JISC Collections report examines value of library resources for academics

    JISC Collections has published a report on ‘UK Scholarly Reading and the Value of Library Resources’ based on research carried out by Professor Carol Tenopir from the Center for Information and Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee.

    The report examines how valuable scholarly reading has become for academics, especially in terms of access to journal articles. It surveyed academic and associate staff at 6 UK Higher Education institutions in 2011.

    From the academics’ perspective, the University Library remains the first choice for access to scholarly material because it provides a wide range of high quality articles in a timely and cost-effective manner. In this respect, the University Library can rightly stake its claim to having an integral role in the academic research process, not just a supporting one.

    The report includes comments from academics about how they are engaging with library-provided resources and why it is so important that access is maintained. Typical outcomes from these scholarly readings include inspiring new thinking and improving research results.

    The research also examined what academics would do if Library resources were not available. The findings suggest that without the library, academics and their departments would not find articles of such quality, that they would find fewer related articles, and that it would be a significantly more costly and time-consuming process.

    An examination of searching and browsing habits also shows the value of Library-provided search tools in saving academic time in finding quality material more rapidly.

    The report is also encouraging for JISC Collections which is responsible for negotiating journal and database deals for the community as a whole, including the NESLi2, SHEDL and WHEEL consortia. The findings provide further evidence of the value derived from journals included in ‘bundled deals’, both in terms of current journal articles and archival collections.

    Lorraine Estelle, CEO of JISC Collections said: “This report provides further evidence about the value and impact of the resources and discovery systems which UK academic libraries make available. This makes it even more important for JISC Collections to continue to work with publishers and libraries to secure affordable and sustainable journal deals for the future.

    Dr Hazel Woodward, Chair of the Electronic Information Resources Working Group and Librarian at Cranfield University said: “At this time of economic constraint, it is important for policy makers and Library directors to provide additional evidence of the value of library-provided resources. Whilst in the past these resources have been regarded as implicitly valuable, this research goes some way to making that value more explicit by focusing on specific benefits and outcomes for academics.

    Although the survey focuses on academics, it is worth noting that the article readings are also used to support teaching, so staff and students alike are benefiting from access to these resources.

    The research is part of a wider international Lib-Value project being coordinated by the Center for Information and Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee.