The Value of Academic Libraries in the 21st Century Ann J. Wolpert

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Transcript The Value of Academic Libraries in the 21st Century Ann J. Wolpert

The Value of Academic Libraries in the
21st Century
Ann J. Wolpert
Director of Libraries
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
8th Annual Conference of the
Croatian University and Scientific
October 24-25th, 2008
Zagreb, Croatia
Research libraries will continue to
have value in the 21st century
But it is necessary to reinterpret the value
proposition of libraries for the digital age:
In education
In research
To the nation
To the world
Because of
– new media
– new ways of advancing knowledge
The “good old days” were not so
much fun at the time.
• Librarian was selected from among the
faculty and raised money for collections
• Lost books were deducted from the
librarian’s pay
• Books were chained to tables
• Women were kept in back rooms so as not
to distract the scholars
Traditional library collections are not
as “sacred” as some assert.
For example:
– Tangible assets have evolved through many
– Fires, wars, lack of money, change of focus, the
collapse of institutions, have punched holes in
– There is never enough money to provide
adequate preservation support
Research libraries persist because of
their total value proposition.
•Work and study spaces
•Preservation and
•Institutional identity
•Habits of mind
•Standards of scholarship
•History of disciplines
and individuals
•Cost effectiveness
•Comparative advantage
•Neutral and
Science, Technology, Engineering,
and Medicine are defining the future.
STEM is:
Science, Technology, Engineering, and
Medicine differ from the Humanities
• Deep rich historical collections are
important but timeliness is more critical
• Funding often available for lab based, nearterm information/data management
• Early adopters of mobile delivery systems
• Early recognition of shared data and data
All researchers and educators are
discovering new communication options
• Unleashed from the expense and scarcity of
• Discovering scholarship in new media
• Exploring the power of html
• National and international data archives
• Open source software
• Institutional repositories
The next generation of scholars and
researchers are changing the model
Developing countries
Emerging disciplines
Ambitious sub-disciplines
Disgruntled editorial boards
“Intellectual disobedience” regarding
• Harvard Univ’s rights retention strategy
The time has come to engage faculty
in redefining research libraries
Open access and retained rights
Delivery to the desktop
Place as Library
Data conservation
Evidence-based service design
Data & non-text information resources
Institutional repositories
What will the next value be for
your institution’s library?
Libraries at MIT and of MIT
The mission of MIT is to advance
knowledge and educate students in
science, technology, and other
areas of scholarship that will best
serve the nation and the world in
the 21st century.
The Institute is committed to
generating, disseminating, and
preserving knowledge, and to
working with others to bring this
knowledge to bear on the world’s
great challenges…
The mission of the MIT libraries is
to create and sustain an intuitive,
trusted information environment
that enables learning and the
advancement of knowledge at
We are committed to developing
strategies and systems that
promote discovery and facilitate
worldwide scholarly
Opportunities and challenges abound for
International, inter-institutional,
interdisciplinary are incompatible with
structure and funding
Network access control is often incompatible
with license agreements
New business choices (e.g., physics) to be
Competition for talent – especially technical
talent – is intense
The Lady or the Tiger?
•Google (or another) controls
•Publishers win complete
control of content
•Data mining allowed only
with permission
•Publishers control data as
well as research publication
•Books cease to exist as we
now know them
•Google does no evil,
digitized work is free
•Fair use is preserved by
congress and the courts
•Universities and faculty
retain necessary rights
•Research data and results
are open
•Books find a sustainable,
compatible business model
The next five years
Engage a new discussion with administrators and
Pursue digital library developments/opportunities –
especially open source and open access
Collaborate with others to improve leverage
Expand data curation and digital preservation
activities including research
Advocate for sensible information policy
“The future is like heaven everyone exalts it but no one
wants to go there now.”
James Baldwin