Another take on this from Hans Geleijnse (Tilburg University, Netherlands). He is pointing out that Libraries are not only being driven to improve their services, but also do this more efficiently and in a competitive environment.
Users expect fast, mobile, secure, personalised and open access to information – to use a cliche, anytime, anywhere.
A user survey at Tilbug in 2005 of researchers and teaching staff, and saw that 97% used the electronic library services, but 70% still use physical books from the library. The most valued service are e-journals, database, current awareness services, document delivery and ILL.
However, it also showed that users are not familiar with various important electronic resource, and further, users don’t want to be assisted but prefer self service. There is a real paradox here – Those surveyed said that they believed they would search better with help from a librarian, but that they didn’t want this help.
In this environment, the role of the catalogue is declining and changing – and we have watched it happen, but didn’t change the design of our catalogues. Along side this Tilburg have seen almost a doubling of OPAC searches from 2003 to 2005, but not a similar increase in circulation – so what is happening? On the electronic side we see an increase in searching in the electronic environment, but here we see a similar increase in use of ILL and online full-text.
Just a reflection on digitisation efforts – Hans is reminding us that the development of electronic acces to journals took 10 years – and we are just at the start of this digitisation of books – so even if e-books are currently poor in terms of functionality, we must not assume that this will continue to be the case, or that books are ‘special’ and different to journals.
In the world of Open Worldcat, collections can be searched via Yahoo or Google – why have a local catalogue? Perhaps to integrate with circulation, but not many other reasons? Hans suggests that the importance of the traditional local library system will decrease rapidly in the next few years.
Some quite quick skim over several areas now – e-learning (many students spend much time within their ‘VLE’ – and at the moment we are not seeing true integration of library systems – just linking), insitutional respositories, e-science (currently libraries not really involved in the latter, but there is a massive amount of data, and currently not organised, accessible or re-usable).
So – what should libraries be doing? We need to create partnerships with both departments, faculties, users, and also with vendors. On the other hand Library system vendors need to produce products that support the role of libraries in a changing world, and also
Universities are unique in their research and teaching. Libraries should concentrate on supporting these unique selling points and on digitizing their own unique collections. Libraries must cooperate – regionally, nationally and internationally – and outsource. Joint acquisition and outsourcing of library systems will become a realistic option. The choice of library system does not have a large impact on our user as long as it is a reasonable quality – so we should stop being so fussing.
Role of the catalogue is declining, but do not immediately close it down
The time of ‘my library should have its own local library system and its own portal system’ is over
Need for more standarization and integration across domains and application areas
More cooperation at local, national and international level
Outsourcing of library functions becomes a serious option
Added value is in providing user driven, state-of-the-art and tailored service and support to teaching, learning and research.