NFAIS: Miles Conrad Lecture

The day ended with Lorcan Dempsey of OCLC who gave the Miles Conrad Lecture on “Universities, libraries, collections, futures.” Lorcan started by warning us that he does not have a lot of evidence to show us in relation to the trends he is going to introduce us to.

Education Trends

Lorcan began by taking us on a tour of universities in his area of Ohio via Google Maps. In this area there are not only several traditional and liberal arts colleges, but many for-profit colleges like Devry and University of Phoenix. The point of this tour was to explain to use the variety of educational models. Lorcan shared with us a quote from the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Colleges have three basic business models for attracting and keeping students. Two will continue to work in the next decade and one almost certainly will not.” The two they say will succeed are the elite/research institutes with a strong brand that are connected to international network of science and scholarship and the convenient educational institutes, like those that provide education as a service and focus on continuing ed and adult education. The one that will no succeed is the struggling middle – those institutions with a broad education focus and have not kept up with distance and convenience agendas. These institutions in the middle here have an unclear brand and direction.

That may be why many educational institutions are trying to concentrate their resources on research excellence – both in the US and abroad. On the other hand, for-profit education institutes – aka the convenient institutions are the largest growing category in this area. These two models are having an influence on the models for those in the middle.

Collection Trends

In our libraries we of course are going to see the volume of publications continue to grow, but format will become less important than the channel. We’re going to see research and learning materials as social objects – social will become a major element of all publishing.

Right now in libraries digital collection expenditure far outweighs the amount spent on print products in our libraries already. Lorcan showed us data from Michael Cairns who theorizes that in 10 years most of the content we have in print will be available in digital formats. This means we’re going from a model of buying content to leasing content (this is pretty true already with our database subscriptions).

A lot of what we have been doing is bringing content from the outside into our library. The question now becomes how do we get our content out to the appropriate audience.

While Academic libraries are spending more each year, they are spending proportionally less of the total university budget on resources for their collections.

Library Trends

The original purpose of libraries in our institutions was to make it easy for students and faculty to have access to the information sources they needed. Now, we’re seeing that people can find more convenient information services from their homes – aka Google. Libraries have to decide what to keep internally and what to farm out to services online.

Over the next few years, libraries are going find some infrastructure challenges. They’re going to find print increasingly becoming collaborative, meaning there will collaborative arrangements with other institutions. They’re also going need to find ways to store digital content versus print – or in addition to print.

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