From ACRL: Top Trends in Academic Libraries

A Review of the Trends and Issues

This collectively authored report by the ACRL Research Planning & Review Committee is a relatively brief overview of areas where the academic library community expects to see heightened need of investigation and study. Note that the specified areas are relatively general in tone and not necessarily related to technology. 

Indicative of the collective sense of the committee was the following quote, having to do with the impact of COVID-19:

…a significant and diverse impact on librarianship, including rethinking long-held paradigms, increased professional stress around institutional budgets, and the ability to work remotely. The pandemic also surfaced long-standing issues of inequality and inaccessibility in libraries. Despite the challenges raised by closures, libraries continued to deliver core services and creative solutions, including virtual reference with increasing complexity, a renewed focus on digital literacy with the rise in online learning, and born-digital collection development.

Listed as key trends emerging over the past two years were

  1. Library Staffing 
  2. Space Utilization
  3. Collaborative Collections and Growth of Shared Print
  4. Open Everything
  5. Artificial Intelligence
  6. Data
  7. Critical Librarianship

The article refers the reader to published investigations in each of those areas. 

However, possibly most important was the closing note of the report: We foresee numerous challenges in the next few years, including potential budget reductions as well as questions about returning to the physical office after an extended period of virtual work.”

Attempting to close on an optimistic tone, the committee foresaw “new opportunities for collaboration, additional interest in critical perspectives, and incorporation of different approaches to manage shared collections will allow academic librarians to continue leading the way in student success and learning, organizational impact, and rigorous scholarly inquiry.”

The full text of the College & Research Libraries article is open access and viewable here