In a recent article, An Awfully Big Adventure: Strathclyde’s Digital Library Plan, published in Ariadne magazine, Derek Law describes the university’s plan to achieve excellence in league tables and innovation in teaching by focusing “on technology and by extension on e-content” while at the same time make savings on space, utility bills, and other Estate costs.
A substantial capital budget of £2.5 million has been authorised for the purchase or creation of digital material and a recurrent increase of £800,000 agreed for e-journal and e-book purchase. In return the Library has agreed to clear the equivalent of half the space on each of its six floors. This space will be re-used principally as teaching space. This in turn will allow consolidation of the Law, Arts and Social Sciences Faculty in a separate building and the removal of teaching space elsewhere, so reducing the size of the estate, and by extension utilities and other costs. The library collections will be digitised where possible, consolidated into rolling stack where usage merits it and disposed of where there is no real merit in retaining back runs of journals readily available electronically.
While university libraries, like other university departments and all the rest of us, are being asked to tighten their belt when it comes to budgetary decisions, investment in e-content might actually provide a more strategic and focussed long term solution for the survival of an effective library service.
At yesterday’s JISC Conference, Derek Law reitereated that what the University of Strathclyde’s Library has done is not particularly new, other libraries have been doing it too, but the difference is that Strathclyde made “content”, and investment in content, one of their USP.
Blogs, viedo streaming, tweets, interviews, photos and more about the JISC Conference can be found on the JISC Conference web pages.