Developing Business Cases for New Services in Research Libraries


1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Scholarly communication is in a time of disruptive transition. New models in publishing and new federal mandates on research data management and sharing offer big opportunities and big risks to higher education and research institutions, touching the very core of how research is conducted and reported. Both issues resonate with the core values and skills that are foundational in research libraries: to gather, preserve, and provide access to research and scholarship for its further advancement. As entities that organize, retain, and make information accessible, libraries can bring structure to data management issues and activities. And as large-scale customers of publishing who connect readers to publishing products, libraries have valuable insights on access, institutional and disciplinary repositories, and dissemination.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 While there are clear points of intersection between current core services in research libraries and structures needed to manage research data and promote new models of scholarly publishing, libraries must understand the scale and commitment that come with these new service areas. Often libraries, feeling an imperative to meet emerging needs, may act with limited knowledge of the longer-term costs of developing and sustaining potential new services that appear to meet those needs. It is essential that disciplined, structured approaches for service development in the areas of scholarly communication be developed. Both data management and publishing require new skill sets that may not be well represented within current library staff. Both are focused on global dissemination, while libraries traditionally have focused on local needs. Both require long-term commitment and the flexibility and structure to make future transitions as the external landscape changes. Both will require reallocation of funds, of positions, and of organizational focus. And while data management and curation and library publishing are both pieces of the scholarly communication continuum, they pose individual challenges. How libraries respond to these challenges will play a large role in enabling the transformation of scholarly communication in the twenty-first century, as well as defining the future of research libraries themselves.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 This article presents a structured, disciplined approach for making decisions about creating and maintaining new scholarly communication programs in research libraries. This approach will provide research libraries with tools with which to determine whether and how to create a new service. Broadly conceived, it enables libraries to determine their and their parent institutions’ readiness for new services and service models, to better position the library for success. It provides a model of service or business case development, to support informed decision making and service building. It also provides a model for the service planning cycle, to promote sustainability over time. The approach is simultaneously abstract and concrete, as it must offer help in a way that is both practical and portable.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 The goal of this article is to position libraries to act successfully in the twenty-first-century higher educational environment. In an era of increased institutional accountability, formal assessment, and budgetary constraints, libraries should be prepared to respond to an extensive list of questions before building solutions to the complex problems of scholarly communication. Institutional stakeholders will want to know how a service aligns with their broader priorities and why it should be given institutional support. Even more important, the current moment offers opportunities for real transformation. Libraries must consider carefully their ability to create scalable solutions that can make a transformative impact. Most often, real scalability and its resulting impact will require collaboration across multiple institutions. Clearly, planning in this context is more complex and must be rigorous. The long-term benefits should outweigh the costs.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 The structure and recommendations presented in this article draw heavily from models used by the nonprofit and business worlds. While research libraries generally are not interested in (and in some cases are inimical to) questions of profitability, they certainly are concerned about success and sustainability. Nonprofit and business thinking is oriented toward the creation of successful services and products: whether success is defined as more people served or more profit accumulated, services and products that make no impact and cannot be sustained will not meet organizational goals for success. Library leaders are well advised to adapt tools that promote such disciplined decision making. As Jim Collins writes, “A culture of discipline is not a principle of business; it is a principle of greatness” (Collins 2005).

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Source: http://mcpress.media-commons.org/businesscases/introduction/