Libraries Continue to Redefine Themselves for the Digital Age
New research shows that as budgets bounce back, investment goes to "e" not print
According to new ProQuest-sponsored research conducted by Information Today, the library is going digital at an accelerating pace. In the wake of the downturn of 2009–2010, library budgets seem to have bounced back or are holding steady. However, any new revenues coming in are not going to revive print collections. The emphasis is now overwhelmingly digital, as libraries scramble to meet an ever-increasing demand for digital and online content.
The results of this new research have been segmented into three comparative spending reports by library type: The Academic Libraries Edition; The Public Libraries Edition; and the Special Libraries Edition. The reports are designed to provide deep insight into library budget trends and to help libraries benchmark their spending against their peer group. These three reports are all available now for just $159 each as a PDF download.
Key findings from Libraries: At the Epicenter of the Digital Disruption, Academic Libraries Edition include:
- Overall, academic library budgets have perked up after several years of a lackluster economy. Budget growth overall has been lukewarm. Two-fifths of academic library budgets go to digital resources, a level reached about a year ago.
- Three-fourths of academic libraries continue to see rising demand for electronic resources, while demand for print withers. Seven out of 10 academic libraries say they are seeing demand for ebooks. Discovery services lead the way in purchasing intentions.
- Increasing the availability of and access to digital resources for students and faculty continues to be academic libraries' top priority, as they redefine their roles as digital knowledge centers. However, these goals continue to clash with tight budgets, which makes selecting and maintaining platforms and skills an ongoing challenge.
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Key findings from Libraries: At the Epicenter of the Digital Disruption, Public Libraries Edition include:
- Public library budgets are on the upswing, having perked up significantly after several years of an uncertain economy. Library managers are optimistic for the year ahead as well. The bulk of library budgets go to personnel and staffing. In terms of content acquisition, the lion's share still goes to printed material. While a small share is going to digital resources, this share has doubled over the past two years.
- While three-fourths of public libraries are seeing rising demand for electronic resources, demand for print is also resilient. Nine out of 10 respondents say they are seeing demand for ebooks, and ebook readers lead the way in purchasing intentions. There is also rising demand for libraries to function as technical training resource centers. One-fourth of public libraries now use cloud-computing services.
- Increasing the level of customer service continues to be public libraries' top priority, and a majority of respondents are now concentrating on providing ways for patrons to make use of the technology coming into the library space. However, these goals continue to clash with tight budgets, which makes selecting and maintaining platforms and skills an ongoing challenge.
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Key Findings from Libraries: At the Epicenter of the Digital Disruption, Special and Government Agency Edition include:
- A majority of content and material being acquired by special libraries is now in digital format, the survey finds. Fifty-two cents of every budget dollar goes to either online databases and digital content collections or ebooks — now surpassing the amount of money spent on print materials.
- There's a clear shift from print to digital resources taking place among both special and government libraries. Among special libraries, adoption of or plans for cloud computing services have tripled since the first survey of this series was published in early 2011. In addition, close to 50% of government libraries are now moving to cloud, a reflection of the government's pro-cloud policies.
- Implementing digital library resources isn't just a technical — project the new services need to be sold to library users. Both special and government libraries have one clear priority this year: to concentrate on helping constituents take full advantage of the online and digital resources now becoming available. Most special and government agency libraries, however, do not have a formal, long-term vision of where they want to go.
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