CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Envisioning our future
Article Type:Editorial From: Reference Services Review, Volume 42, Issue 3
Whether we are in academic or public libraries, this much is true: the jury is still out as concerns both envisioning and building for our future. Books or no books? Library space or learning space? Library space or community space? Places to search and discover, or places to experiment, create and learn? The once vs the future library? The library mold vs breaking out of the library mold? Future-focused spaces of learning? The component pieces aside, there is no question but that academic and public library staff alike are under pressure, direct and indirect, to evolve new ways of supporting our users, and, for those in administration, under pressure to evolve new ways of furthering our institutional missions.
A long-term envisioned future is part of the Association of College & Research Libraries “Plan for Excellence” (hereafter the Plan)[#fn1]. Both a vision and a vivid description of a desired future are part of the Plan. Straightforward, weighing in at 17 words and comprising 1 sentence, the vision is deceptively simple at first glance – “Academic and research librarians and libraries are essential to a thriving global community of learners and scholars”. Acknowledging the criticality of our role, the vision concludes with an emphasis on learners and scholars, dual (and sometimes simultaneous) roles on the academic continuum.
The Plan includes five-year goals and objectives. Here three areas in particular are highlighted: the value of academic libraries, student learning and the research and scholarly environment. Supporting goals challenge our institutions to “demonstrate alignment with and impact on institutional outcomes”. Supporting goals also challenge us to “transform student learning, pedagogy and instructional practices through creative and innovative collaborations” and to “accelerate the transition to a more open system of scholarship”. Corollary objectives provide further calls to action. We appreciate that these objectives are specific and measurable. They suggest indicators of success; nationally, and indeed locally, the next step is to identify available resources that must be allocated to achieve these goals. We especially appreciate that every goal takes into consideration both the current state of the Association and the profession and our aspirations, so we can focus on closing the gap.
We suggest it is worthwhile for readers to take stock, to appraise progress to date in their libraries in the broad areas advocated by the five-year Plan, now in its third year. Taking stock should not be too onerous a process. Consider the resources you have allocated to these areas. Consider, too, progress and potentialities; opportunities sought and opportunities lost; partnerships supported and strengthened and partnerships broken; ways you have promoted the principles of open scholarship; and ways you have enabled or hindered open scholarship.
And […] if you find you need a break from taking stock, consider the manuscripts in this issue of Reference Services Review – manuscripts that crisscross myriad landscapes. Information literacy remains a focus for several authors (Critical thinking, information literacy and quality enhancement plans; Information literacy learning as epistemological process; and Library instruction for first-year students). Outreach captures one author’s attention (Old wine in a new bottle: customer orientation in librarianship). Service design, delivery and outcomes are important to other contributors (RDA: cataloging standards affect reference service; Student reflections on multimodal course content delivery; and Librarians and instructors developing student learning outcomes: using frameworks to lead the process). Finally, our colleagues from Nigeria and Pakistan explore service status in their countries (The use of bibliographic management software by Indian library and information science professionals and Reference inquiries received through different channels: the challenges reference librarians face in university libraries in Nigeria).
Eleanor Mitchell and Sarah Barbara Watstein
The Plan was approved on April 20, 2011, and effective on July 1, 2011. It was reaffirmed in September 2013, and objectives revised in November 2013. http://www.ala.org/acrl/aboutacrl/strategicplan/stratplan (accessed 16 June 2014).