1. Gould, Kathleen Ahern RN, PhD

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The library scene is changing. Many community libraries support digital collections and connect users through I-phones and apps. Buildings often take on a more social function and serve as meeting space or offer quiet solitude for work-at-home professionals. Students reserve rooms for group work or tutoring sessions. Recently, many hospitals are shuttering traditional libraries but still offer support services and digital knowledge links rich with resources.


University settings appear to retain the best of what constitutes a library-a quite study area, rich with hard copy and digital materials and, of course, resourceful professional staff members. Perspective students view the building and interior setting as part of the campus visit, unaware of the rich knowledge and resources that lie within.


However, how we access information and resources have changed in our digital world. To help understand this trajectory, Ithaka S + R, a strategic consulting and research service studies theses issues. ITHAKA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping the academic community use digital technologies to preserve the scholarly record and to advance research and teaching in sustainable ways.1 This group studies practices and perceptions about how scholarly work is communicated and used. This work provides insights about the transformation of scholarship and teaching in an online environment.


The Ithaka S + R US Faculty Surveys have tracked the changing research, teaching, and information use practices of faculty members regularly since 2000-when digital transformation was in its early stages.2 The findings inform us about academic libraries and scholarly publishing and make us think about changes in the professional information acquisition, education, research, and teaching more broadly.


To do this, researchers survey a random sample of US higher education faculty members, recently adding medical scholars to the sample to provide even more comprehensive assessment. A recent report included medical faculty members in the 2015 cycle shows that 'respondents sometimes have attitudes and practices that parallel their colleagues in the social sciences and physical sciences, but often are unique in the way that they discover and access information, conduct and disseminate research, teach, and use the library. Of note, medical respondents are the most likely to agree strongly that the role librarians play at their own institution is becoming much less important (37%)."


Findings can be analyzed by discipline, institution type, and other demographic characteristics. The most recent edition, representing data collected last fall, includes responses from 9203 faculty members representing all arts and sciences and most professional fields at 4-year colleges and universities in the United States.2 The study explores faculty members' views on scholarly communication, the use of information, and the state of academic libraries and their concerns about students' research skills.


A consistent area of interest in the Faculty Survey is to understand how the role of the library has evolved over time. This is something I think about often. I am grateful for the space, resources, and talented professional library staff who are always ready to help.


The recent survey challenges us to discuss these issues, embrace our current resources, and reinforces a commitment to informing our practice in the future.


The key findings from the 2015 Faculty Survey3 can be found at




1. Long M, Schonfeld R. Ithaka S + R US Library Survey 2013. Ithaka S + R. March 11, 2014. Accessed April 10, 2016. [Context Link]


2. Straumsheim C. A larger role for libraries. Inside Higher Ed. April 4, 2016. Accessed April 10, 2016. [Context Link]


3. Wolff C, Rod AB, Schonfeld RC. Ithaka S + R US Faculty Survey 2015. New York: Ithaka S + R; April 4, 2016. Accessed April 10, 2016. [Context Link]