Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Designing a Research Library of the Future for New York University

New York University has just released a report, 21st Century Library Project: Designing a Research Library of the Future for New York University -- Report of a Study of Faculty and Graduate Student Needs for Research and Teaching. The report is the result of "a study to determine how the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library could improve its physical spaces and services to best address the current needs of scholars, as well as to create an environment that could be adapted to the needs of the future of scholarly research." It's a fascinating document that should be of interest to librarians, faculty, and students in institutions other than NYU. It also makes cogent observations about many aspects of the research production and dissemination process. From the report:
When it comes to disseminating the results of research, scholars can feel frustrated by aspects of academic publishing – long lead times between submission and publication, limited venues, high subscription fees, and copyright regulations – compelling scholars to pursue, or at least wish for, alternative forms of dissemination (pre-print services, online journals, new standards for peer review, and more). A professor in the social sciences says, “Publishing in my discipline is very slow – it has taken about eight years for me to get a paper published, starting from the day I began writing. I have started using online tools to post articles and find other colleague’s articles…I use to get feedback on early versions of my papers.” A scientist comments, “I feel long-term resentment toward publishers – academics are the most lucrative arm of publishing. Physicists are…starting to establish new, free, online journals.” A graduate student in the sciences says, “An open publishing process, where papers are successful or not based on voluntary peer feedback, would better support my needs.” Even administrators weigh in: “It’s much easier to create new online journals given the dependence of scholars on the Internet. All you need to do is convince your community to serve as peer reviewers.”

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