A report detailing the rise of the Google search among young academics has prompted debate about the future of libraries. The research, funded by the Publishing Research Consortium, looks at the attitudes to publishing of early career academics and suggests that libraries have “little to offer” the next generation of academics.
But the Society of College, National and University Libraries (Sconul) said that no matter how junior scholars discover materials, the resources were “almost certainly” made available by the university library.
The findings are based on interviews with 116 junior academics from seven countries, including the UK, the US, Spain and China, working across science and social science. It is the first report to come out of a planned three-year qualitative study that will analyse how junior academics approach scholarly communication and the extent to which they are adopting social media, online communities and open science.
The report says that it finds “bad news for libraries” because they “seem to have lost all their visibility. Lots of early career researchers have not gone to the library for years,” it adds.
“Their discovery systems have been bypassed by Google to a large extent, and to make matters worse their institutional repositories are not popular either. Libraries appear to have little to offer to the big new wave of researchers, so down the line there have to be worries for their long term future as resources for postdocs,” says the report, Early Career Researchers: The Harbingers of Change?
The document adds that early career researchers consider libraries to be “places for undergraduates to sit and work”, which they say makes them “very expensive assets”.
But Ann Rossiter, executive director of Sconul, said that researchers did not need to come into a library building to use their services.