By Beth Dempsey
Libraries all over the world are working more effectively using technologies that streamline workflows, improve library services and boost the visibility of both the library and its collections across campus. Here are the developments product leaders at Ex Libris, part of Clarivate™, say are shaping the library landscape in some of the most important and positive ways.
Simplifying workflows and gaining efficiency with automation
Libraries began embracing unified management systems like Alma® a decade ago, dramatically reducing redundant work across multiple systems.
Now, as libraries struggle with vacant positions and increasing demands from stakeholders, they’re leveraging these unified systems to further increase efficiency. Libraries are adding more functionality to their management systems, freeing them to focus on improving user experiences.
“Having to do things only once really frees up librarians’ time to do the actual work that you study to be a librarian for,” said Lili Daie, product manager for Alma.
For example, integrations and interoperability across resource sharing and course materials systems help libraries expand content access, service and improve their campus visibility without adding more staff or increasing workloads.
Embedding the library into faculty and student workflows
Libraries are eager to get more visibility for the key role they play in supporting faculty and students. One area where libraries are expanding their service is in delivering course resources efficiently, simplifying the creation and modification of course resource lists.
“We know that faculty and students are very, very busy,” said Jessie Ransom, lead product manager, Leganto. “Embedding the library into the places where faculty and students are already working and interacting with technology means that students and faculty don’t need to step outside of what they’re doing to interact with the library.”
Course materials systems like Leganto® embed the library into classroom workflows, streamlining access to course materials and reducing costs to students – metrics that show the value of the library’s collections, services and expertise. Because faculty and students access course materials from within the learning management system, course material engagement is built in their workflows. Students can also attach comments and questions to the assigned content in collaboration with peers and can respond to instructors’ reading prompts.
This is especially important now, as hybrid and online teaching is growing and challenging universities to ensure a meaningful academic experience, fulfill students’ expectations for online access to course materials and keep students engaged wherever they are.
Improving service to users with resource sharing technologies
While resource sharing has been around for decades, its importance surged when library buildings closed during the pandemic and libraries collaborated to increase access to digital content. The benefits of sharing collections are many, and libraries are building networks that take collaboration to a new level. These networks are increasingly being created through new generation sharing systems like Rapido, which automate workflows and enable libraries to manage a high volume of loans with little mediation. These user-centric systems have fast turnarounds and transparent processes that identify firm delivery dates.
“An e-commerce-like service that is fast and easy to use is really important and is going to be increasingly important,” said Katie Birch, vice president of resource sharing solutions. “When a patron requests an item, they want to know how long it’s going to take for the item to reach them.”
With new generation solutions like Rapido, students and faculty self-serve effectively, empowered with knowledge, choice and control – all possible because of the library’s service.
Expanding access to resources with Controlled Digital Lending
Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) is a developing practice which allows libraries to lend a digital copy of a physical resource that the library has in its collection. It enables libraries to cater to patrons with differing needs, such as a print disability or difficulty in accessing a library building.
“Controlled Digital Lending can give the libraries and patrons more flexibility in accessing materials,” said Daniel Greenberg, director of product management for digital solutions. CDL can provide a “transformative use” that is beyond just scanning material. “With CDL, patrons have the flexibility to zoom in and out, search full-text and improve their accessibility via audio-visual aides.”
CDL operates with a set of core principles:
- to lend, a library must own a legal copy of the physical book
- the library can’t lend more copies than it owns
- the library should use technical measures to prevent the digital file from being copied or redistributed
Meeting these principles requires a community-wide response including measures from vendors. For example, Alma, as a unified resource library management system that manages both the physical source and digital surrogate, has proven useful for library workflows and an enhanced copyright safety net. Further community support has resulted in a greater focus on functional workflows, course materials management systems and resource sharing solutions, like Leganto and Rapido.
Boosting discovery of library content with linked data
Libraries are a source of curated knowledge, unlike the internet, which is a gateway to bountiful but not always authoritative content. To enjoy quality information, it must be easily accessible to users who are accustomed to finding everything they want to know at their fingertips. Searches limited to topic, book title and author name in a closed system are not enough.
“The world of information is about connecting. It’s so important to not let libraries be left out,” said Daie. “Linked data is one of the ways to make the library’s high-quality information easy to find and connect to.”
With linked data, libraries and patrons can access a metadata ecosystem with enriched discoverability and comprehensive interoperability, inspiring serendipitous discovery. Combining the relevant, reliable and informative data that libraries provide with fast, intuitive discovery and linking practices can change how knowledge is accessed and used.
Library-centric organizations like Ex Libris are leading the way by working with their user communities to prioritize plans and take advantage of linked data. That collaboration has resulted in the ability to use linked data through the Alma and Primo services.
You can take a deeper dive into these important topics in an on-demand webinar where Ex Libris experts discuss how these advances are making an impact in libraries around the world.
Learn more about Ex Libris and our solutions here.
February 15, 2023