Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: New Library World, Volume 115, Issue 11/12
The present double issue of New Library World has a strong international flavour to it, with contributions from North America, Crete, Iran and Africa. While the topics covered are as diverse as the authors’ different home countries, the papers have all been selected because of their contribution to advancing knowledge within the field of library and information science. It is evident throughout that the significant pressure on librarians and information specialists as a consequence of demographic, social, economic, political and technological change is increasing, and ways have to be found of ensuring that the services provided remain not only vital to library users but also effective and efficient, adding maximum value.
Derek Marshall and Susan Hall look at the ways in which the concept of embedded librarianship can be utilised in academic organisations to ensure maximum linkage with, and responsive to, specific client groups. Branch libraries and librarians are seen as the epitome of “embeddedness”, and the strategies for branch management in a contemporary context are explored.
The management of an organisation’s printing infrastructure is a challenging task, often given to the library as the major central service. Cost-effectiveness is key and the Library of the University of Crete developed its own approach, given the paucity of open source and enterprise platforms for such activity, especially when management and accounting routines are required. Michael Kalochristianakis describes the University’s experiences of developing their own printing infrastructure in the context of efficient and sustainable systems that have the capacity to reduce costs. The lessons learned in Crete have a broader application, given the implementation of the infrastructure over a number of years.
Library and information science in Africa is still very much in the process of playing catch-up. Edda Lwoga and Alfred Sife report on their research into the publication productivity and scholarly impact of academic librarians in Tanzania over a 30-year period up to 2013 as a way of identifying the areas of professional activity for greatest development and how this might best be achieved. Again, the case study has broader application in an African context.
The theme of professional development in a changing and challenging world is the subject of Shu Guo’s study of librarians’ continuing education. While the emphasis is on inhouse programmes at Central Michigan University, the evaluation of the work undertaken has a wider significance at a time when, as already stated, the future role of librarians is being questioned and reformulated as never before.
Reference Management Software (RMS) is used increasingly as an integral part of the academic writing process. Experience of library and information science students and staff in Iranian universities and the broader research associated with the study described by Maryam Sarrafzadeh and Afsaneh Azeri, suggest that skilled RMS usage requires training and development beyond that typically provided at present. Librarians have the potential to offer such instruction, provided that they develop the requisite knowledge and skills.
Given the turbulent environment in which the profession of librarianship now operates, the future career prospects of library and information science (LIS) students is of obvious concern. The study of LIS graduates from Mzuzu University in Malawi by Aubrey Chaputula provides a salutary lesson for all those involved in education for librarianship in terms of the match between qualifications and requirements in the workplace. The status, role and value of librarians – long debated in the western world – remains an issue, both in Africa and more broadly.
David Michael Baker