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Smarter Libraries Through Technology: Exploring New Directions for Library Services

Smart Libraries Newsletter [August 2018]

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Many opportunities seem to be emerging today for libraries to become involved in new areas of service. Libraries will naturally continue to carry out their traditional roles of acquiring, describing, and providing access to physical and digital collections and providing reference and other information-related services. But in addition to these traditional roles, libraries are increasingly exploring opportunities for involvement in other areas that will leverage their core expertise and values and benefit the communities they service. The long-term prosperity of libraries could be weakened if they remain constrained within the confines of traditional roles. Libraries have continually adapted to new forms of content, publishing models, technology, and cultural expectations. In this current era, libraries are expanding their sites beyond collections to new types of services. Many of these services are enabled through new technology components.

There have been several examples of expanding library involvement, many of which have been covered in previous issues of Smart Libraries Newsletter.

A not-so-recent trend involves the establishment of creative commons and makerspaces in libraries. These facilities support the creative work of library users. In academic libraries, creative commons not only provide access to the rich array of library resources, but they also provide tools to incorporate content into research and writing projects. They often include multimedia tools, analytical engines, and modelling tools. Makerspaces likewise support the creative activities of library users, usually through the creation and manipulation of physical objects. These facilities might include 3D printers, circuit design components, interactive learning kits, or almost any other tool or object able to present some type of learning opportunity.

The last few years have seen adoption of tools for managing reading list for university courses. This genre initially saw considerable uptake in the United Kingdom with the Talis Aspire, which has now been adopted by about 100 institutions. Rebus:list is an open source alternative developed by PTFS Europe Ltd, which was divested to Cortext and the UK Copyright Licensing Agency in August 2017. Ex Libris launched its Leganto reading list product in 2015. These products help instructors identify supplemental materials for each course, which can be drawn from library collections or personal materials. They also address any issues related to copyright for materials added to reading lists. These reading list management platforms provide opportunities for the library to be more deeply involved with instructors or teaching faculty.

Libraries in academic and research libraries have seen many different areas of expanded involvement. Many have established programs to support research data management. Research projects conducted in universities generate massive amounts of data, which presents challenging problems for storage, management, and preservation. Many funding organizations, such as the National Science Foundation, now require data management plans. This activity falls nicely within libraries' areas of expertise, leading many to offer specialized services to help researchers develop and execute their data management plans.

Research-oriented universities also require technical infrastructure to help them manage and document various aspects of the research process. A genre of research management support systems helps institutions manage a complex array of related activities, including research outputs, such as scholarly papers produced, funding sources, active projects, maintain profiles of faculty members and other researchers, and funding opportunities. Examples of research management platforms include Pure from Elsevier, the open source VIVO software, Kuali Research (formerly Coeus), and the recently announced Esploro platform from Ex Libris. Many libraries are seeing research support as a new opportunity. It will be interesting to observe how platforms, such as Ex Libris Esploro, that involve the library as a stakeholder will fare compared to those that are more oriented to the institutional office of research, such as Elsevier Pure and Kuali Research.

In this issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter, we feature Follett's acquisition of Fishtree, an educational technology company that has developed an adaptive learning platform. This product uses machine learning to create personalized learning experiences and will be integrated into Follett's Destiny integrated library system. The integration of a classroom support environment within Destiny brings the potential to strengthen the involvement of the school library or media center with curriculum. While it is yet to be seen how the capabilities of Fishtree will be folded into Destiny, it does seem like a positive move with the potential to create new opportunities for librarians to work more closely with teachers and to strengthen the visibility of the library within the school or district.

View Citation
Publication Year:2018
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Smart Libraries Newsletter
Publication Info:Volume 38 Number 08
Issue:August 2018
Publisher:ALA TechSource
Series: Smarter Libraries through Technology
Place of Publication:Chicago, IL
Record Number:24054
Last Update:2022-11-14 05:41:21
Date Created:2019-03-05 15:55:35