Wednesday, December 09, 2009

UK Researchers: Can't You Hear Me Knocking

A new report this week from the UK Council on Graduate Education suggests researchers are facing increasing difficulties gaining access to research materials. The report concedes that researchers have better access to search and discovery that identifies appropriate materials but (as a group) they are frequently stymied when they try to gain access. (Link)
The report’s findings show that the impact of this lack of access on the efficiency, as well as the quality, of research across the higher education sector and beyond is very real. New technological developments, including moves towards open access publishing models and the availability of e-books may help to solve some of theses problems, but there is little evidence from the report to show that they have had a positive impact to date.
Many librarians, and researchers, fear that unless licensing and technical issues are resolved, moves towards a digital environment may impose new barriers, as researchers face restrictions on access to resources which would have formerly been accessible to them in print. With impending funding cuts in higher education institutions’ budgets next year, libraries are already facing increasingly difficult decisions about which subscriptions to keep as cancellations will only add to these problems for researchers. Our report shows that libraries need to ensure they can continue to provide access to content through a range of sources, including interlibrary loans and document supply services, and that they implement efficient, effective and user-friendly systems to ensure researchers can gain easy access.

An idea solution for researchers would be the implementation of a national library membership card to enable access and borrowing rights at all higher education institutions in the UK. However, our study finds that the infrastructure to provide this in higher education institutions is lacking.

1 comment:

Susan Ruszala said...

This isn't exactly the same, but I've heard this mentioned for public libraries, too--that patrons should be able to have a card that gives them access to all NJ libraries, for example, rather than their local one only. National online library?