Your library: a successful service center for a successful faculty

How to implement research support

Yesterday there was disastrous storm in my hometown. Many cellars and garages were flooded including some ofthe library’s storerooms. But thankfully many people helped out of nowhere. There’s a saying in Germany: manyhands make light work and so the storm passed over quite easily. In a rapid changing environment you need to adaptand develop unexpected strengths and skills. That holds very much true for the library itself. The thunder storm inour book world is that there are no books left. That is good news for disasters but bad news for our profession. Justto change to digital media or gadgets will not work in all cases. Our principal financing comes from the faculty andthe scientists are both specifically demanding and library denying. So we had the idea to develop a strategy forresearch support in order to serve our scientists even better. We came up with the following ideas, measures and stepsto rebuild the library to a successful service center for a successful faculty. To accomplish our tasks we tried to thinkfrom a strict researcher perspective.

Challenges for research

At first we thought about what the real challenges for a researcher were. Of course, they are more interested in theircareers and publishing in Nature than in obtaining articles via interlibrary loan. The visibility of research output –local and international – is of crucial importance for the individualscientist as well as for the Dean. We discovered that at the moment,there was no portal for the scientific publications of the faculty, letalone a repository that highlighted the best papers and researchachievements of the faculty. We also found that the informationlandscape has become increasingly complex. There are sophisticateddatabases, research portals but access to information and researchpapers is complex and time consuming. Information literacy is valuedhighly and together with the usually strong fluctuation this equals forstrong training needs.There is also now a growing commitment by research funders (DFG, ERC and Horizon 2020) to publish in OpenAccess journals but there is a lack of knowledge among researchers for publication and funding opportunities. Thelibrary must support the publication of research results in high-ranking journals as much as possible. In addition thereare the progressive needs of students and teachers through new curricula (Science). Current e-learning styles andsystems (Flipped Classroom/Blended Learning) overwhelm teachers. Support for multimedia, mobile working,learning and teaching methods in the faculty is necessary.

Finally the library must promote the quality of doctoral work and the integrity and freedom from plagiarism of research and doctoral theses as there is a decrease in the number of doctorates awarded recently on account of insecurity and resignation of doctoral students.

Challenges for the Library

  1. The increasing use of library resources over the Internet has led to an alienation between the researcher and library. As a consequence identifying new developments in research and delivering appropriate services is becoming very difficult for the library. And even if there are services which match the needs of the researcher, they do not know about them.
  2. The newly to be developed services require specialized skills and competencies that must be acquired by the employees. Therefore, dedicated staff development is necessary.
  3. The centralization of traditional library tasks such as cataloging and media processing has led to a restructuring of the tasks in the library, resulting in staff cuts and reduce freedom to decide things on our own.

Worldwide trends in research support

  • Archiving and long term storage of primary research data;
  • Visibility of institutional research output by Current Research Information Systems, University bibliography and publication of scientific articles in professional and university repositories;
  • Integrity of research and PhD theses;
  • Simplifying and supporting access to quality information, 24/7, mobile and personalized services;
  • Support in publications, especially from Open Access;
  • Development of research and publication skills of PhD students and young researchers.

Proposals to implement

  1. The quantitative and qualitative study of the information needs of researchers;
  2. market analysis of „good practice“ examples such as in other libraries;
  3. develop a strategy to support research in collaboration with the Dean’s Office, scientists and other stakeholders. This strategy involves the joint establishment of priorities and objectives, key achievements and outcomes, a structure for quality and risk management, and professional development;
  4. development of a product and service portfolio;
  5. a program of continuous staff development of library staff.

This article was published at JEAHIL, Issue 3, 2014.

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