Harriet Green (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) authored an article in Parameters responding to Jim Neal’s (Columbia University) future of libraries piece in the same publication. Neal asks thought provoking questions:
Will the library in the eyes of the researcher mean innovation? Can the library advance new methods, new ideas, and new products and services? Can the library think differently about market, about value, and about solutions? Will the library change in composition and structure—that is, what we are and what we do? Will the library change in outward form or appearance—that is, how we are viewed and understood? Will the library change in character and condition—that is, how we support the work of the researcher? And more fundamentally, will the library survive, or suffer the fate of terminal extinction, with no descendants and no future, or achieve the goal of phyletic extinction, in which a species evolves into a new and stronger organism?
Green responds with a vision for how academic librarianship continues to evolve to meet the changing needs of researchers and faculty: “The traditional notions of what it means to be an academic librarian are shattering into a kaleidoscope of new, unimagined structures.”
Green’s piece is organized the two elements of Neal’s article that she found most intriguing: radical collaboration and deconstruction. These two concepts shape a new vision of academic librarianship, one that “enables librarians to integrate more fully into the research lifecycle, with in-depth collaborations that range from helping researchers to find sources of data to employing digital tools and curation of the data generated from digital scholarship research.”
Indeed, Green concludes that,
This “fearless” information professional is emerging in today’s library already, as the social sciences and disciplines across the spectrum demand untested and evolving support structures for research and teaching. By engaging in radical collaborations and pursuing new reconfigurations of library engagement and services, librarians can become even more embedded in the research workflow and engage researchers as partners.