Author Archives: janet

Summary of Hot Topics discussion at WLIC Poland August 2017

At the 2017 IFLA WLIC in Wroclaw, Poland, the Academic & Research Libraries committee once again hosted its popular Hot Topics session.  The session, which was attended by more than 180, opened with provocative lightning talks by three committee members, each of whom posed questions to the attendees.  The program then moved to table discussions on those questions, facilitated by committee members.  The presentations and associated questions were:

  • Data management & the role of libraries in the evolving research lifecycle
    presented by Mimi Calter, Deputy University Librarian, Stanford University, USA

    • What level of engagement does your organization have with research data management? Is that level appropriate?
    • Do your staff have the skills needed to manage research data? What reskilling efforts are required?
    • How will your data management efforts intertwine with other priorities for your organization?
  • Fake news arbitration: the role of the library
    presented by Gerald Beasley, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian, University of Alberta, Canada

    • Is “fake news” any concern of libraries?
    • Should libraries collect and provide access to “fake news”?
    • What tools (if any) should libraries offer users to identify “fake news”?
  • Information literacy programs – essential or a waste of time?
    presented by Janet Fletcher, University Librarian, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand

    • You have been asked to create an information literacy program for academic staff across your university.  What would you do? How would you know that you have been successful?
    • The universities across your region/country are engaging a consultant to design an information literacy program that every institution must use.  What would it look like?
    • Do you think your information literacy program(s) are important and why?

There was lively discussion following the presentations.  Key points raised in the table discussions are summarized below.

Data Management

  • Data management proved to be an area of significant interest to most participants, and there is interest in data management and data services from almost all libraries.  However, the level of involvement differed significantly by region and type of library.  In some countries and libraries, data management is a very low priority as there are so many other pressing issues.  In others, data is one of the most pressing concerns
    • From China: “Data management is very important – we have a consortium with 50 members to manage IR/software platforms and integrate data to our members, full data in their local institutions by cataloging level. Department named info management was funded two years ago, and is becoming more and more important.”
    • From the Netherlands: Data management became a hot topic in The Netherlands and all university libraries are struggling with their role regarding this topic. “I am skeptical about the library’s role in data management because of the specific characteristics of data, but I am not skeptical about helping people write data management plans.  This more educational approach fits the libraries.”
    • In the US, a Federal mandate for research data has increased interest and focus on research data management.  The skills of librarians are being sought after by the institutions
  • Most of those engaged with data believe that library involvement in Research Data Management helps increase recognition of librarians and their skills
  • There was hot debate on whether librarians have the required skills for research data management, with opinions going to either extreme
  • In a related discussion, it was felt that it was important that librarians embrace the ongoing development and improvement of their skill sets
  • Receiving data is a repeated concern.  A lot of researchers don´t want to share their data, and librarians invest significant effort in organizing data deposits
  • Many organizations are leveraging institutional repository infrastructure for data storage and management
  • Standards for data management are a developing area and are a repeated concern.  This is an area where libraries, and perhaps IFLA, can coordinate
  • There was discussion of the two capacities of an institutional repository: data generated by researchers, and data brought in from external agencies.  Libraries are frequently involved in the storage and management of purchased data sets

Fake News

  • Most participants agreed that Information literacy is linked to fake news, and generally agreed that the library has a role in addressing the issues.  Several participants particularly noted that students don’t have the skills they need to distinguish fake news, so libraries must train them
  • It was noted that fake news is itself a news item, and can be expected to be a topic of study.  Thus, it is important that libraries collect fake news, along with real news, to facilitate future research
  • A participant from Beirut noted: “We always need to validate information, and interrogate the authenticity of data we receive.  Undergrads are not really aware of the need to interrogate data and question if it is authentic”

Information Literacy Programs

  • Most participants felt information literacy was important, and it was generally agreed that the attention to fake news was driving an interest in information literacy, though there are other motivators as well
    • From the USA: Assessment is driving information literacy, integrated into accreditation for standards across the country.  WASC standards are one example, where information literacy is a component of assessment.
  • Several participants noted that information literacy programs tend to be focused on undergraduates, but there is broader applicability
    • From the Philippines: Yes, it’s important, people don’t know what to look for or how to look for it, and faculty often don’t know what information literacy is.  We can frame the issue for research professors
  • There was much less consensus on the effectiveness of information literacy efforts, and on the specific tools that should be used
    • It was noted that “information literacy” is not understood by academics; “research skills” is preferred


Mimi Calter

1 November 2017

Hong Kong – next generation shared ILS by Leo Ma


After using Millennium (formerly Innopac) for more than two decades, all eight government funded university libraries in Hong Kong (known as JULAC libraries) decided in June 2016 to adopt a new shared integrated library system (ILS) on cloud platform for collection management and innovative service delivery, which is the first of its kind in Greater China. The new shared ILS contains both print and electronic collections, and holds altogether more than 18 million bibliographic records. It facilitates unified access and retrieval of information for over 380,000 users.

After a year-long planning, JULAC libraries implemented the new shared ILS and discovery platform, supported by Alma and Primo from Ex Libris, on 18 July 2017. The new shared ILS is a next generation library management system which enables JULAC libraries to manage, build and share their collections through a single, streamlined interface. It provides one-stop access point for cross-institution search and better support for mobile devices to enhance user experience. With the rich analytics provided by the new shared ILS, JULAC libraries are able to optimize collection use and user experience by harvesting and analyzing the big data generated by the platform. Other improvements include open standards for future system integration, improved operational workflow, deeper collaboration among the JULAC Libraries, system maintenance and IT support savings, just to name a few.

More details available at:

The changing landscape of academic libraries in South Africa from subject librarianship to functional librarianship by Reggie Raju and Jill Claassen

Restructuring for relevance: the restructuring of a South African research-led university library

The higher education system in South Africa is poised for significant change. However, that change is a double edged sword. On the one hand, there is the positive change with regard to pedagogy, rapid growth of commensurate technology, the accelerated transition to interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary research and learning; and on the other hand, there is a continuous decline in government funding. The role of the academic library within this changing paradigm is also in transition from a reactive support service to a proactive collaborative/partnership service. The library’s suite of services has to be dynamic and agile to stay relevant as techno-savvy users are very capable to fulfilling, on their own, their information needs, rendering the reference service provided by the library irrelevant. The mainstay of traditional academic librarianship is now being challenged. There is a dire need for academic library revitalization.

At the core of this academic library revitalization in South Africa is the move away from subject librarianship, which has been the bedrock of academic librarianship for decades, to functional librarianship. The University of Cape Town (UCT) Libraries has taken the bold step in developing a library structure that responds positively to the demands for library revitalization through the redefinition of the roles and responsibilities of the library and to strategically position the academic library for the future – ‘future proofing of the academic library’.

Using the seminal findings of the RLUK’s Reskilling for Research, UCT Libraries went about with the restructuring process. The first port of call was to rename client-facing section, now referred to as Research and Learning, which is now dynamically aligned to UCT’s research, teaching and learning strategy. For a staffing complement of around 80 people, there are only six job descriptions enhancing agility and flexibility. To ensure that the services keep pace with international trends, there were functional experts in scholarly communication (including open access publishing) bibliometrics, systematic reviews, clinical librarianship, bibliographic referencing and in the librarian as teacher. There is expectation that these functional experts will continually research trends in their specific areas of expertise. Learnings gleaned from the research will be shared in biannual training sessions. A typical example of growth in a specific area of specialization is the provision of a publishing service within the ambit of scholarly communication. In the last 18 months, the Libraries has published seven open books, three of which are textbooks. The Libraries is in the midst of negotiating the publishing of another three open textbooks. Colleagues assigned to the provision of the ‘library as publisher’ service are working with the developers of the software and is one of a handful of institutions world-wide that is rolling-out the latest version of the software. This transition to functionalism has provided the Libraries with the opportunity to trail and subsequently mainstream diamond open access publishing.

Given the growing expertise of the ‘librarians’, they are now in a position to offer the research communities (both academics and students) a far deeper and richer service. The move away from subject librarianship to functional librarianship is responding positively to institutional imperatives and reinstating the Libraries centrality in the teaching and learning and, research activities of the university.

Prepared by Reggie Raju and Jill Claassen

Trends with European academic libraries by Adelaida Ferrer Torrens

In the last year, European university libraries have continued to work on topics such as research support, the new role of learning in their institutions and changes in the roles of their professionals.

However, the theme that has led to more projects and more interest has been the implementation from libraries to support open science in universities. Associations such as LIBER have strengthened the work of managing open research data, thereby facilitating research at European universities.

Academic libraries, as institutions of memory, keep in their places bibliographic resources of great interest to researchers, the need for digital transformation has led to the promotion of the digital humanities in most European university libraries. The digitization of these funds allows and will increase the possible actions for the benefit of our researchers. The number of collections in different institutional repositories is increasing exponentially, with the primary objective of promoting research, actions in the knowledge of this area of ​​knowledge.

In the field of data, management from the European Union is working on different projects; I would highlight EOSCpilot whose aim is to make full use of the potential of the data for research. This objective is intended to avoid as far as possible the fragmentation of infrastructures, creating a unique infrastructure to enable all scientific areas to be worked on and to improve interoperability between them.

In the area of ​​student services, it has provided space for group learning, creative spaces, changes in traditional library services and creation of applications that provide access to resources virtually. Users are increasingly able to access the main European library funds through their phones. Participation in the curriculum is one of the most important challenges of university libraries, which represents a significant change in the role of university libraries.

Within these actions to promote the use of data, in Europe are being mobilized different university libraries and research centers to ensure that Elsevier’s TDM policy is modified in order to facilitate research in the use of data .

Another important area of ​​action, from a long time ago work continues on the modification of the European intellectual property framework and libraries should ensure the interest of researchers commit to improve existing exceptions for research, making common and binding for all Member States from the European Parliament.

In the field of learning, the challenge of university libraries is to become actively involved in the studies that are taught in their respective institutions combining the application of educational technology and understanding that the library spaces are a space more than the Classes where they are taught

Adelaida Ferrer Torrens
Universitat de Barcelona
Learning and Research Resources Centre (CRAI)


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.

Trends in Singapore

Let me begin by giving a brief context to Singapore’s higher education and research ecosystem. There are six universities in Singapore which are, in order of longevity, National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore Management University (SMU), Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). National Institute of Education (NIE) is associated with NTU and is both an educational and research institution.  Yale – NUS is a partnership between NUS and Yale universities.

There are a number of polytechnics which offer vocational training and education. National Library of Singapore is one of the major research libraries in Singapore. A*Star, Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research  and NRF, National Research Foundation are involved in scientific research, but also provide funding and support to other institutions for research.

Here are some highlights of both collaborative and institutional activities and trends amongst Singapore’s academic libraries. For practical reasons, I will focus mainly on NUS, NTU, SMU and SUTD.

Collaborative activities amongst Singapore Academic and Research Libraries

Librarians involved in information literacy (IL) from NUS, NTU and SMU Libraries meet regularly to discuss issues affecting information literacy, such as, the roles and responsibilities of Heads of Learning in up skilling Information Literacy librarians and the new ACRL framework and its implementation.  One of the initiatives this group started was to have IL librarians from the three university libraries observe each library’s IL programmes to learn from each other through observation and discussions.  Librarians who attended each other’s IL programmes shared their feedback and learnt from each other. An ACRL Information Literacy Immersion programme was organized by NUS in recent times and librarians from other universities were invited to participate and shared the cost.

A Day in the Life of…..  is a staff development programme jointly organized amongst NUS, NTU, SMU, SUTD, SIM and NIE with the aim of exposing library staff who may not have experience in libraries other their own or may be new graduates to different libraries, colleagues and their ideas, approaches and practices. The programme is run twice a year with three hosts per run and one participant from each institution each time. It is a full day programme where the participants undertake the planning, coordination and organisation of the day at their own libraries. This programme has been running since 2013.

Singapore academic librarians have been collaborating to organise a number of international conferences over the years, for example IATUL 2012, IFLA Congress 2013 and the Joint Business Librarians conference 2016. Some of us will be hosting various satellite conferences prior to the 2018 IFLA Congress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Scholarly Communication

NTU, NUS, SMU, NIE and A*Star have all been managing their institutions’ repositories of research publications for many years. NTU, SMU and A*Star have had open access policies or mandates for some time. NTU Library has taken on a leadership role in supporting research data management activities at NTU. The Library has been providing training workshops for faculty and researchers in how to think about their data management needs. SMU Libraries has taken on the role of business owner for SMU’s research publications database which is a module of IRIS (Integrated Research Information System). NTU, NUS SMU and SUTD libraries have been collaboration partners with researchers and research units at their parent institutions in a range of research related initiatives. NTU, NUS, and SMU have co-developed an online Research Data Management guide, adapted locally by each institution. Staff from NTU, NUS, SMU, SUTD and NIE who are involved and interested in research data management meet regularly to exchange information about what they are doing in their respective institutions.

Student, faculty, community engagement

NTU Library Services have rolled out a compulsory Information Literacy for Undergraduates (ILUG) programme integrated into both the foundation and advanced modules across all Schools/Colleges.

All academic libraries in Singapore are involved in implementing a variety of information literacy programmes customized to the needs of specific groups of students, ranging from first year undergraduate to PhD students and faculty.

Singapore, being a highly connected and technologically advanced country, offers many opportunities for libraries to use a variety of technologies, apps and social media channels to engage students. There is a high level of laptop and smart phone ownership amongst Singapore students. Librarians have been experimenting with a variety of media and apps for service offerings, information literacy and communication with students and faculty.

Most academic and research libraries in Singapore offer short to medium term training or internship opportunities to librarians working in Asia Pacific and beyond as part of international collaboration efforts. Study visits to and from libraries in the ASEAN and APAC regions are not uncommon. In fact, librarians in developing countries in the region often come to Singapore to learn from Singapore’s libraries and librarians.

Spaces, buildings, facilities and assessment

After years of planning, SMU’s  Kwa Geok Choo Law Library named after the late Madam Kwa Geok Choo, a lawyer and wife of the late Lee Kuan Yew, the  founding father of Singapore and the mother of the current Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong was unveiled by the Prime Minister on March 15, 2017.

NUS, NTU and SMU Libraries have been repurposing and renovating library spaces and facilities on an on-going basis over the years. SUTD, having moved to their new library building recently has been enjoying an innovative library designed to exploit technology for service delivery and enhancement through interactive walls, writable surfaces.

At SMU, over 80% of library staff have been trained in Lean Six Sigma (Green Belt) to create and enhance culture of assessment and innovation amongst staff. 82% of NUS Librarians attended a certified service design thinking course which was focused on understanding, planning and implementing innovative services or products.

Most academic libraries in Singapore use a variety of client satisfaction surveys, benchmarking and assessment methods, such as LibQual, Insync, UX, data analysis, analytics and so on.

It is pleasing to see a steady increase of research papers, conference presentations and other types of publications produced by a growing number of Singapore librarians both in the local and regional fora, but also internationally, considering the size of Singapore. Singapore librarians attend many international conferences, undertake study tours, and participate in committees and working groups of many international professional organisations, such as IFLA, IATUL, PRRLA, LATIN, AUNILO and so on.

Gulcin Cribb
University Librarian
Singapore Management University

Do you speak Library? (if you do, then maybe it’s time to learn a new language)

The University senior administrators world is one of KPIs, analytics and performance indicators, and they are typically focussed only a small number of strategically important issues at any one time – student recruitment, teaching quality, student retention, academic outcomes, research success – it is rarely library services.

Libraries, as we well know, deliver services and manage facilities that make a positive (often critical) contribution to all of the above topics and much more besides. On the face of it, this ought to be a win-win situation, but sometimes it is not because we have a tendency when talking about our achievements and plans for the future to do so using language that is far too modest about our role and impact, and couched in language that is too inward facing.  And this is a problem, because often, our world and the world of the senior administrators are very different and we don’t share a common language. This means we need to become “bi-lingual” – continue to speak library yes, but also be fluent in the language of the Vice Chancellor, Provost, Principal, FD, CFO etc because you can be sure they won’t want to learn library. In my experience, many library managers find this a difficult language to learn.

The story the senior administrator often hears of the library is a negative one; the library is expensive, takes up a lot of valuable real estate, and, if not exactly seen as a blocker or barrier to university developments, is rarely regarded as part of the solution to the bigger institution wide challenges referred to above.

Yet if we were tuned in to their language we would know that what they actually want to hear from us that is we can contribute positively to change, or at the very least, help reduce risk to the institution. We need to be bold and confident, and remind senior staff that we are experts in our field, professional, committed and good at delivering on promises. The challenge is to translate what we often find easiest to describe in terms of input, process and system developments into outputs that be defined in terms of the wider institution – macro not micro level deliverables.

But this is easier said than done. If I were to rank how successful I think libraries are at communicating and engaging with other groups I would probably say we are best at talking to other librarians, next with academics, researchers and students and place senior administrators at the bottom of the pile. And while we want to be good at getting our message across to all the above groups, the one with most strategic importance is the one we are least good at, because if we are not good at that then we reduce our capacity to have anything interesting or positive to say to the other groups!

This is only one aspect of communicating our value of course. The last decade has witnessed significant attention to the challenge of demonstrating value in a measurable/scientific way, and while a lot of progress has been made it still, for most libraries, remains more aspiration than reality. Perhaps understandably we have become increasingly fixated on the importance of this in terms of how we present and demonstrate our value to our parent institutions, but while the search for convincing ‘hard data’ continues, we must not lose sight of ‘just’ being a trusted partner, working at institution level, and operating in a way that senior administrators can relate to.

So the next time you need to develop a new service or safeguard an existing one, tell your senior staff that you have an interesting proposal to help with student retention, or estate space planning or research grant capture or whatever resonates with them at the time and see how the conversation goes!

Mike Berrington