Strategic Human Resource Planning for Academic Libraries
Copyright © 2015 Michael A. Crumpton. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
5
Emerging trends in academic
libraries
Constant change has become a hallmark for academic libraries with the reduction in
financial support and the dynamic changes occurring within the higher education en-
vironment. This is driven by many factors such as technology and social media, which
makes the strategic planning process critical and timely as academic libraries must re-
main competitive, flexible, and nimble while at the same time being good stewards of
the campus mission and institutional knowledge. As trends emerge human resource re-
quirements change which means that the expectations for individuals change as well.
Changes within academic library environments are not new. This changing nature
of the work performed in academic libraries has been documented in the literature
over the years and in some cases matched to job advertisements as the comparison
criteria (Smith and Lynch, 1999). Behavioral skills have also been a consideration
especially in recognition of how technology can influence human relationships.
Demographic changes are occurring as well with states shifting support for
higher education to more individual support and less institutional allocations. Users’
expectations for library resources in academic environments are changing from
collections-based needs to needs centered on services or instruction. Population de-
mographics are changing to reflect a stronger focus on vocational education related
to available jobs, which creates a decline in support for 4-year liberal arts educational
opportunities. The professional literature has many examples, case studies or stories
of how change has impacted academic libraries and changes can be different based
on priorities and values placed on resources and services by library staffs and their
academic counterparts. Figure 5.1 summarizes trends within the profession and shows
where we are today between traditional concepts of ourselves and what we think the
future will bring.
Within the context of the trends in Figure 5.1, note the underlying changes to the
human resources component. For example, with collections, the trend from storing
or warehousing materials to having on demand strategies in place, changes the skills
needed by library staff working in those areas. Changes to collection development
have changed the skills needed by a broad range of staff, from the people actually plac-
ing orders and processing, to the librarians who use to serve as bibliographers. The
work is not done, largely electronically and more directed by the user, which could
change the perception of the skills, from doing to informing (the user).
Since all of these changes, emerging or futurist, involve humans, formulating and
adapting strategy becomes a much humanized approach. One of the more popular col-
lective pieces written, speculating on changes and trends to academic library was from
the ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee in 2012. This group continually
analyzes trends within the profession, higher education, and the broader environment

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