With the start of a new university year quickly approaching, most freshers will be anxiously waiting to begin their new life at university and excited about the prospect of meeting new friends and delving into their studies. For staff and librarians, the prospect of not only supporting but impressing the new undergraduates may be slightly daunting. Just like any business, academic libraries face problems and challenges that may affect library activities and their objectives for the year ahead. Universities work hard to ensure their library resources are fully functional, easily accessible, up-to-date and maintained correctly – but what are the factors affecting this?
In this era of £9,000 fees, students (and their parents) are understandably expecting more from universities to justify the increased cost. Reality is however that only 27% of a university’s income is funded by student fees, the rest comes from government sources, business activities, charitable donations and international student fees (which could be affected by the UK’s future relationship with the EU). Therefore, the budget dedicated to library initiatives is likely to vary from year-to-year, depending on the university’s funding success and business strategy.
Keeping up with Technology and Digitalisation
Young individuals rely enormously on the use of technology to source information and complete everyday tasks. Because of this, academic libraries must try to accommodate new applications in technology to fully support their students and stay flexible with innovations in learning. E-books, for instance, are a popular online resource that students will turn to for research and study purposes. Unfortunately for libraries e-books are expensive and can prove a problem for users in terms of viewing, printing and downloading. Digital preservation initiatives are also required with the use of this digital technology as information online can become inaccurate and unreliable over time.
Staying up-to-date with Research
University librarians not only need to manage the day-to-day running of the library, but they also need to support the research publication process. This involves learning skills such as data management to stay ahead of research trends and provide students with the most relevant academic materials. For libraries, the biggest problem is ensuring staff are properly trained to handle this information which can be time consuming and costly.
Books, computers, printers & scholarly papers/magazines are expensive resources which can, unfortunately, be neglected, lost or stolen by students and other people entering the library. Relying on staff to monitor and manage all these items is near impossible without the help of a security system. Due to this, it is becoming increasingly important for libraries to have extra resources in place to manage the security of their valuables and to monitor people coming in and out of the library.
Encouraging Students to use Facilities
Encouraging new students to take advantage of the library facilities is another task faced by librarians. Every university wants their students to achieve great grades and feel comfortable and supported in every aspect of their student life. The library is the heart of a university and stores all the vital information and advice required by students to not only achieve high grades but to support them in any struggles they may be facing in their personal life. The happiness of a student will reflect in their feedback which ultimately affects the university’s ranking and success at the end of each year.
With challenge comes opportunity and although obstacles are likely to appear in the academic year ahead, technology and research can also present new opportunities and resources for students. The use of technology to complete mundane tasks will free up staff, so they have time to work on more important library initiatives. D-Tech International is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of high-performance technology products and services for public space locations. D-Tech can help your academic library to effectively run and manage a variety of operations to assist staff and improve the student experience. We provide a huge range of returns and sorting options (AMH), designed to offer a superior library returning service whilst reducing queues and waiting times. If security is an issue in your library, our secureIT™ range of products are at the forefront of technology and quality for library security. The attractive plexiglas frame provides perimeter-based protection and improved alarm-handling capabilities.