A White Paper
Prepared by the Science Librarians
Research and scholarship are increasingly interdisciplinary, collaborative efforts. The Internet and new information and communication technologies are enhancing—and transforming—research and scholarship, enabling users scattered throughout the world to share facilities, instruments, immense collections of multimedia information, and tools for analysis and synthesis. These technology-mediated environments, often called collaboratories or knowledge networks, not only allow scholars and scientists to work together more effectively, across distance and discipline, but also offer whole new approaches to investigating and analyzing concepts and phenomena.
who runs the global library services at Hewlett-Packard, has adopted as a
guiding principle in the provision of library services: "Own nothing. Maintain nothing. Access
everything." While that approach might
work well in an industrial environment, in this white paper, it is assumed that
the sciences at IUB will
The science faculty and students to
be served, while largely
Units to be Served: Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Cyclotron, Education, Geography, Geology, HPER (Health, Physical Education, and Recreation), Informatics, Library and Information Science, Mathematics, Medical Sciences, Nursing, Optometry, Physics, Psychology, Speech and Hearing Science, and SPEA (School of Public and Environmental Affairs).
Buildings Where Primary Science Library Services Will Be Concentrated: Chemistry, Geology, HPER, Jordan Hall, Optometry, Swain Hall West.
Buildings Where Remote/Limited Access to Science Library Services Will Be Offered: Cyclotron, Education, Geography, Informatics, Lindley, Life Sciences, Main Library, Multidisciplinary Science Buildings, Myers, Optometry, Psychology, Rawles, SPEA, Speech and Hearing, Sycamore.
Library services in the future are likely to be judged most critically by our users on whether the information found is:
The science librarians must plan their services to best meet those criteria.
Competition for funding and space on the IUB campus is increasingly forcing the science librarians to justify the existence of the science libraries. This is occurring at a time when the marvels of the Web have caused some to question the need for libraries and even librarians. ACRL President Helen Spalding notes that “…in today’s complex information environment, we have a greater responsibility to communicate the resources and expertise our libraries and librarians provide, both on our campuses and in society.” She sees public relations and marketing as the key. In support of that view, Anthony Albanese, summarizing an ACRL report on the top seven academic library issues today, stresses that “Librarians must demonstrate to the campus community that the library remains central to academic effort.” In order to serve as an effective interface between users and services, librarians must understand science, know what the scientists are currently doing, and find out what services the scientists really need (research tools, databases, software, etc.).
IUB science libraries support the research and
teaching/learning activities of IU students, staff, and faculty, as well as those
II. Changes in Libraries and Librarians’ Tasks
Collaborative facilities integrate the services of information technologists, librarians, instructional technologists, multimedia producers, and many others to serve a wide range of faculty and student needs. The organization and functions of these facilities vary widely, but all include a distinct physical space, participation by at least two separate campus units, and staff members dedicated to collaborative work. Collaborative facilities include "information commons," which provide information and reference services and networked information resources to students and faculty. Some campus centers for teaching and learning that assist faculty in integrating new technologies into the curriculum are operated as collaborative facilities. Multimedia production and service facilities are another type of facility that some universities are developing as a joint project of more than one campus unit. (Collaborative Facilities; also, Lippincott)
[Librarians] should participate in building networks and
nurturing communities, and work to create situations where people can meet each
other. They should get to know who knows
what and share that knowledge with other people. (
A. New Roles
In the health sciences there is a growing appreciation for someone to interpret the scientific literature for the general public. This underscores the need for people to have accurate health-related information. Health professionals expect librarians to help perform this important role.
Librarians will increasingly be called on to identify and acquire digital and spatial data and to archive that data. Geographic Information System (GIS) software is not intuitive at this point in time, and spatial data are not well documented. Use of spatial data in libraries is at the level of mediated searching 20-30 years ago, with the librarian doing the work and the user looking on and providing feedback. New developments in bioinformatics and other areas of science informatics challenge science librarians to learn even more skills. Those avenues to scientific knowledge must be carefully integrated with portals to existing library services.
Customized knowledge management tools will be needed to take disciplinary information from internal and external sources and organize it by subject categories. Metadata will increasingly provide the mechanism to insure the pertinence of retrieved items. Whereas the Web of today often brings back a smorgasbord of retrieved items, many of which are irrelevant, efforts to create the Semantic Web will greatly enhance the accuracy of future searches. “The Semantic Web is an extension of the current Web in which the meaning of information is clearly and explicitly linked from the information itself, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation.” (Miller and Swick)
Lougee expands on that definition of the Semantic Web:
The Semantic Web brings together
metadata, a language to structure the data, and a road map (or ontology, as
known in the artificial intelligence community) that explains relationships
between terms. These ingredients for
Librarians must be prepared to utilize the new tools developed to facilitate the use of information. There is an increasing need for relevant data to be evaluated and plugged back into the early cycles of an experiment. Librarians must become familiar with the tools for data mining, whether involving bioinformatics or other modern techniques that draw heavily on statistics and information technology. Repackaging scientific data for its most effective use should be a major activity in the science libraries. “One of the profound changes in store for libraries is that parts of their collection will be active—software agents collecting, organizing, relating, and summarizing on behalf of their human authors.” (Wulf, p. 18)
Lines are blurring between corporate research and academic
research as more and more academic scientists are being funded through
industry. The scientists need to be made
aware of the use restrictions on databases and other resources that are put at
their disposal, but whose use is limited by the
B. Physical vs. Electronic Libraries
What do people do in libraries today? They:
Librarians today work in both an online virtual environment
and a physical environment that is housed in traditional library space. Electronic resources are having an impact on
the way people think about science libraries, given that many of the primary
scientific research journals now have their entire
In those institutions that have moved to a central science library or consolidated branch libraries into one unit since 1995, what has been the reaction of the users?
One respondent noted that when a library is closed, the researchers feel deprived since they have lost a library that was providing unique services tailored to their needs. However, he said that such reactions decrease with time as more and more resources become available online and the need to walk across campus to a library is not a regular occurrence. Others spoke of the better services offered to interdisciplinary researchers in a consolidated facility.
There are many examples of the merging of science libraries
in recent years, either planned or completed.
Does the physical space of a library have value in
itself? At the
of whether a science librarian is permanently stationed in a science library or
simply becomes a frequent or occasional visitor to a multidisciplinary science
building or other campus location where scientists work, there is a need for
space to interact with and to provide instruction to new users. Even in the traditional science libraries at
IUB, mini “information commons” areas are needed to bring together users and
librarians for collaboration and
While there was a general consensus a few years ago that
traffic in libraries was lessening, that trend has been reversed in recent
Crockett feels that “Perhaps the most important function of
the library within a university department is the function of intellectual
meeting place, a place where people go not only to search for information but
to talk about ideas and the meaning of information.” She maintains that branch libraries may not
need books at all, provided there is a storage facility, an excellent retrieval
service combined with interlibrary loan, and excellent electronic
resources. She sees a trend of having
roving librarians with offices in the departments served. For such a scenario to succeed, Crockett
points out the need for an individual with deep subject expertise to serve as
the librarian. Pradt also mentions the
practice of sending electronically equipped “field librarians” to work directly
with faculty and students in academic departments outside the library. Such an arrangement is in use at Virginia
Polytechnic Institute and
All electronic resources must have reliable and appropriate support. We should help users to identify electronic resources and to use them effectively. In interdisciplinary research, it is often appropriate to search across multiple sources. Yet users in a specific discipline are unlikely to know about tools outside their own discipline. Librarians must be prepared to assist them in appropriate information acquisition, management (organization), and use.
C. The Move to Electronic Publications and Digital Archives
The Collection Management Initiative is a
2002 Special Libraries Association
Institutional repositories to collect everything from preprint/e-print archives and working papers to electronic journals, course materials, and electronic theses and dissertations are very much in the news today. An electronic archive is a place to store, preserve, and easily access faculty and graduate student research, plus teaching and learning materials. What role should the libraries have in migrating information from old to new formats as future storage media are introduced?
III. Objectives and Proposed Actions
Two key objectives in designing future science library services at IUB are:
· Make maximum use of the science and technology databases and electronic journals currently available at IUB
access to needed materials and databases not found on the
· Hire librarians who can assist in the identification and delivery of needed information in new areas of focus: proteomics, materials science, quantitative biology, human biology, physical biochemistry and biophysics
an infrastructure to allow the science librarians to interact with researchers wherever
they are located via video
· Examine the existing space occupied by the science libraries and develop plans to utilize the space presently allocated to science libraries in the most effective way possible in the future.
Enhanced services/collections that might be offered in (or from) a science library or in/to the multidisciplinary science buildings include:
· Expert reference service and assistance with database searching
· Customized knowledge management tools (disciplinary information from internal and external sources that would be organized by subject categories)
· One-on-one or small group instruction
· Current awareness searches in interdisciplinary areas using services not commonly accessed at IUB
· Federated searching across appropriate databases
· Data format conversion and facility for using older formats (e.g., DOS and Windows 3.x)
· Expert advice on personal bibliography (citation manager) software (e.g., EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager)
· Advice on metadata use, XML, archiving of data, mounting of databases
· Directory services
· Assistance with essential plugins for browsers to take advantage of science materials (e.g., Chime, CN3D, Rasmol, Kinemage, Alternatiff) and assistance with printing
· Color copiers
· State-of-the-art equipment to receive images from ALF
· Secure places to receive items delivered from ALF
· Card access to the collections after hours
· Self-circulation of materials with secure identification
· 3M security gate plus a camera that takes an image when the gate is triggered
· Rapid delivery of patents and other non-traditional literature (e.g., reports, standards, dissertations)
· Basic collection of engineering-related materials and links, including standards
· Basic collection of reference materials that people in interdisciplinary areas would need
· Other basic reference materials for all of the disciplines served
· Circulating laptops for use with wireless networks
· Service point to handle reserve requests by instructors.
Whereas medical school reference
librarians routinely deal with questions requiring the use of biomolecular
sequence and structure searches, science librarians who work outside the
biomedical research areas typically have little or no call to do so. Another area that is critically important in
interdisciplinary research is statistical mapping. While our geology librarian has considerable
expertise in this area, she cannot serve all of the various needs of the entire
The IUB campus has invested heavily in an information technology infrastructure that is second to none among public universities. With our technology infrastructure, we have the capability to utilize videoconferencing and other collaborative techniques to converse and interact with colleagues halfway around the world. The time is right for the university to provide the means for librarians to interact with students and researchers wherever they may be located. We envision equipping each of the science libraries and common areas in the multidisciplinary science buildings with teleconferencing equipment to permit two-way communication with remote users. Furthermore, many scientists on this campus do not use computer systems based on Microsoft PC operating systems. Thus, they are effectively cut off from many of the relevant databases that could be of assistance in interdisciplinary research. The installation of a Citrix server would solve that problem, allowing Unix, Mac, and PC systems direct access to all of the rich resources of the IU Libraries.
…the idea that the web can be a replacement for a library ignores the most important characteristics of a library. A library is not merely a collection of books, or some vast warehouse of words, books, and journals; it is part of our cultural, historical and scientific memory. –Wil Weston
The difference between a “reading room” and a “library” is, of course, the librarian! --Jane Holmquist
Given the monumental changes that are occurring in scientific publishing and the enhanced capability for the libraries to store materials off campus, it is appropriate to examine library options for providing scholarly information services within the context of the multidisciplinary science buildings. We must consider optimal configurations for staffing and materials and evaluate how library services and user expectations will change over the next several years.
Robert Hulshoff has stated that "The most significant additional service that electronic library users have is the need for technical support." What technical functions will the Libraries support? If not supported by us, to whom can the patron turn? If it is not possible to meet with a librarian in the same room, then at least we should provide a video link with a librarian. That is much more desirable than an impersonal, though perhaps accurate FAQ or help file at a Web site. We need a significant marketing effort to communicate library services to the people who could use them.
John Seely Brown, Chief Scientist of Xerox Coroporatin, speaking on learning in the digital age, states, "We are witnessing a profound blurring of the classical boundaries separating teaching, learning, research, administration, communication, media, and play, all brought about by new technologies.” (Brown, p. 80) Specialized libraries are moving away from the role of repository of print materials and more toward being a facilitator of the research process. Electronic reference sources are becoming more and more accessible at the desktop, so there is less and less need to visit a library, even a central science library, for the most important scientific abstracting and indexing tools and journals. The science information area will become increasingly complex in both the resources and management over the next decade, and there will be more need for people to help both faculty and students make the appropriate choices to satisfy their information needs. With the use of appropriate technology such as Microsoft's NetMeeting and videoconferencing equipment and techniques, the impact of not having a librarian or other library staff in a building where library services are needed can be minimized. However, it will always be necessary to also allow for close, face-to-face contact with library users in order to insure that their needs are being met. Librarians and other library staff must define for themselves an active role in the research process, a role wherein they participate as a partner in the scientific inquiry process.
Albanese, Andrew Richard.
“The top seven academic library issues.”
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(ARL Bimonthly Report; 225)
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Repositories: A Workshop on Creating an Infrastructure
for Faculty-Library Partnerships. Co-sponsored by ARL, SPARC, and
Johns Hopkins University Welch Medical Library Architectural Study (look at the "Summary Version" link at the bottom that leads to the Executive Summary of the Master Plan)
Will the Sciences Need Libraries?
(PowerPoint from the