C & RL Spotlight

Scott Walter


As is the case for many of our readers, the editorial board of College & Research Libraries looks to the future each summer as we reflect on the academic year just past and the one that is coming up. The future is an especially popular topic around ALA, as well, as we consider the ideas that came out of the recent “ALA Summit on the Future of Libraries,” including some that are routinely found in the research published in the journal, e.g., the changing role of the library in higher education, the evolving demands for academic library services, and the changing nature of the academic library workforce.

In “Dealing with Data: Science Librarians’ Participation in Data Management at Association of Research Libraries Institutions,” Karen Antell and colleagues look at the evolving role of librarians in providing data services to researchers and the role of the library in establishing and implementing data management plans as a component of the broader academic research enterprise. The combination of uncertainty and optimism about the librarian’s role in a swiftly changing research landscape reported by the participants in this study reflects themes also prominent in reports of the ALA Summit, including the need to embrace new roles for the library that remain consistent with core values and the need to consider the professional skill set(s) that will characterize the successful academic library of the future.

The future of staffing for library services is also a theme reflected in Julie Mitchell and Nathalie Soini’s “Student Involvement for Student Success: Student Staff in the Learning Commons,” a study of the learning commons service models at libraries that depend on undergraduate students to answer “the diverse and complex questions” received at public service desks. These and other issues discussed at the Summit (and at similarly forward-looking events) will be the subject of a guest editorial in the September issue of College & Research Libraries by James G. Neal, vice president for information services and university librarian at Columbia University.

Other articles included in the July 2014 issue of College & Research Libraries include:

  • Merinda Kaye Hensley, Sarah L. Shreeves, and Stephanie Davis-Kahl. “A Survey of Library Support for Formal Undergraduate Research Programs.” Abstract: Undergraduate research is defined by the Council on Undergraduate Research as “an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline.” This study serves as a snapshot of current library practices in relation to formal undergraduate research programs and identifies common elements of library support among different types of institutions. The results of this research fill a gap in both the library and education literature, provide critical background data for libraries wishing to build support for undergraduate research programs, and suggest a foundation for further research into an underexplored area.
  • Kyung-Sun Kim, Sei-Ching Joanna Sin, and Eun Young Yoo-Lee. “Undergraduates’ Use of Social Media as Information Sources.” Abstract: Social media have become increasingly popular among different user groups. Although used for social purposes, some social media platforms (such as Wikipedia) have been emerging as important information sources. Focusing on undergraduate students, a survey was conducted to investigate the following: 1) which social media platforms are used as information sources, 2) what are the main reasons for using these social media platforms for information seeking, and 3) what kinds of actions are taken to evaluate the quality of the information gained from such sources. The study provides a snapshot of current trends in terms of the use of social media as information sources.
  • Catherine Sassen and Diane Wahl. “Fostering Research and Publication in Academic Libraries.” Abstract: This study concerns administrative support provided to encourage the research and publishing activities of academic librarians working in Association of Research Libraries member libraries. Deans and directors of these libraries were asked to respond to an online survey concerning the support measures that their libraries provide, as well as their thoughts on support measures that academic libraries should provide. When compared to earlier studies, the survey results indicate that most support measures have grown over time. Results also suggest increases in the requirements for publication in academic libraries, as well as in the number of libraries at which librarians have faculty status.
  • Mary Kandiuk. “Promoting Racial and Ethnic Diversity among Canadian Academic Librarians.” Abstract: This study examines racial and ethnic diversity among Canadian academic librarians and discusses the findings of a nationwide survey. The survey posed questions related to equity plans and programs as well as recruitment practices for academic librarians from equity-seeking groups with a focus on Aboriginal and visible/racial minority librarians. It explored the needs and experiences of Aboriginal and visible/racial minority librarians employed in Canadian academic libraries by examining questions of organizational climate, mentoring, institutional support, advancement opportunities, and the roles of library associations. The findings reveal a need for more diversity awareness and training and leadership with respect to diversity on the part of academic libraries and the profession at-large in Canada.
  • Karen Antell, Jody Bales Foote, Jaymie Turner, and Brian Shults. “Dealing with Data: Science Librarians’ Participation in Data Management at Association of Research Libraries Institutions.” Abstract: As long as empirical research has existed, researchers have been doing “data management” in one form or another. However, funding agency mandates for doing formal data management are relatively recent, and academic libraries’ involvement has been concentrated mainly in the last few years. The National Science Foundation implemented a new mandate in January 2011, requiring researchers to include a data management plan with their proposals for funding. This has prompted many academic libraries to work more actively than before in data management, and science librarians in particular are uniquely poised to step into new roles to meet researchers’ data management needs. This study, a survey of science librarians at institutions affiliated with the Association of Research Libraries, investigates science librarians’ awareness of and involvement in institutional repositories, data repositories, and data management support services at their institutions.
  • Kirstin Dougan. “You Tube Has Changed Everything? Music Faculty, Librarians, and Their Use and Perceptions of YouTube.” Abstract: YouTube’s accessibility, ease of use, and depth of content are strong lures for music students. But do music teaching faculty and librarians encourage this and do they use it in their own research, teaching, and work? This study surveyed over 9,000 music faculty and over 300 music librarians in the United States. It discovered that faculty rank is at times a factor in faculty use of YouTube for teaching and research—but not always in expected ways. It also found that faculty and librarians do not entirely share perspectives concerning the quality of YouTube’s content, metadata, or copyright concerns.
  • Julie Mitchell and Nathalie Soini. “Student Involvement for Student Success: Student Staff in the Learning Commons.” Abstract: How do you effectively train and assess student staff in a learning commons environment? How do you foster a student-led approach while maintaining accurate and high-level service? How do you create an environment where student staff are engaged and motivated to succeed? Peer-to-peer service models are fundamental to many learning commons environments and contribute to student success. Many student-delivered services in learning commons compliment programs traditionally offered exclusively by professional staff such as librarians, IT professionals, learning specialists, or student affairs personnel. In such service models, students are the front line contact and the need for knowledgeable assistance and accurate referrals remains paramount. This article presents the findings of a study that investigated how training and assessment is approached with student staff in a learning commons environment.

Also included in this month’s issue is a guest editorial by Dan Hazen, associate librarian for collection development at Harvard College and a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Research Libraries (CRL). Both Harvard and CRL have been distinguished over the past half century for their institutional commitments to collecting and providing enduring access to foreign language materials, including primary source materials and other resources published in countries around the world.

The ongoing importance of foreign language and area studies collections in academic libraries and the contributions that those collections (and the specialists who curate them and engage faculty and students in their use) make to the broader missions of teaching, learning, and research on campus, are the subject of a number of essays recently accepted for publication in the journal, including Schadl and Todeschini’s study of Latin American collections; Lenkart and colleagues’ study of Slavic collections; and Witt, Kutner, and Cooper’s study of library contributions to campus internationalization efforts. These essays (and others) are currently available as C&RL preprints at http://crl.acrl.org/content /early/recent.

Finally, you may have seen the announcement of the articles selected for the 75th anniversary issue of College & Research Libraries scheduled for publication in March 2015. Over 300 C&RL readers helped the members of past and present C&RL editorial boards to select the following articles for inclusion in the special issue:

  • Robert S. Taylor, “Question-Negotiation and Information Seeking in Libraries,” originally published in College & Research Libraries, volume 29 (May 1968) (The “People’s Choice”)
  • Constance A. Mellon, “Library Anxiety: A Grounded Theory and its Development,” originally published in College & Research Libraries, volume 47 (March 1986)
  • David W. Lewis, “Inventing the Electronic University,” originally published in College & Research Libraries, volume 49 (July 1988)
  • Carla J. Stoffle, Robert Renaud, and Jerilyn R. Veldof, “Choosing Our Futures,” originally published in College & Research Libraries, volume 57 (May 1996)
  • Brian Quinn, “The McDonaldization of Academic Libraries,” originally published in College & Research Libraries, volume 61 (May 2000)
  • George D. Kuh and Robert M. Gonyea, “The Role of the Academic Library in Promoting Student Engagement in Learning,” originally published in College & Research Libraries, volume 64 (July 2003)
  • Kara J. Malenfant, “Leading Change in the System of Scholarly Communication: A Case Study of Engaging Liaison Librarians for Outreach to Faculty,” originally published in College & Research Libraries, volume 71 (January 2010)

The editorial board is currently soliciting authors for “companion essays” to accompany each of the articles noted above, also for inclusion in the special issue. Authors of these essays will be asked to reflect not only on the enduring value of these specific essays, but on the theme(s) in the research literature of academic librarianship that each reflects.

For more information on the special issue of C&RL and on other special events planned as part of ACRL’s 75th anniversary, please visit the 75th anniversary website at acrl.ala.org/acrl75.

Copyright 2014© American Library Association

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