14 jun. 2018

2018 top trends in academic libraries: A review of the trends and issues affecting academic libraries in higher education

Every other year, the ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee produces a document on top trends in higher education as they relate to academic librarianship. Topics in this edition of ACRL Top Trends will be familiar to some readers who will hopefully learn of new materials to expand their knowledge. Other readers will be made aware of trends that are outside of their experience. This is the nature of trends in our current technological and educational environments: change is continual, but it affects different libraries at different rates. The 2018 top trends share several overarching themes, including the impact of market forces, technology, and the political environment on libraries.

Publisher and vendor landscape.

Publishers and database providers continue to move beyond their traditional functions of research dissemination and distribution into areas of enriched discovery, analytics, productivity, and research workflow. In August 2017, Elsevier purchased institutional repository and publishing platform bepress. This purchase followed Elsevier’s purchases of SSRN and Plum and exemplifies a trend of major publishers purchasing and developing services that radically extend their capabilities beyond publishing. More recently, Digital Science has announced a new tool, Dimensions, which is intended to “reimagine” article discovery and access through, among other things, a citation databases and research analytics suite. Clarivate Analytics, perhaps best known for providing access to indexing and citation resources, such as Web of Science, Journal Citation Reports, and Endnote, has continued to expand its commercial reach into the scholarly infrastructure realm and ecosystem with the acquisition of Publons (a peer-review platform) and Kopernio (which aims to provide more seamless access to licensed and open access content).
As these large publishers and vendors turn more attention to the publishing infrastructure and elements of scholarly communication, they are becoming full-service providers supporting every aspect of scholars’ publication workflow from discovery to dissemination. These changes could have major impacts on smaller publishers, independent service providers, and academic libraries in the coming years.
The attraction of this model lies in streamlining disparate elements of academic research and publishing with a single provider that can coordinate funding, data collection and analysis, collaboration across institutional and international boundaries, writing, publication, and promotion of published materials. How researchers find information impacts the marketplace.
Kyle Siler argues that academics are more likely to acquire information through online search than through reading, and if this is the case, large publishers have the infrastructural advantage in making scholarship more visible. This might seem like a familiar conundrum for libraries to contemplate: Is this the new version of the “Big Deal,” where we are caught between demonstrating our value to researchers and determining sustainable commitments to licensed content and platforms?
An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education is one of the recent calls to members of the academic community to be more informed about the choices they make and be more active to change the climate. The efforts of European institutions, particularly in Germany and the Netherlands, to forward alternative approaches to open access and negotiations with major publishers, are other notable examples of actions toward sustainability of the scholarly information ecosystem.
Attempts to change the payment model for scholarly publishing have also gained traction in the OA2020 movement. This is a trend for librarians to monitor, as it could have significant implications for collections budgets, subscriptions, and campus priorities.
In an effort to streamline access to licensed content and reduce or eliminate the need for users to resort to tools like SciHub and ResearchGate (threatened with a lawsuit), publishers, librarians, and other stakeholders have been collaborating on RA21 Highwire Press, meanwhile, has partnered with Google Scholar to develop CASA (Campus-Activated Subscriber Access) These tools propose a federated identity system that would eliminate the need for IP authentication and proxy servers, allowing users to login once and be recognized across all participating platforms.
There are numbers of issues at play in the establishment and diffusion of federated identity systems, including 1) privacy concerns associated with the aggregation of this much user data, 2) potential challenges for smaller publishers unable to participate in the federated process, and 3) an increase in barriers faced by on-campus users. Access and discovery will continue to be both a priority and a challenge for libraries, as outside companies and individuals develop alternative mechanisms that are perceived as easier to use.

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