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It’s Not What Libraries Hold; It’s Who Libraries Serve

ITHAKA S+R – Seeking a User-Centered Future for Academic Libraries – “The mission of academic and research libraries is expanding, and our work is transforming. Collections alone are no longer sufficient to articulate our new value proposition and establish ROI to our institutions. Our academic and research libraries are doing more than just managing collection-centric resources, we are contributing to faculty productivities and student success. As we aim to support the goals of our colleges and universities and maintain mission relevance, including technological advancement, we must also understand and support the evolving needs and requirements of our users…In 2018, OhioLINK engaged its membership to envision a constellation of platforms and applications that would take the next step beyond “next-generation” commercial integrated library systems (ILS). This paper is the result of that process. The business of higher education, as it relates to libraries, is amid continued and drastic change. Managing collections is now but one aspect of library management. Libraries support teaching, affordable learning, and innovative research. They are managing services and products, online and off, amid expanding service offerings and technological advancements while under added pressure to reduce costs and barriers for people who want to learn—be it for a certificate, a two- or four-year degree, or a Ph.D.

The responsibilities of academic libraries have evolved, yet Integrated Library Systems (ILS) still narrowly focus on the acquisition, management, and delivery of objects while the end user remains in the background. It is OhioLINK’s belief it is imperative to shift that focus, moving from collections and holdings to those that use them. It’s not what libraries hold, but who libraries serve.

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