Our work as librarians is to assist researchers and faculty. These assists are the critical marker of our success. Our role is to get pertinent information to researchers and faculty so that they can achieve their goals. We “get” them information by purchasing, archiving and presenting information in usable formats.
And, how do researchers and faculty perceive our role? Every three years, Ithaka S + R surveys faculty on attitudes toward library functions of gateway, buyer, and archive. I used the 2006 Report as a jumping off place for my poster Reflecting on Our History: Digitizing Materials for Hospital Archives. That report found the functions of buyer and archive remaining high over time. Our function of information gateway is steadily declining. The 2009 Report tells the same story.
- Declining interest in the library building. They are not coming in to consult with us. But, that’s not news, is it?
- Declining interest in the online catalog. Neither is this.
- Increasing interest in the general-purpose search engine (i.e. Google). Again, no surprise. Faculty don’t want to go through a library portal via a secure server–even with all the promises of alerting and discovery tools. For them, the “added value” just isn’t there.
- Even more interest in the discipline-specific research resource. Here’s where we need to pay attention. Faculty prefers to search within their area of expertise. These searches give the best yield. At the same time, faculty (particularly the scientists) want network-level services. In other words, we need to be “in the cloud”. We need to be “googled”. There needs to be “an app” for us. A discipline-specific app.
What’s our perceived value?
Gateway–under 60%, scientists 45%
Archive–70%, scientists 65%
Buyer–90%, scientists just under 90%
In 2006, 8% of science faculty felt that librarians were becoming less important. This number climbed to 20% in 2009. Ouch.
So what’s up? Faculty wants us to buy the material (90%), archive it (65-70%), but they don’t want to come to us for it. Do we whine about this? Or do we position ourselves better.
Bounce Pass. Lee Rose, author of The Basketball Handbook: winning essentials for players and coaches, tell us this about passing:
A real asset for passers in basketball is good vision. Everyone has heard coaches say of an excellent passer “He sees the floor well.” This means that the player, with his head up so that he can see the court, has good passing instincts.
So, head’s up. Let’s work on our peripheral vision so that we respond well. We’ve got the material that they need in order to make their goal.
How do we get materials to our faculty in a manner that:
- Doesn’t force them to change? (what a concept!)
- They can catch it in stride?
- They can use it immediately?
I’m afraid I have more questions than answers here.