Open not shut case (2 of 2)

September 27, 2012

"Working on borrowed time?" gives a misleading view of the future of academic libraries. It falls into the trap of implying that libraries are only buildings that contain books and librarians are people who merely manage collections. This is not the whole story.

Visits to libraries are on the rise and forward-looking institutions are investing in new library facilities. This is because libraries and librarians remain as central as ever to the academic mission of their institutions. As the Moving towards an Open Access Future report recognises, "libraries play key information access roles in their institutions" and the skills that librarians already possess, such as managing metadata, will be vital in an open-access landscape. This is especially true since the "discoverability of open-access content will be key to its usefulness".

Librarians at individual institutions are already working together, licensing content across consortia to reduce costs. In addition, the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) and its members are at the heart of proposals for a new national digital library, a resource that would allow academic libraries easy access to a core selection of materials.

Far from opting for the "quiet life", librarians will continue to play a hugely important role providing advice and support to students, researchers and academics. We look forward to an open-access future.

Ann Rossiter, Executive director, Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL)

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