As Neil Gaiman puts it, “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers; a librarian can bring you back the right one.” Cutting through that sea of information, it does take a trained and skilled professional to find what you are looking for. Librarians are essential information professionals with expertise in knowledge management, information research and retrieval, and presentation. They make relevant information accessible to us, unlocking a world of possibilities. As such, every 13th of April is designated as International Special Librarians Day to honor their contributions and dedication to their work.
International Special Librarians Day was first observed in the 1990s due to the Special Libraries Association’s (SLA) initiatives. The SLA is an international professional association that represents the needs of information specialists across a range of industries. By recognizing their contributions and achievements, this day encourages special librarians to continue their work and inspires others to pursue this rewarding and essential career path.
Librarians’ Impacting Student Success
“Librarians are tour-guides for all of knowledge.”Patrick Ness
The one place where a library is most frequented is in schools. School libraries are educational centers that provide students with academic resources, working spaces, and the opportunity for self-development. They also encourage thinking processes, creativity, and curiosity when designed and run with purpose.
Academic libraries have been found to have a positive effect on student success. Students use them primarily for individual-focused learning, and some libraries, like the one at George Washington University, support students with classes on basic research skills that teach them how to sort relevant and irrelevant information. More importantly, it helps them practice critical thinking skills to make sound choices.
One of the American Library Association’s top honor winners and a lead instructor for the university’s research class, David Ettinger profoundly believes in the importance of information and critical thinking. He finds the greatest privilege in helping students feel knowledgeable and comfortable in the library – “I want students to feel comfortable here. I love doing research, and I love helping people do research.”
With space for individual-focused learning, support from dedicated librarians, and the development of the lifelong ability of effective research, some studies suggest that library research consultations improve student learning, GPAs, engagement, and retention among students.
Possibilities For Librarians
With the rapid progress of the world today, libraries have the opportunity to adapt and transform into something more. Instead of remaining as a non-profit sector, the authors of a study explored the concept of an entrepreneurial library in the context of a Caribbean university library. Harris suggests that such a library can play a role in the economic development of the Caribbean by offering innovative services and research and development. (2022)
Transformations like these open a whole new range of professional possibilities for librarians. In an entrepreneurial library, librarians will play a key role in facilitating collaboration between key stakeholders ( students, faculty, and partners) while contributing to strategic planning with insights on emerging trends, identifying gaps, and developing strategies to address them. Professional development, such as participation in workshops, training, and conferences, can help librarians stay abreast of trends.
A culture of innovation and risk-taking is necessary for an entrepreneurial library, where librarians are encouraged to try new concepts and strategies. This can allow librarians to gain new knowledge and abilities while improving the library’s performance.
The Evolving Library-Publisher Relationship
The digital era led libraries to relook at what they could do with their print collections to serve their communities; after all, they need to ensure that their users have access to new and updated information to aid their research and teaching. This need has led to innovations like the HathiTrust, institutional and disciplinary repositories, and digitized special collections. Libraries also look at collaborating with publishers to grow and disseminate content.
Scholars, publishers, and libraries play essential roles in the research environment. Over the past ten years, there has been a substantial shift in the relationship between research and university libraries, with libraries and publishers working more closely than ever. Due to changing university institutions and new library publication initiatives, there are now more opportunities for both official and informal exchanges of knowledge, concerns, and ideas between libraries and publishers to flourish. Additionally, by working together, libraries and publishers can more effectively address shared threats and challenges. Ultimately, libraries and publishers share common goals of research integrity, accessibility, and diversity in publishing for the benefit of present and future generations of students.
To facilitate collaboration and understanding between libraries and publishers, meaningful conversations and dialogues must continue to increase mutual understanding. Together, libraries and publishers can advocate for their shared values and participate in projects to expand infrastructure, capacity, and, most importantly, respect and trust between parties.
“In the nonstop tsunami of global information, librarians provide us with floaties and teach us to swim.”Linton Weeks
At Sage, we recognize the librarians’ pivotal role in curating, managing, and providing access to content while supporting universities’ research and teaching activities. And as a collaborative partner, we strive to meet the evolving needs of universities as we continue to advance our shared goal of disseminating quality content, making it accessible to students and faculty alike.
Especially for library professionals, here is a curated collection of library and information science research that will support you as you improve the library across the institutions and build your leadership skills.
Harris, S. Y. (2022). Building an entrepreneurial Caribbean university library: practice, possibilities, and lessons. Alexandria: The Journal of National and International Library and Information Issues, 095574902211030. https://doi.org/10.1177/09557490221103034