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Report Examines New Roles for the Research Library

subject: research library roles
Wendy Lougee
digital library
Semantic Web

CLIR Press Release


For Immediate Release: August 22, 2002

Contact: Deanna Marcum 202-939-4750

Report Examines New Roles for the Research Library

Washington, D.C.—Research libraries are taking on a range of new roles in
the digital age as they become more deeply engaged in the creation and dissemination
of knowledge. While some of these roles are extensions of traditional library
activity, others are largely new. Wendy Lougee, university librarian at the University of Minnesota, explores some of these emerging functions in a report entitled
Diffuse Libraries: Emergent Roles for the Research Library in the Digital
, published by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).

Lougee includes several examples of how some libraries and library
organizations are forging new services in areas of collection development, information access,
and user services; she also touches briefly on the continued importance of library
as place. In addition, she suggests where new roles might emerge. In the section
on information access, for example, she notes the potential for libraries to contribute
to the development of the Semantic Web, which aims to develop languages
for expressing information in a form that machines can process, and which therefore
can be searched more accurately and efficiently. She writes, “Designing the
Semantic Web will require a mix of skills, and librarians have the potential to
contribute significantly to this effort.” She also notes that there is a potential role for the
library in certifying the authenticity and provenance of content on the Semantic Web.

In developing new services, libraries are working more collaboratively with
other campus departments and becoming “more deeply engaged in the
fundamental mission of the academic institutioni.e., the creation and dissemination of knowledgein ways that . . . intertwine the library with the other stakeholders in these activities. The library becomes a collaborator within the academy, yet retains its distinct identity.”

Diffuse Libraries is available on CLIR’s Web site at Print copies will soon be available for ordering through the Web site.

The Council on Library and Information Resources is an independent, nonprofit
organization dedicated to improving the management of information for research, teaching, and learning.
CLIR works to expand access to information, however recorded and preserved, as a public good.

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