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The dogs bark and the circus moves on

John D Robinson (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, London, UK)

The Bottom Line

ISSN: 0888-045X

Article publication date: 6 July 2015




The paper aims to set out challenges that libraries face while developing their Digital Library capabilities and capacity and propose an approach to estimating the costs for these functions. There is a skills challenge as well as an organisational challenge. The opportunities to build new teams or re-train existing staff are discussed.


The approach builds on a 2008 paper about Digital Library economics and discusses the changes in the environment since then. A model is described in which a library takes on the full responsibility for building and operating a Digital Library function in-house. This is used to benchmark other options such as managed services, outsourced infrastructure and “cloud” services.


The Open Access Publication and Research Data Management mandates present challenges to all libraries based in academic institutions in the UK. New working methods and new costs are unavoidable. There are a number of ways to deal with this depending upon the institutional circumstance. The bottom line can be increases in revenue budgets of around 10 per cent with variable requirements for capital investment.


Libraries and librarians have different experiences in closely working with colleagues in information technology (IT). A number of propositions are presented about the value of cooperation and collaboration between library and IT and also with external partners and service providers.



Robinson, J.D. (2015), "The dogs bark and the circus moves on", The Bottom Line, Vol. 28 No. 1/2, pp. 7-18.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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