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Essential Transformations

The academic library is transforming. This diagram illustrates some of what I see as its most essential transformations.

Libraries are transforming in terms of their collections – towards electronic collections, towards shared collections, towards open access, and towards distinctive holdings. Complexities abound for discovery, access, processing, and preservation.

And libraries are also transforming beyond collections, towards a partnership with scholars and students in support of research, teaching, and learning workflows. This is the most important strategic shift.

To achieve this shift, the nature of the librarian role is transforming, beyond a selector or provider and towards an enabler and a partner. The changing nature of the professional role has implications for talent management, organizational structure, positional autonomy, and institutional positioning.

In my view, organizational transformation does not imply a complete transition away from the more traditional aspects on the left to the newer aspects on the right. The academic library’s transformation is best understood directionally and therefore strategically. And certainly, it will vary in important ways across institutional type, as we are exploring in partnership with OCLC Research.

This graphic collapses a great deal of complexity, but hopefully helps to illustrate some of the dynamics that our organizations face today.

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