Researchers’ Use of Academic Libraries and Their Services
(Research Information Network/Consortium of Research Libraries, Apr. 2007)
This study, which examined the attitudes and perceptions of over 2250 researchers and 300 academic librarians in the UK, was intended to be a forward-looking “solid base of evidence” on the challenges and expectations around the changing relationship between researchers and libraries. Perhaps most alarming are the study’s findings that —such as in the case of researchers’ use of Google and social software for exchanging information— that the library has been completely bypassed in favour of “vulnerable solutions” (p.12).
Reported shifs in the research practice include: an increase in e-research, cross-institution collaborations and interdisciplinary work, researchers visit the library more infrequently (due to increased availability of digital materials), widespread use of Google as a search tool, use of social networking for sharing of information among younger researchers, limited knowledge regarding Open Access and use of a limited range of familiar discovery tools when seeking information.
The study also pointed to some expected challenges for academic libraries, such as competing demands on resources and funds (which often prioritize teaching and learning over research), the need for better metadata and digital finding aids (in order to improve access to digitized matter), and an increased need for data management, storage and preservation.
Key recommendations include: re-examining the library’s role in the “research cycle,” skills training to familiarize researchers with finding tools, continued emphasis on consortial deals, and further development of library-led Virtual Research Environments (VRE’s). A need for flexibility was emphasized, in regards to both content and services, as well as improved communication between libraries and researchers.