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Midwinter 2009 Discussion Group - Ithaka Report

Notes from the DLS Discussion Group

Sunday, January 25, 2009

 

The discussion at Midwinter this year revolved around two of the Ithaka reports, Ithaka’s 2006 Studies of Key Stakeholders in the Digital Transformation in Higher Education and Current Models of Digital Scholarly Communication Results of an Investigation Conducted by Ithaka for the Association of Research Libraries.  The first of these reports  looks at how new technologies have impacted faculty needs and behaviors towards information.  Its findings provide, “a number of ways for libraries to exercise leadership in the transition to an increasingly electronic environment (p.4).”   This leadership is needed as faculty increasingly value electronic resources perceiving the library as less important to their teaching and research than in the past.   The other report explores new forms of scholarly communication (E-only journals; Reviews; Preprints and working papers; Encyclopedias, dictionaries, and annotated content; Data; Blogs; Discussion forums; and Professional and scholarly hubs), providing examples and characteristics for each type.  It  explores overall trends for new forms of scholarly communication and begins a discussion of how libraries can fit in to this new digital world. 

 

After an overview of the reports the discussion began by focusing on how distance learning librarians were engaging with and supporting faculty at their institutions who were using new types of scholarly communication.  Several themes emerged from the discussion.

  • Faculty are unaware of many library resources.  This lack of knowledge can bias students away from using library resources.
  • The library has not created a “brand” for itself.
  • Good content often exists in a bad system, which discourages people from using it.
  • Funding issues impact collection decisions.  If decisions are made to only buy items in one format and print is chosen over digital, distance users are at a disadvantage.
  • Adjunct faculty often have the most contact with students in the classroom.  There is greater turnover among this group and traditional communication channels don’t always reach them.
  • With multiple systems and vendors for information products the discovery process can be difficult.  Many users never get past “Ebsco”.
  • Transformation of print to electronic has followed the traditional print model.  This model often does not translate well to the digital environment.
  • Institutional roadblocks and faculty members not having time to devote to the library can  diminish the impact that librarians can have.

From the discussion it seems that many librarians face similar struggles as they try to align their priorities to match the changing needs and demands that faculty have with digital resources.