The NMC, the University of Applied Sciences (HTW) Chur, the German National Library of Science and Technology (TIB), Hannover, and ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, are jointly releasing the NMC Horizon Report > 2015 Library Edition during a special online event. This is the second edition of the NMC Horizon Report that explores the realm of academic and research libraries in a global context.

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Six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in educational technology are identified across three adoption horizons over the next one to five years, giving library leaders and staff a valuable guide for strategic planning. The format of the report was designed to provide these leaders with more in-depth insight into how the trends and challenges are accelerating and impeding the adoption of technology, along with their implications for policy, leadership, and practice.

“Nowhere on university campuses has technology had a more sweeping impact than on their libraries,” says Larry Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of the NMC and co-principal investigator for the project. “It is critically important for the field that the unique needs and perspectives of those who work in academic and research libraries are at the center of this second annual report.”

2015-library-report-cover_border(1)Trends Accelerating Technology Adoption for Academic and Research Libraries
The NMC Horizon Report > 2015 Library Edition identifies “Increasing Value of the User Experience” and “Prioritization of Mobile Content and Delivery” as short-term impact trends driving changes in academic and research libraries over the next one to two years. The “Evolving Nature of the Scholarly Record” and “Increasing Focus on Research Data Management” are mid-term impact trends expected to accelerate technology use in the next three to five years; and “Increasing Accessibility of Research Content” and “Rethinking Library Spaces” are long-term impact trends, anticipated to impact libraries for the next five years or more.

“The trends identified by the expert panel indicate that libraries are doing a better job of making their content more accessible and adapting library spaces to meet the needs of the contemporary, connected academic community,” says Rudolf Mumenthaler, Professor of Library Science at HTW Chur and co-principal investigator of the report. “The outcomes of the report are very compelling, and it is an honor for HTW Chur to be deeply involved in this project.”

Challenges Impeding Technology Adoption In Academic and Research Libraries
A number of challenges are acknowledged for presenting barriers to the mainstream use of technology in academic and research libraries. “Embedding Academic and Research Libraries in the Curriculum” and “Improving Digital Literacy” are perceived as solvable challenges — those which we both understand and know how to solve. “Competition from Alternative Avenues of Discovery” and “Rethinking the Roles and Skills of Librarians” are considered difficult challenges, which are defined as well understood but with solutions that are elusive. Described as wicked challenges are “Embracing the Need for Radical Change” and “Managing Knowledge Obsolescence,” which are complex to define, much less address.

“Do we still need libraries? Wrong question! The release of this report brings us many examples of the lively adoption of new technologies in libraries around the globe,” shares Andreas Kirstein, Vice Director and Head of Media and IT Services at ETH-Bibliothek and co-principal investigator of the project. “These forward-looking approaches are the answer to the better question: What kind of libraries do we need in the future?”

Important Developments in Technology for Academic and Research Libraries
Additionally, the report identifies “Makerspaces” and “Online Learning” as technologies and digital strategies that are expected to enter mainstream use in the first horizon of one year or less. “Information Visualization” along with “Semantic Web and Linked Data” are seen in the second horizon of two to three years; “Location Intelligence” as well as “Machine Learning” are seen emerging in the third horizon of four to five years.

2015 Library Report Topics

“This report is another crucial step forward for academic and research libraries, which are now being seen as incubators for experimenting with emerging technologies and are even leading the way at many university campuses across the world,” says Lambert Heller, Head of Open Science Lab at the German National Library of Science and Technology (TIB) and co-principal investigator of the project.

The subject matter in this report was identified through a qualitative research process designed and conducted by the NMC that engages an international body of experts in libraries, education, technology, research, business, and other fields around a set of research questions designed to surface significant trends and challenges and to identify emerging technologies with a strong likelihood of adoption in academic and research libraries. The NMC Horizon Report > 2015 Library Edition details the areas in which these experts were in strong agreement.

“This report has highlighted key themes and technological trends that are shaping the evolution of academic and research libraries,” says Franziska Regner, Head of Innovation and Development at ETH-Bibliothek and co-principal investigator of the report. “This has been an exciting project to be a part of, and I look forward to seeing how library leaders and staff in innovation units use these findings to inform their strategies and methodological approaches for the long-term.”

The NMC Horizon Report > 2015 Library Edition is available online, free of charge, and is released under a Creative Commons license to facilitate its widespread use, easy duplication, and broad distribution.

> Download the Report (PDF)

About The Author

Victoria Estrada has been contributing her writing, research, and editing skills to the NMC Horizon Project since 2012. Before that, she was learning from stellar English language instructors at La Universidad Nacional in Costa Rica, where she worked for a year with a Fulbright grant. Victoria has a Certificate in Non-profit Leadership and Management from Austin Community College, and a bachelor's degree in English Writing & Rhetoric from St. Edward's University. Some of her other interests include people, flora & fauna, sustainability, good coffee, good causes, and photos. She has recently relocated to her hometown -- San Antonio, Texas.