An Opportunity to Earn Our Keep

Corrall, Kennan and Afzal discuss bibliometrics and research data management services in their 2013 article from Library Trends. Because of internet research and e-resources, university library services have changed though their mission remains the same–supporting learning and research activities. The authors paraphrase Ball and Tunger’s (2006, p.563) argument that “libraries need to cease resembling museums and become efficient ‘business enterprises.’” Typically, I resent notions of commercialized learning, but this smacks of Library 2.0 and “3.0,” and I do think that’s something that we need to keep working toward.

There is a gap and therefore, an opportunity, for academic libraries to offer services using bibliometrics and data management for trend analysis, publication strategies, faculty reviews, grant writing and job applications. As it turns out, bibliometrics is a home-grown research area and specialization, not something LIS has imported or borrowed from other fields, but even this study gives evidence that libraries need to get going on putting it into practice.

The survey used by the authors targeted academic libraries in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the UK. While many of these libraries had bibliometrics and RDM programs in place and/or plans for more, many of the librarians stated that they didn’t feel prepared with the knowledge, skills or confidence they need to implement them. There is a call for LIS curriculum for RDM, even in the form of electives and short courses on data curation, technical skills and ICT skills (information and communication technology? …British vocab, I guess). 

The authors point out that most MLS programs prepare their graduates with a “general education for all library sectors” (p. 664) and that such specialties may not be applicable to all. I can say that even after working in my field for six years, there are parts of my job that my first Master’s did a lousy job of preparing me for and I have had to do-it-myself–we can say that professional schools need to add X or Y to their curriculum, but there will always be something lacking. I’m glad that someone is paying attention to what academic libraries could do and prepare themselves for so that they stay viable. Actually, we all need to do that!