A vision for the academic library and information services of the future

Exploring the challenges faced by higher education, libraries and information services to facilitate strategic planning

A visionary project is being funded as part of a joint initiative to explore future scenarios for academic libraries and information services, particularly in the context of a rapidly-changing environment. It will help higher education institutions and organisations look at the challenges faced from a fresh focus and formulate strategies to ensure the sector continues to be a leading global force.

The project partners are the British Library, Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), Research Information Network (RIN), Research Libraries UK (RLUK) and the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL). 'Academic libraries of the future' is an 18-month project being undertaken by Curtis+Cartwright Consulting Ltd.

Libraries are fundamental to learning, teaching and research. But the world is changing. How will UK higher education be funded and operated in the long-term future? What will be the information needs of users? Factors such as the digital revolution, the knowledge economy, students and researchers as 'consumers' and the global economic crisis, are all transforming the landscape.

Developing and implementing business strategies over a three- to five-year timescale is now commonplace in higher education. Looking beyond this horizon (over ten to 20 years, or more) is less common, and more challenging - but to improve decision-making and plan effectively for the future, this longer-term time scale must be considered.

A series of workshops will be held during 2010-2011 with the aim of imagining and describing possible futures for libraries. They will bring together a wide range of influential stakeholders, including institutional senior managers, librarians, funders, students, researchers, suppliers, technologists, legal specialists and others.

The first two workshops are taking place in February and March 2010 to scope out the broad global environment and consider possible futures for higher education and the information needs of users within these scenarios. These will be followed by smaller focused workshops during the summer of 2010 to gain a more in-depth analysis.

The consultants welcome input from all stakeholders, if you are interested in finding out more or being involved in the project, please contact Dr Claire Davies, email claire.davies@curtiscartwright.co.uk or telephone +44 (0) 1483 685022.

Notes to Editors

The British Library (www.bl.uk) is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation. It includes: books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages.

About the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)

JISC (www.jisc.ac.uk) is a joint committee of the UK further and higher education funding bodies, and is responsible for supporting the innovative use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to support learning, teaching, and research.  It is best known for providing the SuperJANET network, a range of services, and a portfolio of high-quality resources. Information about the JISC, its services and programmes can be found in the What we do section.

About the Research Information Network (RIN)

The RIN (www.rin.ac.uk) is an independent organisation, established and funded by a consortium of the four higher education funding bodies, the three UK national libraries and the seven research councils. Its mission is to lead and co-ordinate new developments in the collaborative provision of research information for the benefit of researchers in the UK. The key role of the RIN is to give the strategic leadership required to establish a national framework for research information provision, and to generate effective and sustainable arrangements for meeting the information needs of the professional research community.

Press Contact - Sarah Gentleman: sarah.gentleman@rin.ac.uk / T: +44 (0) 20 7412 7124

About Research Libraries UK (RLUK)

RLUK (www.rluk.ac.uk) was founded in 1983 by the Universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester and Oxford. It currently comprises 29 University, National and other research libraries. Its mission is to increase the ability of research libraries to share resources for the benefit of the local, national and international research community. Its sponsored services include Copac, Archives Hub, SHERPA, UK Research Reserve, EThOSnet and 19th Century Pamphlets Online.

About the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL)

SCONUL (www.sconul.ac.uk) is a key strategic body that works with, and on behalf of, its members which include libraries in higher education institutions (universities and colleges); the British Library and the national libraries of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales; and libraries in national museums and other specialist institutions. SCONUL's vision is to provide focused leadership, enabling the sector to position itself at the forefront of international developments to support researchers, teachers and learners in tertiary education through the promotion of innovation and best practice.

About Curtis+Cartwright

Curtis+Cartwright (www.curtiscartwright.co.uk), a technology and management consultancy, helps public sector organisations make best use of current and emerging technologies. It was established in 1999 and prides itself on the repeat business from long-term clients. Curtis+Cartwright has worked in the education and research sector since 2005 on a variety of library-relevant projects, and has excellent experience of providing support and leadership to the public sector on innovation, foresight, strategy development and business change. Curtis+Cartwright work with a wide range of Associates and are conducting this project in collaboration with futures experts at SAMI Consulting, Sarah Thomas (Bodley's Librarian) and Richard Ovenden (Associate Director of the Bodleian Library).

For more information:

Evenings and weekends:
+44 (0) 20 7412 7150

Press Office contacts

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.