academic libraries

6 growing trends taking over academic libraries

Horizon Report details short-and long-term technologies, trends that will impact academic libraries worldwide in the next 5 years.

Challenges to Technology Adoption

The report highlights significant challenges impeding technology adoption in academic libraries, which include:

(Solvable; understand how to solve):

  • Accessibility of Library Services and Resources: To meet the charge of antidiscrimination legislation and institutional policies, librarians are challenged to implement technologies and learning resources that may not be created with diverse needs in mind. The incorporation of universal design principles in library programming can improve the user experience for all patrons, states the report.
  • Improving digital literacy: According to the report, digital literacy transcends gaining isolated technological skills to “generate a deeper understanding of the digital environment, enabling intuitive adaptation to new contexts, co-creation of content with others, and an awareness of both the freedom and risks that digital interactions entail. Libraries are positioned to lead efforts to develop students’ digital citizenship, ensuring mastery of responsible and appropriate technology use, including online identity, communication etiquette, and rights and responsibilities.”

(Difficult; understand issue but solutions are elusive):

  • Adapting Organizational Designs to the Future of Work: Technology, shifting information demands, and the evolving roles of librarians are forcing them to rethink the traditional functional hierarchy. Libraries must adopt more flexible, team-based matrix-like structures to remain innovative and responsive to campus and patron needs.
  • Maintaining Ongoing Integration, Interoperability, and Collaborative Projects: For a growing number of academic and research libraries seeking to improve the research ecosystem, satisfy requirements of funding agencies, and alleviate administrative burdens on researchers, interoperability has become a key priority.

(Wicked; complex even to define, much less address):

  • Economic and Political Pressures: Academic libraries are increasingly prioritizing technologies and digital resources that reduce the expenses associated with delivering services. “Complicating this challenge is the notion that technology adoption can trigger a variety of costs,” notes the report. “The adoption and creation of open educational resources (OER) are viewed as a potential solution for reducing costs.”
  • Embracing the Need for Radical Change: As information is now increasingly stored in the cloud rather than in a tangible format, libraries are rethinking acquisition strategies and how physical library space can best be used.

For much more in-depth information on these trends, technologies and challenges, as well as information on methodology, resources, and technology planning guides for institutions, read the full report, “NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Library Edition.