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Developing a Library Research Platform for 21st Century Scholars

The direct intersection between university libraries and academic research has significantly diminished in the past two decades. For continued relevance on campus academic libraries need to develop a new approach to working within the research endeavour.

Academic Research and University Libraries

The direct intersection between university libraries and academic research has significantly diminished in the past two decades. This change has been accelerated by networked access to information and by the greater diversity of research sources and methods. New relationships have begun to evolve based on shared interest in new technologies and research techniques. For continued relevance in research efforts academic libraries need to develop a platform for supporting research, enhancing campus-wide partnerships, and a repositioning of libraries within the research endeavour.

To develop a new model for working with campus scholars academic libraries should explore:

  1. Developing a platform of services through services, technical infrastructure, and expertise;
  2. Enhancing campus-wide partnerships; and
  3. Repositioning the library within the research endeavour.

Efforts in developing this model have begun with two projects sponsored by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

In the fall of 2015, the University of Calgary conducted a planning study funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Multidisciplinary Research Infrastructure: The Role of 21st Century Libraries. The purpose of this study was to discern the evolving needs of scholars conducting research that spans multiple disciplines. Thematic areas chosen for the study were Arctic Studies, Smart Cities, and Visual Analytics. The findings of this study describe the needs of scholars from fifteen different disciplines and demonstrate significant commonalities across their research fields.

The research project Academic Research and University Libraries: A New Model for Collaboration, initiated in 2017, aims to establish a research platform within the University of Calgary's Libraries and Cultural Resources.  Beyond providing equipment to augment the library's technical infrastructure, this project also established two round of subgrants for local multidisciplinary teams to engage in short-term projects in partnership with the library.  These projects have been competitively selected with the aim of driving the library to support research in previously unexplored ways in addition to current services and expertise.