Returning to the LIBER conference every summer is a great chance to catch up with the direction of travel for research libraries. A glance at the spread of presentations is a way of seeing where the focus has shifted over the last 12 months and conversations around the conference add to the sense of energy with which LIBER libraries are grasping new roles in the context of Open Science, Open Data, and Open Access.
In 2017 the conference title “Libraries Powering Sustainable Knowledge in the Digital Age” reflected both confidence that libraries still have a key role in supporting research and the need to ensure that we work with the research community to sustain repositories, open data, and born digital and digitised content. Major themes this year included:
- Impact metrics/altmetrics
- Research data management
- Digital humanities
- The future role for libraries
- Text and data mining and the legal context for digital libraries
- Organisational change and re-skilling staff to support research
- Open infrastructures
The wide range of topics is also an opportunity to get a sense of where Cambridge library services stand in relation to our peers, look at initiatives and projects elsewhere and how they might work our context (or not), and think about priorities. The list doesn’t reflect everything that is going on in European research libraries but it is clear that some subjects have simply disappeared from the agenda. It is taken as read that nearly all new acquisitions are digital, that ‘Open’ is normal (no longer the ‘new normal’), that services are at least on a par with content in terms of priorities, and that therefore libraries have re-invented and re-organised themselves or are currently thinking about the organisational changes need to support new and emerging priorities.
There was a thread in many presentations about library alignment with University priorities, e.g. “we are delivering a bibliometrics service because the University is concerned about its research ranking …”, and that funding follows where this is the case. More on bibliometrics later.