Trends in Italy

Read what Jan Simane has to say about trends in Italy.

  • The so-called ‘open library’ is a hot topic in Italy in 2017. After the digital turn innovations in technology and the subsequent professional requirements have been discussed intensively in the last years; now the role of libraries in terms of access, based on shared resources, and interconnection with the world beyond the academic elite is on the agenda in Italy. The term ‘social’ – as a counterpart to ‘digital’ – is in the focus. The inclusive quality of libraries is being emphasized both as an opportunity and as a challenge. On the background of comprehensive networks of sources and services for the provision of information, the libraries are seen as an integral part of an overall infrastructure in modern society.
  • Moreover, stronger oriented to issues of ‘social inclusion’, questions of strategies in institutional sharing are addressed to libraries in order to enhance the power of ‘active’ citizenship. A particular attention is given to assessment methodologies for the social impact and to very recent conceptions of evolving libraries as open space for users and for the city from the point of view of architectural and urban planning.
  • Open Access is supported with publishing services provided by academic libraries (OA repositories, digitization, publishing platforms) and by the growing number of University Press publishing houses in Italy.
  • Currently, Italian academic and research libraries are following a paradigm shift in Digital Humanities: after a period of (digital) collection building and collection management now, the libraries see their role stronger as partners of researchers’ communities instead of being a mere information and data provider. They share expertise and infrastructure in fields like text mining, text encoding and the like. The SHARE (Scholarly Heritage and Access to Research) initiative is to be seen in this context. Based on the potentials of Linked Open Data and on the BIBFRAME ontology, cooperative networks of linked data from libraries and cultural institutions (museums, archives) are being established in various regional contexts.
  • The general situation of Italian libraries is still critical. The ongoing financial crisis and the consequent cuts of budgets for public services hit the libraries hard. After serious reductions of acquisition budgets in the last years, decreasing of personnel costs is now in the focus of governmental policy. The outcome is both a cutback of jobs in libraries and increasing employments of less qualified people with precarious short-time contracts. Unavoidable are the subsequent deficits in continuity and quality of traditional library services.

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