6 tech adoption trends from the NMC Horizon Report 2014 Library Edition

HorizonReport_Libraries2014The first library-dedicated NMC Horizon Report was published in August 2014. It outlines key trends, challenges, developments and technologies to impact on academic and research libraries between now and the next 5 years and beyond.
This month’s blog entry brings together some of the main key findings in the area of technology adoption trends and important developments for those wanting a short taster before they read the full-length report. Challenges impeding technology adoption will appear in a future Proud2Know blog entry. For the full report and related wiki, see below.

How far does your library strategy, plans and priorities reflect these ideas?

Trends Accelerating Technology Adoption in Academic Research Libraries, pp 4-15

This summary also includes related important technology developments for libraries reported in this NMC Horizon document.

In the short term, i.e. within 1-2 years, the following two trends were identified.

Increasing Focus on Research Data Management for Publications

It is generally now agreed that the scholarly record goes beyond the text publication, which has consequences for the librarian and researcher. New formats and workflows within electronic publishing environments enable surveys, tests, experiments, and simulation data to be represented more interactively, orally or visually through audio, video and visualisation software.
Libraries are progressively curating and linking this material to text publications thereby more effectively presenting and disseminating the broader richer research record from idea through to final publication. They are improving the online discovery experience and access to research data for researchers worldwide by describing data with standardised metadata and keywords and by seeking to improve connections between data and library catalogue records. In addition, libraries are increasingly supporting researchers with data management plans, and they are providing guidance on data re-distribution, data citation and licensing for example.
Data-mining is also gaining ground amongst libraries and related organisations – uncovering new answers to research questions. Libraries and information-focussed organisations are responding by providing more tools to enable researchers to simultaneously explore multiple datasets from various disciplines. Resulting new patterns and associations help answer complex questions more comprehensively and efficiently.
In summary, libraries are helping develop and support new infrastructures to not only facilitate more access to more components in the research knowledge output but also to help contribute to the creation of new knowledge.

Prioritization of Mobile Content and Delivery

iStock_16857623Small_iphone_NONCOMMWith more adults using mobile devices, libraries are increasingly needing to look at the most efficient way of providing access to their resources and services anytime anywhere in a device-neutral fashion. In a world where mobile users want to search the catalogue, read digital content and find and save references from their phones or tablets, libraries are having to consider this in the design of their websites, online services or in the apps they recommend. For example, Browzine enables users to browse, read and monitor current journals via their tablets. This means that more library catalogue and database interfaces will be improved for mobiles in the next two years. Library websites will need to optimize their sites using more device-agnostic solutions like responsive web design in the coming years to make viewing possible from any type of screen size.

Students and scholars expect mobile access to both older material as well as newer content in e-books, videos, and data visualizations for example. More work needs to be done, however, on copyright (in Europe) or inter-library loan (US) to provide access to all those in need of e-books for example. Leadership in mobile content and delivery will mean sharing good practices on bringing content to mobile devices, training library staff to understand and develop mobile apps and sites, and libraries will need to explore more tools to deliver their services to mobile devices.

As mentioned in the section on Important Developments in Technology for Academic and Research Libraries, the growth in the use of cheap, small and easily accessible apps means that how readers use them to read and share library and external content will bring new challenges, also in the way that content and apps are presented to library users. Library apps are also clearly on the increase, and libraries are also curating mobile app collections for their researchers and students. Some are experimenting with gamification in new apps to guide and teach students and researchers in more creative and interactive ways.

In the medium term, i.e. within 3-5 years, the following two trends were identified

Evolving Nature of the Scholarly Record

Emerging monarchThe scholarly record has evolved with technology. It has transformed into a richer collection of varying outputs where the traditional text-based publication is flanked with research datasets, lab articles, blog posts, programs or visualisations. This has brought about a change in the definition of what scholarly communication is and includes. As a result, the researcher has a wider choice in what and how he/she publishes taking the mini-monograph or e-book as two such newer examples. Libraries can help engage in this change with their knowledge of publication practices and can judge new publishing models on their stability and future impact.

These changes in scholarly communication bring challenges for the librarian in the management of the mutability of digital output and the impact that has on referencing and citation work processes, and on what it means to discover that work, access it and use it. This new move away from a journal system to a “Web of Objects” system will ultimately transform the way librarians deal with archiving and preservation. From a longer presentation by the Web of Objects man himself, Herbert van de Sompel, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YG184V4gCRs
Such richer scholarly communications objects will have a greater influence on how research is evaluated in the future. Under the NMC Horizon’s Important Developments in Technology section, they report that being in the know with developments in the bibliometrics and citation technology ecosystem can help libraries optimise their researchers’ local significance (when seeking raises and promotions), reach and grant income. They can educate their academics on progressive approaches that go beyond the Web of Science or Scopus results to make informed publishing choices for example. In 2013, ESSS even identified a potential for libraries to innovate more in this field.

Increasing Accessibility of Research Content

158721899Open Access to publications and data or other scientific outputs is gaining much support from heavy-weight funders such as the UK’s Research Excellence Framework, The National Science Foundation and National Institute of Health Libraries in the US. However, work still needs to be done to gain the Latin America’s SciELO’s 1.5 million journal article downloads per day success in other regions of the world. Funding agencies, nations and institutions are however increasingly committing to making publicly funded research openly available. In addition to these policy changes, added value services on Institutional Repositories such as persistent url description, or analytics based on scholarly material deposited or downloaded are also gaining ground.

The related Important Developments in Technology section reports that leveraging research content over multiple channels will give researchers a greater reach. Increasingly, academic libraries are becoming academic electronic publishers be this via repositories or in other new Open Access initiatives. Many have already for years been disseminating their institutions’ outputs in theses, working papers, dissertations or conference proceedings. However, new outputs or digital building blocks have further implications on them. For example, they need to consider more complex workflows and choices. For example, they need to look at open versus closed systems such as Apple’s iBooks or Amazon’s ebooks, storage solutions, how to link content, provide software that visualises data, grapple with more copyright issues or consider the influence of more varied outputs on bibliometrics. Universities and their libraries are increasingly engaging in the scholarly publishing business by producing their own journals, or are encouraging their authors to experiment with new forms in France for example, with the OpenEdition platform for social sciences and the humanities. It was also pointed out that they also need to build in quality control or evaluation systems that monitor the effectiveness and relevance of these products to user needs in years to come.

Pricing has a large influence on being able to provide access to the world’s research by libraries. Based on well-established library and institutional concerns about journal subscription fees, another trend identified was the evolving pricing mechanisms of the journal. Newer publishing fee schemes can range from publishers giving more room for negotiation to offering lower prices to smaller institutions to new publication pricing models in Article Processing Charges (APCs). The publishing industry introduced APCs to pay for some Open Access journal articles payable on a per-article basis. Research and academic institutions are joining forces to reduce costs and more of this may be seen ahead. Other ambitious models such as SCOAP3 have seen subscription fees reduced through collective purchasing using a sliding scale based on the country’s contribution to the research output. Material is then re-licensed to be made freely accessible. The future may see other lessons learnt and different pricing models based on the current pilot project together with IOP Publishing, Research Libraries UK and Russell Group where APCs published over 3 years will be compared to institutions’ subscription and license fees, again using a sliding scale.

In the longer term, i.e. in 5 or more years from now, the following two trends were identified:

Continual Progress in Technology, Standards, and Infrastructure

162847313Libraries are moving their focus from collections to their users, and in response to that, libraries need to provide them with fit for purpose infrastructures to support them in their study, teaching and research in the coming years. This can range from creating more study or maker-spaces to providing ever more important authentication solutions for access to increasing resources across campuses. National technology grants can help make headway with topics such as data management whereas other international opportunities for building e-infrastructures are on offer by the European Commission in its Horizon 2020 Programme for example.

Libraries are also increasingly joining forces to share resources in public access catalogues, or web-scale discovery services to save costs on the one hand or are using the cloud to collectively store material for cost-effective preservation on the other. This also gives them access to larger corpuses of data for data-mining exercises giving them another edge on providing new knowledge services. By sharing good practices for metadata standards, vocabularies and services, libraries will make further progress with their technology, standards and infrastructures to provide the best facilities possible for their users.

Two concrete innovative ICT developments identified in the Important Developments in Technology section, are the Internet of Things and the Semantic Web. With the Internet of Things, for example, we can envision in four to five years from now that library users will have more possibilities to personalise their physical library spaces. Furthermore, libraries might be able to adapt their service offer based on user preferences or previous Internet searches in real time for example. Libraries can in years to come increasingly contribute to the linked data cloud by transforming their bibliographic metadata into RDF and sharing some of their collections more widely as well as using semantic web technologies in their future information services.

Rise of New Forms of Multidisciplinary Research

iStock_000007117110_SmallMultidisciplinary collaboration and knowledge is becoming more prevalent in academic institutions. Multidisciplinary research committees, projects being evaluated based on their multidisciplinary quality or research training networks bringing professionals, researchers and practitioners together are some such examples.

Libraries can clearly help provide facilities for them to access, share and create new knowledge. For example, by providing makerspaces where students and researchers meet to work on 3D printing models for example. Alternatively, they can provide access to more multidisciplinary research including databases and furthermore, they can help interpret the vast amount of text they house digitally for such groups and accommodate data-mining to help researchers from various disciplines reveal new relationships and concepts, i.e. new knowledge.

For the full report, and wiki, go to:


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