by Karen Phillips (Senior Vice President of Global Learning Resources at SAGE Publishing)
SAGE Publishing is happy to sponsor this issue of Against the Grain to make it fully and immediately open access at this difficult time of transition.
In this issue, we focus on a growing area of importance for the academic library; we look at how technology is enabling the library to broaden and deepen its impact within the higher education (HE) institution by becoming more embedded into teaching, learning, and research.
For some time we have seen changes in the library’s priorities towards library systems and software. These changes can make the library more efficient in collections development and also broaden the library’s remit to engage more actively in supporting student success and supporting academic research through improved discovery, access and usage to the right resources at the right time. As they do this, they are getting materials to the researcher or student where they are rather than hoping patrons will find the right materials however time-consuming the process is. Indeed, as this issue of Against the Grain goes to press, we are facing the COVID-19 pandemic, necessitating enormous disruptions including many HEIs moving all teaching online. Library technologies and digital products will be supporting the sudden shift to virtual teaching and learning.
We start the issue with articles outlining the library changes in the context of a changing HE environment. First, Rebekah Shaw, Market Research Analyst at SAGE, outlines stages of digital transformation that the library has overseen and the changing roles and services that are developing in response. This is followed by Professor Shoham and Dr. Gabbary outlining their research into librarian and faculty understanding of the role of the library in providing access to materials for both teaching and research as well as services supporting discovery of research information. Jesse Stommel’s provocative article follows, questioning whether learning technology does support effective learning or rather constrains creativity and critical thinking and treats students as digital assets.
We then switch to two case studies. Martin Drewe from Quartex at Adam Matthew Digital uses the case studies of Baylor University and University of Toronto Mississauga to show how librarians have used technology solutions to support digital humanities scholarship, transforming the accessibility and engagement with unique and valuable collections. Antonio Alonso Espadas and Javier Martin Rodriguez draw on experience at the Universidad Europea de Madrid to show how data drawn from library systems can drive decision making in the library.
We include two interviews focused on the impact technology has in the library. First, Kathleen Folger from the University of Michigan Library explains how the library has provided services and tools to improve discovery and usage of relevant library resources. She also outlines how the library is building up a digital scholarship infrastructure to support researchers with techniques such as text mining and data visualization, as well as experimenting with and following new developments such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Finally, Colin Bates from Deakin University Library talks about how Deakin uses technology to support student learning with solutions that integrate library materials into the LMS and how they use social media to drive engagement and collaborative projects. He also points to innovation projects such as the Deakin Genie project, a digital assistant. We end on the positive note that libraries adapt well to change and new technological opportunities. So, it’s over to our readers to prove us right!