Compiled by Library Council: January 8, 2001Higher Ed Trends | Librarianship Trends | Scholarly Communication Trends | Societal and Economic Trends | WSU & Local Trends
Higher Education Trends
- Research interests have become increasingly interdisciplinary. At the same time, universities continue to be organized according to traditional departments that do not accurately reflect this trend. Libraries, including WSU, have traditionally structured collection budgets according to this same departmental model.
- Universities, as institutions, do not adapt quickly or easily to changing trends or needs. New corporate entities have created competition for higher education, particularly for distance education.
- In a society so dependent on information, there is a critical need for lifelong learning and continuing education.
- Technological developments have offered a wide range of new ways to teach. More and more courses are offered partially or entirely electronically. These developments have also contributed to the tremendous growth in distance education.
- Universities are expected to raise more and more of their funding from private sources. In addition, they must justify their costs in terms of outcome measures closely linked to efficiency and productivity.
- Increasingly, higher education institutions are evaluated according to corporate measurements, appropriate to the "for profit" business world that may not be appropriate for academe. A clear call for assessment of higher education outcomes is coming from legislatures and other funding sources.
- More collaboration and teamwork is required in the work place. More courses require students to collaborate on group projects as part of their coursework. The library has become an important place for these students to meet and work collaboratively.
- The profile of future students will reflect an increasing diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, age, etc. More and more students will experience higher education at a distance.
- Demographic studies of librarians indicate that the profession is aging rapidly and large numbers of librarians will retire in the next 5-10 years. Competition for hiring library school graduates includes software companies and others with deep pockets. The need to attract, hire and retain talented professionals is key to the vitality of academic libraries.
- Libraries will employ professionals who may not be librarians, or who are librarians with other credentials as well. Instructional technology, MIS, and IT professionals are examples.
- Face to face communication with users is decreasing as access to library collections and services from a distance -- anytime, anywhere -- is increasing. Finding effective new ways to retain traditional service values in this dynamic environment is a challenge. The information landscape has become more complex since electronic information now coexists with traditional paper resources. Teaching information literacy skills -- the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively needed information -- is now a key library service.
- With the proliferation of information available on the Internet, the need for skilled librarians to guide users in accessing electronic resources has become increasingly critical.
- The library profession is changing to emphasize the librarian's role as team leader, project manager, and coordinator. Collaborative skills are increasingly important.
- Institutional collaboration has become a major force in collection development and resource sharing. Consortial purchasing of electronic resources allows libraries to extend their buying power. Linked catalogs allow users to borrow directly from other libraries with only a few days turnaround.
- Conversion to new online catalogs or updating existing ones is now a mature process. Library staff expertise and level of comfort with automated systems is increasing. The complexity of the Web and of new and rapidly developing modes of scholarly communication will require libraries to take a leadership role in the development of digital libraries.
- Research libraries are beginning to work with scholars and with smaller publishers of scholarly journals to provide affordable access to high impact journals in the science, technology, and medical (STM) areas. The Association of Research Libraries SPARC (Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition) initiative and the Big 12 Plus BioOne initiative are two examples of innovative programs to control spiraling journal costs and provide library expertise and resources in collaborative electronic publishing ventures. <<
Scholarly Communication Trends
- The nature of scholarly communication is changing, becoming more collaborative and electronic. Researchers are experimenting with new forms of reporting and exchanging findings. The scholarly journal as we know it today, especially in the science, technology, and medical (STM) areas, may be replaced by wholly digital products no longer tied to the concept of "volume" and possibly dynamic, undergoing continuous revision. Electronic preprint services are becoming well established in physics, astronomy, and biosciences. A wide variety of electronic book formats are being developed, and new business models are being explored.
- The publishing industry is in major transition. Consolidation, globalization and aggregation are major trends. Licensing rather than ownership of resources, new pricing structures, changing access modes, and archiving issues are in the forefront. The WWW has become a major resource for students and faculty, and most students own computers. Some companies are developing electronic products to market directly to students, bypassing the library.
- The Internet has become a primary means of scholarly communication but is facing complicated issues in taxation, access, privacy, and copyright. Licensing is replacing copyright because publishers and aggregators want more control of their electronic products.
- Challenges to intellectual freedom are increasing and copyright issues are becoming more complex. <<
Societal and Economic Trends
- The rate of technological change continues to accelerate requiring libraries to maintain an acceptable program of hardware and software upgrades and employee training.
- The widespread adoption of new technologies has altered the expectations of library users. They expect rapid results. They want access to library collections and services at any time from any location. They expect that library resources and information products will be conveniently linked to provide them with user friendly "one-stop shopping."
- Democratization of the work place requires more participative decision-making, as evidenced by the increase in team-based library management.
- Library buying power has declined at a time when demand for new publications and services has grown.
- The loss of individual institutional buying power coupled with the increased availability of electronic information resources has led to more consortial agreements among libraries.
- In our society, information is a highly marketable commodity. Libraries are experiencing increasing competition as primary information service providers. <<
WSU & Local Trends
- As a result of a series of WSU budget reductions, the Libraries has had to reduce its workforce by 22% since 1993.
- Pullman offers limited employment opportunities so there is very little turnover in staff positions within the WSU Libraries.
- Library faculty salaries at WSU are the lowest among public universities in Washington State and among the lowest at our peer institutions. Additionally, there is inadequate financial support for professional travel and development.
- As long as WSU has a weak budget outlook, there will be a continual threat of budget decline at the various campuses with concomitant reductions in library resources.
- WSU Libraries' buying power has declined at a time when demand for new publications and services has grown. The total number of books published in the U.S. more than doubled between 1986 and 1999, from 51,000 to 120,000, and the average cost per book doubled. The WSU Libraries spent only $160,000 more on books in 1999 ($773,132) than the Pullman campus libraries spent in 1986. From 1986 to 1999, the average journal price increased 3.4 times; the average STM journal price quadrupled. WSU Libraries expenditures for journals increased only 2.5 times between 1986 and 1999. The graph and table below show expenditure trends for the median ARL library from 1986 to 1999. The graph includes the comparable percentage increases for the WSU Libraries from 1986-1999. As can be seen, the WSU Libraries trail the ARL median library in every category. It is important to note that the 1986 data are for the WSU Pullman campus only, but the 1999 data are for all WSU campuses. Thus, the expenditure trends for the WSU Libraries in Pullman are even worse. <<
Table 4: Expenditure Trends in ARL Libraries, 1986-1999 Median Values for Time-Series Trends,
Unadjusted dollar figures
(No. of Libraries)
* NOTE: Table from: http://www.arl.org/stats/arlstat/1999t4.html << -Top
* NOTE: Graph from: http://www.arl.org/stats/arlstat/1999t4.html << -Top
NS: LC - Environmental Factors, January 8, 2001