Tracking trends that impact teaching and learning

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 10 November 2014



Mitchell, E. and Watstein, S.B. (2014), "Tracking trends that impact teaching and learning", Reference Services Review, Vol. 42 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Tracking trends that impact teaching and learning

Article Type: Editorial From: Reference Services Review, Volume 42, Issue 4

Why should librarians track trends? Trend research informs our approach to the future. It enables the development of effective strategies, the acquisition of relevant products and the implementation of on-trend services that will help librarians find momentum in an ever-evolving set of circumstances. Tracking trends will help you make informed decisions leading to progressive, even pre-emptive actions guiding your library’s future.

We encourage readers to actively track trends that impact higher education, teaching and learning, technology, scholarly communications and more. You can sift through an ever-increasing array of opinion and research; develop criteria to assess likelihood, impact and timing; create matrices to collect, track and communicate the data; and use this information to manage your reactions and responses to the changes in the environment. Or you can benefit from the work of well-oiled machines, such as the New Media Consortium’s Horizon project, which make it their business to track, assess and organize information about our future.

The NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition (Johnson et al., 2014) was introduced this summer at International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) 80th General Conference and Assembly in Lyon, France. This is the 12th year that the New Media Consortium’s Horizon Project has produced a report that identifies trends, focusing on their technological implications, with an impact window of one to five years and beyond; and this is the first such report focused on emerging technologies and their potential impact on academic and research libraries. The topics in the report are identified and honed by an international panel of experts across various disciplines – library management, technology, education, etc. We can eavesdrop on their deliberations and discussions through their wiki at (accessed 7 September 2014), which is a very rich record of their process and a unique resource for research on the topics they considered. Following their model, you can skim the surface for an overview of issues or deep dive into the details.

As library directors, we are interested in how you use the Horizon Report in your institutions, and how you integrate this kind of forecasting into your planning for resources, staffing, spaces and budgets. We can imagine staff retreats where the implications for your institution are explored, or the establishment of task forces to “own” different trends and help fashion local responses. You can use this kind of report to inform your campus and to provide foundation for budget and staffing requests. Or you might track the trends relevant to libraries over the past years and analyze whether the timeframe or the impact was as imagined. As editors, we hope that the articles we publish in Reference Services Review presage these trends and help you prepare for the challenges wrought and resolved through technology.

We are confident you will agree that the manuscripts in this issue also cover important developments in our field. Jumonville focuses on the role of faculty autonomy in a course-integrated information literacy program. Johnston et al. explore the information literacy experience of English as a Foreign Language student. Dali and Alsabbagh consider access to translated fiction in Canadian public libraries. Readers who wonder why an article that could traditionally be classified as one on “technical services” is in a journal related to reference librarianship will be surprised! The centerpiece of the issue is the annual bibliography of library instruction and information literacy. Here, Detmering and his colleagues consider the contributions that continue to advance our understanding of library instruction and information literacy. The annotations will help readers determine which sources are relevant to a line of inquiry.

Eleanor Mitchell and Sarah Barbara Watstein


Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V. and Freeman, A. (2014), “NMC horizon report: 2014 library edition”, The New Media Consortium, Austin, TX, available at: 10 September 2014).

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