, independent and creative contributors to their community.  Even under the strain of tightening budgets, librarians seek to provide greater access to more and more resources to make this possible.  Many libraries are finding creative ways to free up time, such as by implementing mobile and self-service technologies that encourage library users to help themselves, thereby allowing librarians to be more readily available to answer questions and assist patrons.  These new service paradigms are dramatically changing how patrons envision the library’s role in the community by offering unparalleled access to both familiar and innovative services.

“Make no mistake: mobile devices are revolutionizing library service,” writes Lisa Carlucci Thomas in her article surveying the position of mobile services in 2012.  While libraries and publishers work to resolve their disputes over access to ebooks, one thing is already for certain: ebooks have paved the way for mobile services.  Influenced by the introduction of ereaders and the proliferation of other mobile devices, the ever-growing interest in ebooks can be considered the catalyst responsible for sparking awareness on mobile users and the need for libraries to develop integrated mobile services into existing service infrastructures.  This article sends a clear message that libraries are rising to the challenge, whether by “improving mobile access to databases and ebook content” or addressing other “emerging features and services, such as mobile payment systems (Square, Google Wallet), checkins and gamification (Foursquare, GetGlue, QR codes, SnapTags), social sharing and content curation (Path, Tumblr, Instagram, PicPlz), place-based collections, and augmented reality tours (Scan Jose) built from library digital collections.”

Mobile services are transforming library service because they are helping patrons to become more self-reliant and knowledgeable concerning their own information needs, but what about for those patrons who don’t have access to their own mobile devices?  In his article on current developments in self-service technologies, Matt Enis observes the possibilities for a library where patrons use innovative terminals and hi-tech kiosks to do everything from browsing and downloading ebooks on various mobile devices they themselves check out and return, to simplifying and expediting a laundry list of community-related errands, such as the need to “buy a bus pass, register to vote, schedule a tee time at a local public golf course, or pay local taxes, bills, and traffic tickets.”  These technologies allow the library to bridge the gap between knowledge center and community center by “offer[ing] services beyond circulating materials and offering access to computers,” and releasing librarians from timely circulation tasks so they can focus “more on people and less on things.” 

As libraries move to provide more resources and services to patrons, these technologies will become a necessity. Libraries looking to establish mobile or self-service technologies should first evaluate the needs of their community and determine how these services fit in with the goals of the library.  Once established, marketing campaigns can work to increase awareness of new services.  And as new services make more time available to assist patrons, library staff can lead educational initiatives to help bring less confident patrons up to speed.  With these services, libraries are rapidly evolving to meet concurrent shifts in patron needs.

Questions to think about:
  1. What are the new skills that librarians are going to need to learn as their traditional tasks become obsolete?
  2. What are the different areas of focus that could arise as librarians spend less time on those traditional tasks and more time addressing the needs of individual patrons?
  3. What is the best way to make patrons aware of new services and to understand how to use emerging technologies?

Enis, Matt. (2012). Helping users help themselves with self-service technologies. Library Journal. Retrieved 

Thomas, Lisa Carlucci. (2012). The State of Mobile in Libraries 2012. Library Journal. Retrieved from

Check out the WSU Libraries Mobile app to see how librarians here at Wayne State are addressing the needs of mobile users.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Future of Library Funding: HB 5598

Bills are coming.  One would expect that the operating budget of the library would be constructed to cover the expense for the entire year.  However, this is not always what happens as unforeseen circumstances have a way of unraveling the most carefully constructed plans.  In Michigan, public libraries can currently count on an extra infusion of funds resulting of the fines which are generated by penal infractions.  That is, according to the current Michigan State Constitution and its two previous versions (1835, 1908, 1963), the proceeds from the fines collected pursuant to violations of the penal code go to local public libraries.  While there are a numerous sections and possible infractions of the penal code, the most common infraction is violating the speed limit.  For most of these cases, each fine results in a $100.00 contribution to a libraries budget.

But, this could change.  In the Michigan House of Representatives, HB 5598 would redirect the proceeds from the libraries to the local law enforcement agencies.   The net result would be to further reduce the budgets of public libraries across the state.  According to research conducted by the Michigan Library Association, the current structure of the penal code provides Michigan libraries with $27,000,000 annually.  If the penal code were modified, Michigan libraries would lose $19,000,000 annually.  With budgets already tight, many public libraries rely on the proceeds from penal code infractions and this decrease in funding would be dearly felt.

Not surprisingly, this modification is supported by police agencies whose budgets, like public libraries, are under constant strain.  The Senate version of the bill (SB 1330) was withdrawn by Senator Rick Jones (R) after libraries within his district explained the potential damage of the bill.  However, the House version (HB 5598) is still up for adoption in either the current session or, more likely, the next.  The passage if this bill will directly impact the future budgets of public libraries in Michigan.  Specifically, the passage of this bill has the potential to affect the services libraries offer their communities, the resources available, and the hours of operation.

What can you do?  Call your legislator.  The passage of HB 5598 would be bad for public libraries.     Moreover, it would mean that police agencies write tickets that would go directly add to their budget.  This conflict of interest was exactly why the writers of the original Michigan constitution directed proceeds from penal infractions to libraries instead of the law enforcement agencies or municipalities.

The future of libraries in the state of Michigan is dependent on the outcome of this bill.  If the bill becomes law, libraries will be forced to cut budgets and the implementation of new technologies and services could be slowed or halted for many libraries.  Thus, it is imperative that legislators be made to understand the negative consequences of this bill. 

Works Cited
Michigan Legislature (1963).  Constitution of the State of Michigan.  From

Michigan Legislature (2012, September 27).  Senate Bill 1130 (2012). From

Michigan Library Association (2012, October 25). Senator Jones Withdraws Parallel Ordinance Legislation.  From

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Serving Future Patrons Creatively

Libraries are looking for new ways to serve and intrigue their patrons. With the continual growth of technology and the impact of digitization at work in libraries, it is easy to predict that libraries will become merely community centers or technology labs. However, one new creative approach that libraries can consider is establishing access for creative development. Instead of remaining only as centers that provide access to information, libraries must develop new information, new inventions, and new content. Libraries can become “the place to go when [patrons] want to publish their own ebook, create and edit their latest song or video, or even design and print out plastic tools, toys, and prototypes.” Ways to begin this transition could begin simply by purchasing Apple computers that come pre-loaded with photo, music, and video editing software, or by providing photography or music classes.

Although it can be argued that by moving in this direction, libraries are actually becoming more like community centers, it is more likely that as patrons take advantage of these new resources that they will discover the full services and information access that the library provides. The article discusses that “libraries should begin considering potential new ways to generate their own content.” Several ways that this could happen are by offering scheduled meetings with librarians so that authors can get assistance in research and editing. Also, libraries can research ways to help authors print their materials at affordable rates (such as the Espresso Book Machine -- Finally, by adding self-published content to the library collection, the library not only builds a stronger clientele, but also a unique collection that reflects the community.

As libraries continue to explore creative new options, they could consider providing darkroom access to photographers, studio spaces for artists, specialized computer labs for inventors, or merely develop groups for these specialists to come and work together. This new movement will change libraries from being providers of information, to institutions who create the information that they provide.

Here is the link to the article: To Remain Relevant, Libraries Should Help Patrons Create

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

“Changing Spaces”: The New Designs of Libraries as Community Centers

Many libraries in the 21st century are changing their main focus from books in the print form to serve other needs of the community. Users are looking more for a place to work, to study or to gather rather than purely a place to find a book to read. One library director, Dan Gjelten, said “We’re moving books out and moving comfortable new furnishings in….and [also] replacing them with coffee shops.” Libraries have historically been a social institution and will continue to be so, but in a different physical environment.

This article mainly features architects discussing the physical changes of libraries. Architects are stating that the change of library design bridges across the divide of public and academic libraries. Both are serving the user needs for a place to come together, interact, and learn together. It is important to study exactly what the particular community needs in order to gain the funding for a large library design project like these. They also noted that with a smaller space for circulating materials, less full-time staff is necessary. This could contain costs to the new library spaces.

This article notes that one inspiring model of the change of library design to a community center is the central library in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The library has many amenities including a radio station, three restaurants, a bar and an organic market.

Here is the link to the full article;

Would your community benefit from a change in your public libraries design?

What are the negatives to losing space for physical materials circulating the library?

Would you like a public library like the one noted in Amsterdam?

Kelley, M. (2011, September 27). Changing Spaces: Exploring Future User Needs, Sustainability, and Value: Library by Design. In Library Journal Archive. Retrieved November 6, 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Libraries of the future

I'm sure we all agree, we have chosen to enter the Library profession at a time of radical change. Not to say that libraries are not constantly evolving, but as the digitization of information becomes more economical, efficient, and widespread, libraries and archives are faced with a major shift in material management. Use of space is changing, formats are changing, patron expectations are changing, all in line with this digital upswing. So what will tomorrow bring?

In 2010, a group of librarians, service providers, publishers and government agents assembled for a series of workshops sponsored by the British Library and the Society of College, National and University Libraries. These workshops were designed to develop scenarios of how teaching and research libraries might evolve under different economic and social pressures. Called the Academic Libraries of the Future project, the group developed three specific scenarios designed to facilitate strategic planning for academic libraries. These scenarios were created based on two particular axis, a State/Market axis, and a Open/Closed axis. You can find more detail about the project at

The question that comes about is: do we have to predict exactly what the future of libraries will be in order to be prepared for it? I believe that the fundamentals inherent in library ethics and culture will be critical in any possible scenario. As librarians, we are a facilitator between resource and patron, and regardless of socioeconomic forces, it remains imperative that our focus remains on service, regardless of what drives our infrastructure or dictates access.