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Re-­skilling for Research / An investigation into the role and skills of subject and liaison librarians required to effectively support the evolving information needs of researchers

Janvier 2012

Publié le 16 février 2012, par Thérèse Hameau

Executive Summary (excerpts)

RLUK, Research Libraries UK is a long-­‐established consortium of the top research-­‐led institutions in the UK and Ireland. The consortium has successfully initiated new ideas, plans, projects and services with the single aim of providing some of the best support for research libraries and information services in the UK and beyond.

RLUK is aware of the considerable recent discussion and analysis of reserachers’needs and the continuing rapid changes in the research landscape. The survival of the subject/liaison role in libraries is dependent on an agile and flexible response by staff in those roles, and by their managers. While much work has been done in recent years to re-­‐energise support for teaching and learning, more is still required to develop subject/liaison support for research, despite the emergence of new roles, such as data librarians. RLUK commissioned Mary Auckland to undertake a study to map the information needs of researchers onto tasks to be undertaken by Subject Librarians, information specialists and liaison staff, in order to develop the skills sets of existing staff to ensure they meet the needs of a constantly changing research environment.

...

Most significantly, the findings indicate that there is a high skills gap in nine key areas where future involvement by Subject Librarians is considered to be important now and is also expected to grow sharply. It is in these areas that consideration needs to be given, and decisions made, with respect to training and development, and recruitment. The nine areas are listed below :

  • Ability to advise on preserving research outputs (49% essential in 2-­‐5 years ; 10% now)
  • Knowledge to advise on data management and curation, including ingest, discovery, access, dissemination, preservation, and portability (48% essential in 2-­‐5 years ; 16% now)
  • Knowledge to support researchers in complying with the various mandates of funders, including open access requirements (40% essential in 2-­‐5 years ; 16% now)
  • Knowledge to advise on potential data manipulation tools used in the discipline/ subject (34% essential in 2-­‐5 years ; 7% now)
  • Knowledge to advise on data mining (33% essential in 2-­‐5 years ; 3% now)
  • Knowledge to advocate, and advise on, the use of metadata (29% essential in 2-­‐5 years ; 10% now)
  • Ability to advise on the preservation of project records e.g. correspondence (24% essential in 2-­‐5 years ; 3% now )
  • Knowledge of sources of research funding to assist researchers to identify potential funders (21% essential in 2-­‐5 years ; 8% now)
  • Skills to develop metadata schema, and advise on discipline/subject standards and practices, for individual research projects (16% essential in 2-­‐5 years ; 2% now)

...

This investigation has highlighted an exciting and demanding new role for Subject Librarians in supporting the information and research data needs of researchers that embraces a range of new and modernised
services and support, and that builds on their existing traditional and valued role. A shift can be seen which takes Subject Librarians into a world beyond information discovery and management, collection development and information literacy training, to one in which they play a much greater part in the research process and in particular in the management, curation and preservation of research data, and in
scholarly communication and the effective dissemination of research outputs.

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