Session 7

Session 7: Future-proofing Libraries: fostering, valuing, and managing institutions

Thursday 6th July – 9.45-11:15

Chair: Adam Sofronijević, University library ”Svetozar Markovic”, Serbia

7.1: Open educational resources: developing strategies and fostering a community of practice in a research-led teaching institution

Presenter: Helen Moore, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

In November 2019, UNESCO adopted the recommendation on open educational resources, identifying five areas of action and calling on governments and organisations to progress these in order to encourage the use and creation of OER. The areas of action are:

  • Capacity building
  • Developing supportive policy
  • Effective, inclusive and equitable access to quality OER
  • Nurturing the creation of sustainability models for OER
  • Fostering and facilitating international cooperation.

The UNESCO Recommendation is the first international normative instrument to embrace the field of openly licensed educational materials and technologies in education. It supports the development and sharing of openly licensed learning and teaching materials, benefiting students, teachers and researchers worldwide. It contributes to the building of open and inclusive knowledge societies, and to the achievement of the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG4 to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Over the last 2 years, the University of Sheffield has made substantial progress in implementing the UNESCO recommendation into their library service. As the sector emerged from the trauma of the pandemic, the authors and their library colleagues at the University of Sheffield embarked upon a programme of work, including a collaborative research project with White Rose Libraries partners at Leeds and York. Drivers for this work included a growing interest in all things ‘open’ and challenging the e-book practices of commercial publishers.

This paper outlines the steps taken at the University of Sheffield to move each of the UNESCO areas of action forward. It demonstrates the agility required in today’s research library to respond to a rapidly changing publishing environment, aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and UNESCO’s call to action. Hear how we are fostering partnerships at local, regional and international levels to broaden the conversation from open research to open scholarship.

Attendees of this presentation will find out more about the work behind the Sheffield approach and the research that underpins it. The authors will explore what worked well and what didn’t as well as share the ‘lessons learnt’. Anyone who has an interest in Open Educational Resources, their application in a modern research-led teaching environment or just looking for a way to address the increasingly exorbitant prices charged by publishers for e-textbooks will find this presentation useful.

7.2: Moving Beyond Strategy: University Library Organisational Culture in an Open Science Environment

Presenter: Gyöngyi Karácsony, University and National Library, University of Debrecen, Hungary

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” This statement by the management guru Peter Drucker has inspired management research to focus on organisational culture (OC) as a key factor in the success of the strategy, and the long-term sustainability, changeability and innovation potential of organisations. Organisational culture is a complex system of beliefs, assumptions and values shared by the members of the organisation. Although mostly unaware, colleagues accept these as a way of thinking and doing things at the workplace. OC is a unique perspective that can be traced in the behaviour of the members, in the services, in the spaces, as well as in the communication of the organisation.

The 21. century has brought another significant concept to leadership and management: our ever-changing, turbulent environment has been labelled with the acronym VUCA. The volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) of the world around us are changing the way we think about the strategy and management of organisations. We are thinking of shorter strategic periods. We are revising our strategies and plans more frequently, adapting to the new developments in our life. We are all eyes and ears to be able to trace, identify and select all the important trends and events that we need to react to. Still, leaders often struggle with the feeling that they cannot cope with everything that is coming with the changes. We sometimes – or often – feel lonely and puzzled.

University and academic libraries are traditionally seen as institutions that reflect stability and consistency: a set of services with eternal values that support research and the education of future generations. However, Open science (and the VUCA environment itself) has given way to a tremendous amount of new impacts, needs and requirements, where a new quality of leadership and management is needed in order to have a clear understanding of our vision and mission as well as of the role and strategy of academic libraries in the new millennium.

The proposed presentation offers a fresh perspective: the author invites the audience to the intersection of organisational culture studies and university library strategy in an open science environment.

Based on the Competing Values Framework model by Cameron-Quinn and the author’s research in this area, they would like to direct participants’ focus on the importance of understanding the underlying (and often hidden) values that determine the performance of our organisations.

The author’s aim is to tell the story of her leadership team on how they define the role of our library in the new research ecosystem, become aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the current organisational culture, and adapt to the environment with a growth mindset.

7.3: Re-evaluating library’s value post-COVID-19

Presenter: Liisi Lembinen, University of Tartu, Estonia

The COVID-19 crisis brought out more than ever the question about the value of academic libraries. The library relevance discussion has been going on for years already; however, it became even more urgent during the crisis. The Ithaka S+R US Library Survey 2019 showed that the primary concern for academic libraries’ directors was the decreasing value of the library and its functions in the eyes of the university and higher education leaders (Frederick & Wolff-Eisenberg, 2020a). Similar worries were also shown by the leaders of LIBER libraries who responded to the COVID-19 survey; 25,25% of the respondents showed concern about redefining the library’s role within the university (LIBER, 2020).

More recent surveys show a different trend; the value of academic libraries is potentially increasing again. The crisis gave an excellent chance for academic libraries to demonstrate their value to the university by adapting their services based on the needs of the university. “This pandemic provided an opportunity for libraries to invest in and improve the library’s value.” (Ashiq et al., 2022, p. 8). Library directors feel that libraries have shown their value during the crisis through their readiness to offer virtual support services for the university staff and students. 86% of the directors of the Ithaka S+R survey said that they stress establishing library service as a valuable and vital service for the university (Frederick & Wolff-Eisenberg, 2020b).

The author has been looking into various qualitative and quantitative studies from Europe and U.S. done in the past three years, mainly focusing on academic libraries’ decisions and challenges during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, a series of interviews with LIBER library directors show how library leaders decide during the crisis. Among other changes that COVID-19 brought to libraries, these studies also demonstrate the importance of academic libraries within the university, especially during the crisis. By using a mixed methods approach, this presentation presents the specific change in libraries’ value that the crisis presented and how libraries responded.

53rd LIBER Annual Conference