Jun 20 2017

Libraries of the Future Focus on Digital Collaboration and Scholarship

The New Media Consortium’s Horizon Report: 2017 Library Edition indicates technology will expand the role of the library.

Some big-name libraries have gone digital with their resources. Recently, the New York Public Library went live with more than 187,000 digitized items in very high resolution.

“The web has become a vibrant cultural commons, and I think that we’ve seen that —whether they’re legacy cultural institutions like libraries and museums and archives or more internet-native public institutions like Wikipedia, Wikimedia and the Internet Archive — more are offering unrestricted open content into the web,” says Ben Vershbow, the former director of NYPL Labs, a digital innovation team at the library.

Harvard University Library has also taken advantage of technology to make operations more efficient across the more than 70 Harvard Library units through a new cloud-based tool, Campus Technology reports. The tool handles all resource types — from electronic and digital to print. By putting the resources from all library locations in one place, it can encourage more collaboration.

Like other colleges, Harvard is working to digitize historical materials — such as images, manuscripts and even audio — to make them more widely accessible to students both on and off campus.

The New Media Consortium’s Horizon Report: 2017 Library Edition indicates that cross-institution collaboration through technology will be a long-term trend for academic and research libraries.

“Support behind technology-enabled learning has reinforced the trend toward open communities and consortia as library leaders, educators and technologists come together to develop platforms and software that help institutions aggregate and store data, ensuring sustainable access and preservation,” reads the report.

NMC cites the example of Emory University Library and Georgia Tech Library, which have created a Library Service Center that allows faculty, staff and students from both institutions to access a shared digital and physical collection of millions of resources.

Digitizing materials not only creates broader access, but it also preserves the historical value of pieces.

Penn State University’s Visual Resources Centre has used Adobe Creative Cloud to scan slides and other images of art to color-correct them to near their original status.

Academic Libraries Step Up to Advance Digital Scholarship

Another important aspect of 21st-century librarianship will be assisting students in finding the information they need and understanding what to do with it. NMC reports that libraries will be at the crossroads of digital scholarship — or “the implementation of technology to support the access, retrieval and application of knowledge.”

University libraries will be able to help scholars understand new research processes facilitated by updates to technology. Also, trends in data have created the need for new job roles within academic libraries, such as science data librarian and data visualization coordinator.

“It is no simple task for librarians to gain the skills necessary to work with a variety of disciplines and methods,” reports NMC. “Therefore, academic libraries are working to build capacity internally to better serve their communities.”


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