Providing Effective Library Services for Research

Niels Ole Pors (Royal School of Library and Information Science, Copenhagen, Denmark)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 7 March 2008




Ole Pors, N. (2008), "Providing Effective Library Services for Research", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 64 No. 2, pp. 308-310.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The book amounts to 223 pages of text. It has an extensive bibliography amounting to nearly 40 pages and a list of useful web pages and a very good index. The book has also a list of abbreviations and acronyms and a glossary defined main concepts and issues. As usual with publications from Facet, excellent work there has been done with the book and it makes it much easier and pleasant to read and use.

During the last decade and more we have seen an impressive proliferation in the literature on information literacy‐related topics especially directed towards students. It is good to see a book on the service delivery to research and researchers.

The three authors are all well‐known in library and information science circles and they have been very active in the field as international oriented librarians, academics and researchers.

The primary audience for the book is practitioners in academic libraries work with research support and liaison tasks. It is in many ways oriented towards the situation and the challenges in UK. However, both researchers and librarians from elsewhere will find useful and interesting material and discussion in the text.

The book is organised in nine chapters. The first is introductory consisting of the rationale for the book, including the authors' motivations and background. The next eight chapters fall in three categories. The two first chapters are about researchers and the research scene.

The next section is concerned with the services and resources directed towards the research community. The last section, consisting of two chapters, is more reflective in nature discussing the role of libraries in supporting research activity and also includes a look at perceived future challenges.

It is not an easy task to characterise important research issues and research motivations in two rather short chapters, but overall, the authors succeed. They focus on questions and topics relevant for the relationship between research and information issues. The frame is the Research Assessment procedures and in this frame the authors consider emergent issues like institutional repositories, open access, Google and Google Scholar, digital archiving and the complex issues of copyright. They also touch upon plagiarism and related topics. I think they succeed, giving a short, but precise, and informative account of the main problems related to the issues. The next chapter deals more directly with research and motivations for research. The style is different. The authors build the chapter on case stories depicting different types of researchers from PhD students over contract researchers to full professors. The advantage of this approach is that the reader gets a navigated view of pertinent issues and that the reading gains flesh and blood. The drawback is probably that the whole area is covered less comprehensive. However, the area is so big and far reaching that the approach is more than justified.

The second section consists of four chapters dealing with collection management, researchers' toolkit, service facilitation and the information‐literate researcher. Essentially, collection management is seen as an activity that copes with the interplay between researchers' information behaviour, their use of formal and informal sources and the development of the hybrid library. The need for collaboration between service providers is emphasised. The section also includes an extensive listing and discussion of information resources, both printed and digital pertinent for academic research. A more illuminating chapter concerns itself with the pertinent questions about how librarians can act as facilitators and how they can provide a useful range of services directed towards research and researchers. The chapter also copes with what researchers want from the library and how the collaboration can be established. One of the many strengths of the book is how it documents the necessity of exploring the diversity and complexity of researchers information behaviour and needs. The need for promoting the diversified services is discussed thoroughly emphasising the advantage to become part of the local research community. The last chapter in this section is an interesting discussion about teaching researchers information skills using a varied range of approaches all taking departure from the needs of the research world.

The last section, consisting of two chapters, deals with envisaged future challenges. The chapters fit the two first sections together and discuss, for example, the possible use of blogs, e‐research and library 2.0. The last chapter outlines ten key principles for supporting research.

The book gives a good and comprehensive insight into the world of research and researchers' information behaviour, and it elucidates how the library can support research through the range of services they already possess. It is a very useful book and it will undoubtedly give librarians reading it a more informative view of one of the important groups of stakeholders and their information needs and preferences. The mixture of informative text and illustrative case stories works surprisingly well. It is a well‐rounded and well‐worked text that the reviewer recommends.

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