Terms of Reference
Special Research Libraries and Information Services outside the humanities
Summary of Recommendations
1. The Group's membership was:
Professor Michael Anderson, University of
Mr Paul Bolt, Department of National Heritage (first meeting only)
Professor David Dilks, Vice-Chancellor, University of Hull (CVCP representative)
Professor Bernard Donovan, Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers
Professor Tim Drey, Vice-Principal, King Alfred's College (SCOP representative)
Mr Mark English, Department of National Heritage (third meeting only)
Ms Alice Frost, Policy Division, HEFCE
Ms N Gardner, Director of Educational Services, University of Ulster (DENI representative)
Mr Henry Heaney, Librarian, University of Glasgow (SHEFC representative)
Dr Brian Lang, Chief Executive, The British Library
Mr Graham McKenna, Principal Librarian, NERC (Research Councils' representative)
Professor Peter Marshall (British Academy representative)
Ms Caroline Moss-Gibbons, Institute Librarian, Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (Research Councils' representative)
Dr Brynley Roberts (HEFCW representative)
Mr John Durnin, Deputy Secretary, SHEFC (Secretary)
2. The Group's terms of reference were as follows:
'Taking into account the Report of the Joint Funding Councils' Libraries Review Group (particularly Chapter 6), the response to the consultation and the decisions of the Funding Councils and DENI on that Report:
(a) to consider the recommendations of the Review Group that:
"the development of a national and regional strategy governing library provision for researchers across all subjects should be carried out by the Funding Councils in consultation at the highest level with the CVCP, SCOP, the Research Councils, the British Academy, the British Library and the national libraries of Scotland and Wales, and the Library and Information Commission; and detailed proposals should be brought within a year";
(b) to conduct an initial survey of the issues involved;
(c) to identify areas where detailed work is necessary; and
(d) to make recommendations on how this work should be undertaken.'
In consideration of its terms of reference, the Group noted in particular items (b), (c) and (d), and that its remit was not to produce a detailed blueprint for a national library strategy for research, but to examine the various issues which would be involved in the formation of such a strategy, and to recommend means by which a more detailed strategy might be created.
3. The Group met three times: on 21 September 1994, 15 November 1994 and 12 December 1994. The final drafting of the Report was completed by correspondence.
4. The Group spent some time in the collection of data and evidence from individual librarians. The response from these individuals was almost invariably helpful and the Group would like to thank them for the assistance they gave. In particular, the Group sought views on the operation of current arrangements for external access from librarians whose libraries had particularly high numbers of external users. The Group also investigated existing inter-library co-operative arrangements which are operating at a local or regional level. These co-operative groups were in Manchester, where the Consortium of Academic Libraries in Manchester (CALIM) was established a few years ago; and in Sheffield where the Sheffield Interchange Operation (SINTO) includes the libraries of Sheffield University and Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield City Libraries and various other organisations. The Group had knowledge also of collaborative arrangements in Newcastle, which persist largely on the informal basis on which they began over 20 years ago. Information was sought also on regional co-operation within Scotland; and on the roles of the British Library and the national libraries of Scotland and Wales in supporting research. Various sources were, in addition, asked for information on the extent of collaboration between the libraries in London. Discussion within the Group itself also provided a considerable amount of valuable information on various matters such as the significance of the Research Council Libraries and potential roles for the British Library.
5. The Group took as a starting point for its deliberations the principle which had been accepted by the Libraries Review Group that higher education institutions should themselves be responsible for library provision, or arranging access to library provision, for their undergraduate and taught postgraduate students. The concern of the Group was therefore with provision for research masters students upwards.
6. Much of the current position on library provision for researchers is set out in paragraphs 200 to 221 of the Report of the Libraries Review Group. The Review Group observed that, for historical reasons, the provision of library services in support of research has been very uneven. There have been considerable differences in levels of resourcing between the two sides of the old binary line and, on either side, between individual institutions.
7. The Review Group also found (Report, paragraph 266) 'several developments over the last five years [which] ... have led to concern about the capacity of libraries in higher education to meet the needs of research into the next century'. These developments included:
(i) increasing selectivity in the funding of research by the UFC and the Funding Councils. The effects of the more selective distribution of a limited amount of money have been accentuated by the abolition of the binary line, causing some institutions to experience a thinner spread of the available resources, particularly as the creation of a unified HE sector has encouraged more institutions to pursue a wider range of research activities;
(ii) the rapid inflation in the prices of periodicals (and, though to a lesser extent, in prices of books); and
(iii) the growing number of publications
8. The consequence of these recent developments has, in the Group's view, been to intensify the trends towards an increasingly uneven distribution of library material for researchers within higher education institutions, and to lead to the increasing concentration of much valuable material in certain institutions. The conclusion which the Review Group had reached was that it was now 'neither feasible, nor even desirable, to expect each institution itself to provide for all the research needs of its staff and users'. (Report, paragraph 226). Arguably, this aim was not possible in any institution in the western world.
9. There were three other factors which it was important that the Group take into account in its discussion. The first is the increasing financial pressures on all higher education institutions through the annual requirement of the Funding Councils that they find further efficiency gains in their use of resources. These pressures make it vital that institutions can, individually or where appropriate collectively, make the best possible use of scarce funds. The second factor is the growing financial pressures on the national copyright libraries, where acquisitions budgets are falling some way behind the inflation rate, with the consequence that these libraries are having to be increasingly selective in the materials which they acquire. The third factor is the recent development of the application of information technology in libraries, which has created new opportunities for managing and disseminating the results of research. These factors together provide particular encouragement for the establishment of a more co-operative approach to research provision, particularly given the extent to which technological development is facilitating shared access to library holdings, although the Group noted that we remain some distance away from the full realisation of the potential value of new technology and care should be taken not to over-estimate its present possibilities.
10. The problem is not simply a lack of research material. Indeed, there is no evidence that the higher education sector has so far markedly narrowed the range of library material it is collecting, though there is some concern over the comprehensiveness of acquisitions in the UK of some important foreign language monograph material The need for increased sharing of resources also poses problems with regard to awareness of where this material is held and of how to obtain it. In addition, the existence of material, even when its whereabouts are known, can only be put to advantage when physical access to it can be obtained at a reasonable cost.
11. The conclusion of the Libraries Review Group, after considering the present position on library provision for research, was that 'in order to provide for specialist or very expensive needs, networks of research libraries should be encouraged to develop at national or regional level, which might be discipline based or cover a number of subject areas. In each case, they would draw on the strength of particular libraries or groups of libraries. This will require a willingness on the part of individual HEIs, and representative bodies such as the CVCP, as well as the funding councils, to take such an approach'. (Report, paragraph 220). What elements, however, would such a national or regional strategy require in order to be workable and regarded as equitable by its users?
12. The Group was agreed that such a strategy should involve the active participation of the national copyright libraries, university research libraries, the libraries and resource centres of the Research Councils, the larger public libraries and, preferably, some libraries funded by learned and professional societies.
13. The Group agreed that such a strategy would need to provide:
(i) the means to locate and to gain access to material with reasonable ease, reasonable speed and at reasonable cost to individuals and individual institutions;
(ii) the long-term preservation of material which is of importance for future research or which may be considered part of the national heritage, while recognising that the library of long-term preservation may not be the same as the library which originally acquired or provided access to the material;
(iii) a system which is perceived by its users to operate fairly and to the advantage of all. On the one hand, there must not be a sense that some institutions are providing services and receiving nothing in return, or that some are having unreasonable demands put on them by virtue of the importance of the material they hold. On the other hand, there should not be institutions which are 'freeloading' on the system as a whole and entering into research commitments while depending on other institutions to provide for the resulting library and information requirements;
(iv) a system which works with economy and which provides value for money and the most effective use of existing resources, particularly bearing in mind that, with certain exceptions, most acquisitions will be made with public funds;
(v) a system which is not only sustainable and capable of developing and adapting to changing circumstances, but which does not undermine the strengths of the present system; and
(vi) a system that plays to the strengths of the different participants, whose participation is supported by formal and public commitments not just from the librarians but from the senior management of the organisations concerned.
14. The Group believed that future arrangements for collaboration between libraries should be grounded in clearly articulated library and information plans which are closely linked to the core missions of the institutions concerned. These plans should be endorsed by the institutions' senior management. In this way, while financial needs or changes in mission might change commitments in the longer term, there would in the short and medium-term be a firm and public commitment on which collaborations might be built and shared responsibilities allocated.
15. The Libraries Review Group has already identified the need for higher education institutions to prepare information strategies to provide for the information needs of their staff and students. The Funding Councils have endorsed the Review Group's recommendation that institutions should prepare these plans as part of their strategic planning exercises, to ensure that the information strategies have the support of the institutions at the highest level and are an integral part of the institutions' corporate aims.
16. The Group recommends that:
(i) the Funding Councils should require that institutions' information strategies provide detail on how the institutions intend to secure adequate access to library material for research in the various subject areas in which they claim to be active (such plans might range from comprehensive local provision, through formal and locally funded collaborations with other institutions, to heavy dependence on inter-library loans and staff travel to other institutions); and
(ii) the information strategies should also provide details of their acquisition and retention policies, their policies on library collaboration with other institutions and policies on access by researchers from outside the institution.
17. The Group recommends that all institutions which aspire to have a role in the national research library strategy should publish their information plans in sufficient detail to enable other participants to form stable working relationships with them and, where appropriate, to share with them collection and retention responsibilities. For higher education institutions this duty would require them to make publicly available at least a summary of the appropriate parts of their information strategies, endorsed by their senior management. For the national libraries it would require the publication of their corporate plans and collection policies where these plans and policies are not at present published. The Research Councils would be invited to make available analogous documents in relation to their library and information resources, as would the sponsors of other significant research libraries. The Group believes that such openness will greatly facilitate stable, medium-term collaborative activity.
18. In consideration of the existing availability and ease of access to materials for researchers, the Group was able to identify some areas where current policies and practices had ensured reasonably adequate availability of research material. These included:
(i) access to the less used English language serials, both in arts and social sciences and in science, medicine and technology. Such ease of access was facilitated by remote document supply and, in particular, by the British Library Document Supply Centre (BLDSC);
(ii) last resort access to UK-published and English language monograph material of national or regional significance in arts and social sciences and in science, medicine and technology. The role played by the legal deposit libraries in ensuring such access, and especially by the British Library through the BLDSC at Boston Spa has had particular benefits;
(iii) access to the most needed foreign language serials, especially in science, medicine and technology (from BLDSC in particular); and
(iv) archival storage of last copies of monographs and journals. This task is normally carried out by the legal deposit libraries, or co-ordinated by them.
19. The Funding Councils' programme of support for specialised research collections in the humanities should ensure ready access to the majority of important collections and archives, and increase awareness of their existence and their content. However, it should be noted that this programme cannot assist the small but valuable collections which are held in a variety of libraries outside the higher education institutions.
20. Institutions' retention policies were mentioned in paragraph 16 (ii). The Group spent a significant amount of time in discussion of this topic at a more general level. Which library should take responsibility for the long-term storage of what material? The Group was made aware of the view of the British Library that it is normally that Library's role and that of the other National Libraries, and not the role of the higher education libraries, to build comprehensive archive collections or to arrange for the preservation of material elsewhere. The Group supports this view and further agrees that there would be economies and efficiency savings to be made in establishing a more formal national retention framework, particularly through avoiding the costs of sustaining little used collections. The Group recommends that such a framework should be discussed by the legal deposit libraries with the other libraries prepared to accept this form of long-term commitment. The economies of scale which are to be gained through such a framework should outweigh the costs libraries incur in disposing of unwanted material and the slight inconveniences that the operation of a retention policy may cause.
21. The Group also identified areas where it believed that present policies and practices were failing to ensure adequate provision for researchers or where there seemed to be serious risks of inadequate provision in the near future. These areas included:
(i) the provision of adequately co-ordinated information on the location and current availability of research material;
(ii) the collection of non-print material and arrangements for access to it for research, and for its long-term preservation. The legal deposit libraries have brought forward some draft proposals on the legal deposit of non-print material, but there seems to be widespread agreement that these proposals need to be further developed, particularly with respect to arrangements for access, storage and the long-term preservation of digitised materials, including regularly updated databases;
(iii) 'grey literature', an area of growing importance in many fields of science, technology and medicine and in the social sciences;
(iv) last resort acquisition of nationally and internationally research-relevant non-English language monographs (and monographs written in English but published outside the UK). This area is one where some collaborative arrangements have already developed, but where there is a need for more formal arrangements as the legal deposit libraries no longer have the resources to support the level of back-up provision that they have offered in the past. The responsibilities for collecting such material which have been taken on by other institutions are normally semi-formal and lack secure funding;
(v) second resort access for consultation and browsing of a wide range of material not held in local libraries. This area is one of growing difficulty as a result of the increasing selectivity in the funding of research and the other developments (notably the inflation of journal prices) which adversely affect the availability of research material;
(vi) security of access to and preservation of specialised library and information resources in subject areas outside the humanities, particularly those resources which are the responsibility of the Research Councils. These resources may be under particular threat in the light of the more focused missions which were given to the Research Councils by the 1993 Science White Paper Realising Our Potential;
(vii) the existence of a significant number of small libraries, notably those managed by Research Councils or learned societies, where staffing levels may be inadequate to guarantee continuity of expertise or to allow opening hours which are commensurate with the importance of the collections; and
(viii) the possibility that restrictions on local government funding and the effects of local government reform may adversely affect the local, regional and (in some cases) national research role of public libraries.
22. Paragraph 13 set out the objectives which the Group believes a library strategy on research must aim to achieve. Following paragraphs examined in more detail the areas of difficulty which a strategy would seek to tackle. The next section of the Group's report considers the form such a strategy might take, and the structures it would develop.
23. Paragraph 9 observed that recent developments in the application of information technology in libraries have created new opportunities for the management and dissemination of the results of research.
24. An electronic approach to the implementation of a research strategy would be based on systems for the electronic storage, access and transmission of information. Material for researchers would be available in digital form and there would be in place the necessary electronic infrastructure for the delivery of the digitised material. Such systems would enable material stored in one place to be readily transmitted elsewhere, making the resources of major libraries available to other institutions.
25. However, there are at present significant obstacles to this approach. These obstacles are mainly legal and cultural, rather than technical, though it is not clear how quickly technical developments can provide mass access to books and monographs, especially for older works which are not suitable for copying. It is also important that satisfactory and uniform arrangements for the electronic storage of materials are established. A principal obstacle is copyright, and until progress is made in this area the potential benefits of technology are unlikely to be realised. The Group was aware of the relevant work being carried out by the Electronic Libraries Programme on copyright and of the discussion in the Follett Implementation Group (FIG). However, the Group considers that it is unlikely that an electronic approach to comprehensive research provision, despite its undoubted attractions, will offer a feasible base for a research strategy at least in the shorter term, even for journals.
26. A more prosaic approach would physically move items from collections to researchers on a much wider scale than at present. Its advantages would be speed and the reduction of demands on study space in the major libraries. This approach may be particularly attractive in a local or regional context. However, it is relatively expensive and any systematic arrangements may tend only to duplicate, at greater cost, the service available from the BLDSC at Boston Spa. Movement of material which is very old, rare or fragile is not desirable. These disadvantages suggest that this approach will have only limited value as part of a research strategy.
27. There may be some advantages, perhaps especially for remoter institutions, of the converse approach - the movement of people to collections. The Group learned with interest of a scheme in operation at the University of Ulster where the University, instead of adding to its library budget, had developed a policy whereby members of staff were given grants to allow them to visit libraries in other parts of the UK for the purposes of scholarship. Such a system might be more cost effective and bring benefits which are not available through inter-library loans or document supply, such as opportunities for browsing. The Group recommends that all institutions consider the potential benefits they might obtain from the introduction of a similar system.
28. The Group considered also the merits of a system based on the creation of a small number of centrally funded multidisciplinary 'hyperlibraries'. One version of this approach would involve the public library system and the British Library setting up five or six hyperlibraries, on a regional basis. A less ambitious and perhaps more academically-orientated model would involve building on a small number of existing university collections which were already extensively used by researchers drawn from outside the home institutions.
29. The Group did not favour this approach, and doubted the feasibility of the hyperlibrary even in its less ambitious form. This form would require special funding arrangements in order to build the extensive collections which the hyperlibraries would hold. Such arrangements would require a significant amount of top-slicing of the funds available to institutions, including funds for the costs of central management and perhaps for travel by individuals to the hyperlibrary. If the model were to be workable there would have to be agreements between institutions on acquisitions, access, holdings and disposals which would require long-term commitment. Some institutions might find the amount of central direction the model involved to be incompatible with their full autonomy. This model would also fail to build on the large number of existing centres of excellence in many areas of the humanities, where the depth of holdings in a range of subjects would be insufficient to justify inclusion in a hyperlibrary system.
30. The Group's preferred option is the more formal development of networks of libraries which seek to take advantage of the individual strengths of each. The libraries forming part of those networks would, on agreed terms, provide access and facilities to researchers from other institutions. The development of effective networks would enable the emergence of the following pattern of provision for researchers.
- 1. First Resort:
- own library or other local holdings or material available through local co-operative arrangements
- 2. Second Resort:
- the BLDSC or the appropriate network libraries
- 3. Last Resort:
- the British Library/the National Libraries (or, for some minority subjects, another designated library).
31. The Group considered how this pattern could be developed to meet the established criteria which are set out in paragraph 13. Firstly, the system has the potential for speedy and relatively inexpensive access to materials. At least for the next few years, much of this access will continue to come from inter-library loans, and especially through BLDSC. However, reductions in library budgets will create a need to be aware of other locations of wanted materials, particularly in the humanities and social sciences. The key to achieving such awareness is that the contents of important research collections should be fully identifiable through networked On- line Public Access Catalogues (OPACs), free at the point of use and operating according to the best international standards. The Group also attaches considerable importance to the development of improved navigation tools (including tools based on modern knowledge-based systems technologies) to facilitate the location of materials across distributed databases in as user-friendly and user-transparent a way as possible. The Group therefore recommends that the Electronic Libraries Programme gives further consideration to the action necessary for the development of an integrated approach to such networked OPACs. Such consideration should include the possibility of recommending to the Funding Councils (or, where appropriate, the Research Councils) that they make resources available for non-recurrent grants to be awarded on a competitive basis to key institutions whose participation in a research library network would otherwise be inhibited by the inability to supply OPAC services of the sort described.
32. The first and second criteria set out in paragraph 13 are that the strategy ensures access to and preservation of material of academic significance, and preserves material which is considered part of the national heritage. In the past there was an expectation that such preservation would be carried out by the British Library and, where appropriate, the National Libraries, as the libraries of last resort, and that they would seek to acquire important research materials in all subjects. This expectation is clearly no longer realistic, but the National Libraries have not yet developed formal and public policies on subjects where collecting responsibilities could be passed to other organisations. The Group is of the view that such formal policies are now needed to enable partnership arrangements to be made with other organisations. If such arrangements are made in the context of the development of a national research strategy, responsibilities for acquisitions and holdings in particular subject areas might rest with certain institutions which had core missions in areas of special subject expertise. (The School of Oriental and African Studies might provide an example in certain parts of its subject coverage.) Institutions nominated in this way would have to be prepared to recognise library commitments as part of their long-term core missions, and acknowledge this role in their institutional plans. In return, there would be some form of agreement between the National Libraries and the appropriate Funding Council to ensure that the institutions received proper funding to enable them to undertake such responsibilities. The Group agreed to recommend that the Funding Councils should open negotiations with the British Library and the National Libraries to set up pilot projects in this field. Institutions should recognise that their provision of last resort acquisition and access services need not necessarily imply a commitment to long-term preservation of material.
33. The National Libraries already devolve responsibilities for holding local materials to local libraries. The Group believes that there would be advantages in formalising these arrangements and recommends that the Department of National Heritage and the responsible Departments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, should seek to ensure that every local authority has a nominated library with formal responsibility for negotiating arrangements with the national and other research libraries for the acquisition and preservation of important local research material.
34. The third criterion set out in paragraph 13 is that of fairness. The Group considers that this objective is best achieved through the creation of equitable financial arrangements (see paragraph 41). In addition, to limit the scope for freeloading, the Group recommends that the Funding Councils should require that a summary of how library support is provided for an area of assessment should be included in an institution's submission to the Research Assessment Exercise. The Research Councils, the British Academy and other sponsors of research and postgraduate students should, in considering the award of fellowships and studentships, assure themselves that proper library support will be available.
35. The fourth criterion was that the system should work with efficiency, effectiveness and economy. The Group considers that these standards can best be met through making the most of the strengths of existing libraries either nationally, as part of the national strategy for research provision, or locally, as part of a local collaborative arrangement.
36. The Group discussed at length the role in a national and regional research strategy of a further extension of local co- operative arrangements, such as those mentioned in paragraph 4. Other examples exist in many parts of the country, particularly in metropolitan areas where the proximity of institutions can bring many advantages, especially in avoiding unnecessary duplication in acquisition and retention. The Group was aware of the work carried out by the Libraries Review Group in looking at local co-operative schemes. The Group agrees with the Review Group that the 'principal responsibility for establishing and maintaining local and regional co-operative arrangements should remain with individual institutions themselves' (Report, paragraph 183). It does not feel that it is necessary to provide any further encouragement for the instigation of such ventures.
37. However, the Group did look at factors which might inhibit the development of this form of collaboration. Changes in senior staff can cause uncertainties while informal arrangements may be liable to break down when there are particular pressures and constraints on library budgets. The Group did find attractive a proposition that many potential difficulties could be overcome through the development of formal arrangements, supported at the highest level in institutions, aimed at finding economies of scale in the management of libraries. In particular there was interest in the development of arrangements which would place libraries in two or more institutions in a single locality under joint administration for certain of their functions, including research support. The Group recommends that the Funding Councils should be asked to consider the introduction of a modest incentive fund to provide support to assist cost effective measures of this nature.
38. The Funding Councils have already accepted the recommendation of the Libraries Review Group that institutions' strategic plans should contain a component dealing specifically with library and related services, and that this component should be based on institutions' own information strategies (Report, paragraph 94). The Group further recommends that this component should include an account of the collaborative library arrangements in which the institutions are participating. Institutions should view such collaborations as central parts of their information strategies.
39. Physical proximity between participating institutions is not necessary for a library network of the kind outlined in paragraph 30. While the Group found that Scotland offered an example of fruitful collaboration undertaken on a regional basis, particular local factors such as the high level of involvement of the National Library of Scotland were in place. The advent of electronic networking and high speed document delivery will render distance irrelevant for some types of material. Transport difficulties often mean that it is no more inconvenient for researchers to travel to a major national centre than to a regional centre where they might be less certain of obtaining the material they want.
40. The Group therefore concluded that the main orientation of future developments in higher education and National Libraries should be towards a national strategy for research libraries. This strategy might develop in three ways:
(i) the publication of firmly based institutional plans as recommended in paragraph 16 would facilitate the further development of the existing semi-formal collaborations between major research libraries. In particular, these partnerships should be encouraged to explore arrangements for the joint acquisition of minority foreign language publications;
(ii) the existence of published plans and adequate discouragement of abuse of the system should encourage the continuation of open access to research collections, at least for consultation, by staff and postgraduate students from any higher education institution; and
(iii) the recognition that such open access will never be a cost free activity to providing institutions, and may impose particular burdens on some larger research libraries which receive a large number of visitors (who are particularly likely to use staff-intensive services such as reference and special collections) and telephone enquiries. Where the burdens of meeting external demand are particularly great, and can be audited as such, the Group recommends that the libraries involved should be compensated for their extra costs incurred on behalf of other parts of the UK academic system.
41. The financial arrangements to support such a solution would require to be worked out and handled with considerable care. The preference of the Group, on the grounds of simplicity and efficiency, is that the Funding Councils develop framework agreements with appropriate university libraries and consider the provision of special funding to these institutions to meet the additional administrative costs and service their libraries will incur in serving researchers from other institutions. The Group is aware that top-slicing of this kind will be met with objections, both in principle and, more particularly, from those who would see it as additional funding for large and well-provided institutions. These objections can be logically countered if the resources are drawn solely from the Councils' research budgets, and if the economy and efficiency gained through avoiding duplication of library stock and services can be clearly demonstrated. There are also considerable advantages in the guarantee of continuity of funding which top-slicing should provide. In particular, it seems to the Group that it is wasteful for institutions seeking to increase their levels of research activity to build advanced collections of research material in their libraries, when similar collections are already available elsewhere.
42. If this top-slicing method of funding is unacceptable to the Councils, then there are two alternatives. First, that institutions pay a fee for use of the system. This arrangement might tend to create additional administrative expense. Many might also see it as little advance on existing inter-library loan arrangements and libraries would continue to come under pressure from academics to strive to maintain comprehensive collections in their disciplines, even where the material is relatively easy to obtain from larger centres. The second alternative is to fund the system through block subscription by institutions. This arrangement would require less bureaucracy than the first alternative, would extend some existing arrangements and would introduce a voluntary element which some institutions might find attractive. Either scheme must promise a secure financial base and a guarantee of extended life which can be taken up with confidence by a participating library.
43. Before any scheme can be established it will be necessary to determine the scale of demand for access by researchers to materials held in other libraries. The extent of such demand will indicate the level of funding which may be necessary to support the proposed system. The limited survey work carried out by the Group suggests that considerable demand already exists and that, in particular, institutions from the polytechnic side of the old binary line tend to depend on the longer-established research libraries for significant amounts of material, to the extent that there is a danger in these libraries coming to feel that the demands are excessive and wishing to place restrictions on external access. The Advisory Committee on Information Access and Supply of the Standing Council of National and University Libraries (SCONUL) is to undertake a survey of arrangements for external access to higher education libraries and has agreed to include in this survey a section relating to access by researchers. This survey may produce valuable information but the Group recommends that, in order to determine fully the costs and benefits to institutions of co-operation, both current and potential, the survey is followed by a consultancy which looks specifically at the extent of demand from researchers for material from the libraries of other institutions, examines the additional marginal costs caused by this demand, looks at the possibility of auditable accounting of external use of libraries, and considers the transfers of funding which might be involved in a network strategy. The range and precise remit of the consultancy might be shaped by the SCONUL survey's findings. The Group is grateful to SCONUL for its assistance.
44. The Group spent some time in consideration of the particular position of the higher education libraries in London. It sought information from librarians in London on existing collaborative arrangements between the institutions, and received details of the activities of the London Library Resources Co-ordinating Committee and of other agreements between libraries, including the British Library. The view of the Group is that lack of time and lack of in-depth knowledge prevent it from taking this work further. Its membership was not constituted to carry out this particularly complex task. However, it would commend to the institutions within London the network model and would suggest that they themselves consider its applicability, with appropriate modifications, to the London area.
45. The Group was aware that many public libraries hold collections which may be unique and which are of great value to researchers, particularly where the research topic is related to the local area. A specific recommendation on the acquisition of local material is contained in paragraph 33. Some public libraries also hold collections of national or international importance. Public libraries already co-operate with higher education libraries in many districts. The Group recommends that the new Libraries Commission should consider the importance of preserving the existing research functions of the public libraries.
46. Paragraph 19 recorded the Group's hope that the Funding Councils' current programme of additional funding for specialised research collections in the humanities would tackle most of the significant problems of access and preservation in this area. However, the Group is aware that there are some significant research resources in subject areas outside the humanities which are not covered by this programme and which may remain significantly under-supported in the light of their wider role. Many of these resources (including some of the Research Council libraries) contain materials other than monographs or journals, including substantial collections of 'grey literature' and items such as maps, photographs and unpublished data. In addition, some Research Council institutes hold major collections of data, much of it in machine-readable form. Some Research Council and learned and professional society libraries also provide significant second resort collections of material which are regularly consulted by scientists and scholars, both academic and commercial, from many parts of the UK and overseas. It is important that in any changes of organisational form to private or agency status, access for researchers to major library collections which would form part of any national network does not disappear. While Research Council sites have JANET/INTERNET access, much remains to be done to digitise holdings records to make the material fully accessible to users at remote locations.
47. As far as the Research Council holdings are concerned, the Group is aware that the Councils have been reviewing their information policies and wider issues of collaboration as a result of the 1993 Science White Paper Realising Our Potential. The Group recommends that, based on these initiatives, the Research Councils should publish their library and information strategies on acquisitions, retention and access. The Group further recommends that the Research Council libraries should consider building closer collaborative arrangements with other special and academic libraries and resource holdings in their subject field.
48. The Group is also aware that there are some important learned and professional society libraries which are vulnerable to closure or to limitations on their operations as a result of limited staffing or shortage of funds. The Group believes that there may often be advantages (in terms of preservation, conservation, staffing and the availability of information on networked OPACs) in such libraries entering long-term management agreements with major research libraries. It hopes that major research libraries will view sympathetically requests from these independent libraries for assistance or collaboration of this kind.
49. Paragraph 21(iii) recorded the Group's concern that improvements were needed in the current library arrangements for 'grey literature'. This term covers a wide range of technical reports and an increasing output of working papers, background papers and pre-print series. In many areas of the social and natural sciences, grey literature forms an important element of the advancing knowledge base. It is increasingly the first place where important research results are made known, and it is sometimes the only place where the more technical and methodological aspects of a topic are described. The British Library has indicated its intention to expand its holdings in this area, especially through the BLDSC, but the Group feels it unlikely that the Library will be able to cover all the important material, an increasing proportion of which is likely to become available in digital form. The Group recommends that the British Library publish its plans for grey literature as a consultation paper, and that the other National Libraries should also indicate their intended range of future holdings. In the light of responses received during the consultation, arrangements should be considered for transferring responsibility for holdings in some specialist subject areas in the way proposed in paragraph 32 which dealt with more conventional library material.
50. The Group is aware that the British Library, in consultation with the other legal deposit libraries and other bodies, is currently working on proposals for the legal deposit of a range of non-print materials. The Group's main concerns lie with the urgent need to develop better arrangements for collection and preservation of the growing range of digital databases, and with the ways in which user access to these data can best be assured. The Group believes that this issue belongs within the remit of the Follett Implementation Group on Information Technology (FIGIT). It agreed to recommend that the Electronic Libraries Programme should consider these problems as a matter of priority. The Group also recommends that the legal deposit libraries should consult through the Funding Councils with the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) to ensure that their plans for the collection and preservation of non-print material fit with JISC's developing national database strategy. JISC should be given the prime responsibility for developing national policy in this area. If need be, JISC's membership should be reviewed to ensure that it can carry out this responsibility.
51. The Group is conscious that implementation of its proposal to establish a national network of research libraries will be dependent on the willing co-operation of the higher education institutions, the Research Councils and the major public libraries. The Group therefore recommends that, in the first instance, this report is issued for widespread consultation and that following this consultation the Follett Implementation Group (FIG) forms a small group to discuss the report with representatives of the CVCP, SCOP, COSHEP, the British Library, the office of the Director General of the Research Councils, the Humanities Research Board of the British Academy and the Library and Information Commission. The recommendations in the Group's report only point towards the outline of a national strategy on library provision for researchers. Much work remains to be done.
52. Development of a national or regional strategy for library provision for research must involve the active participation of the national copyright libraries, university research libraries, the libraries and resource centres of the Research Councils, the larger public libraries and the important libraries funded by learned and professional societies (paragraph 12).
53. The Funding Councils should require that institutions' information strategies provide detail on how the institutions intend to secure adequate access to library material for research in the various subject areas in which they claim to be active (paragraph 16(i)).
54. Institutions' information strategies ought also to provide details of their acquisition and retention policies, their policies on library collaboration and policies on access for researchers from other institutions (paragraph 16(ii)).
55. All institutions which aspire to have a role in the national research library strategy should publish their information plans in sufficient detail to enable other participants to form stable working relationships with them and, where appropriate, to share with them collection and retention responsibilities. For higher education institutions this duty would require them to make publicly available at least a summary of the appropriate parts of their information strategies, endorsed by their senior management. For the National Libraries it would require the publication of their corporate plans and collection policies where these plans and policies are not at present available. The Research Councils would be invited to make available analogous documents in relation to their library and information resources, as would the sponsors of other significant research libraries. The Group believes that such openness will greatly facilitate stable, medium-term collaborative activity (paragraph 17).
56. The Group advocates the formal establishment of a national library retentions policy. The legal desposit libraries should discuss the formation of a national retentions framework with the other libraries which are prepared to accept the consequential long-term commitments.
57. The Funding Councils should invite institutions to consider the potential benefits of making grants available for travel to allow academic staff to visit major libraries for the purposes of scholarship (paragraph 27).
58. The Electronic Libraries Programme should consider what further action may be necessary to develop an integrated system of networked OPACs. Such consideration should include the possibility of recommending to the Funding Councils (or, where appropriate, the Research Councils) that they make resources available to award non-recurrent support on a competitive basis to those key institutions whose participation in a research library network might otherwise be inhibited by their inability to supply OPAC services of the sort described (paragraph 31).
59. The Funding Councils should open negotiations with the British Library and the National Libraries on the possible devolution of some collection responsibilities to higher education institutions, and should consider the initiation of pilot projects in this area (paragraph 32).
60. The Department of National Heritage, and the responsible Departments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, should seek to ensure that every local authority has a nominated library with formal responsibility for negotiating arrangements with the national and other research libraries for the acquisition and preservation of important local research material (paragraph 33).
61. In order to ensure that institutions have satisfactory arrangements for library support for their research, the Funding Councils should require that a summary of how library support is to be provided for an area of assessment is presented as part of an institution's submission in the Research Assessment Exercise. In addition, the Research Councils, British Academy and other sponsors of research and postgraduate students, should, in considering the award of fellowships and studentships, assure themselves that proper library support will be available (paragraph 34).
62. Considerable benefits can arise from collaborative arrangements between libraries in a particular locality. These benefits can be consolidated through the establishment of formal agreements. In particular, the Funding Councils should consider the introduction of a modest non-recurrent incentive fund to facilitate arrangements for the joint administration of libraries (paragraph 37).
63. The Funding Councils should require institutions to provide, as part of the component of their strategic plans which deals with library and related services, an account of the collaborative library arrangements in which they are participating (paragraph 38).
64. The core of a national strategy for research should be access, free at the point of use, for all researchers to collections held in higher education, national and other research libraries. Where enabling this access places significant additional costs on particular libraries, financial recompense should be available for these libraries (paragraph 40 (iii)).
65. The funding of such recompense will be a complex issue. The Group recommends that the Funding Councils should engage a consultancy in order to determine fully the costs and benefits to institutions of a scheme of the sort it is proposing and the way in which these additional costs can be audited and calculated (paragraph 43).
66. The new Library and Information Commission should note the importance to scholars and researchers of preserving the existing research functions of the public libraries (paragraph 45).
67. Following reviews carried out in the light of the 1993 Science White Paper Realising Our Potential, all Research Councils should publish their library and information strategies on library acquisitions, retention and access. The Research Council libraries should also consider building closer collaborative arrangements with other special and academic libraries and resource holdings in their subject field (paragraph 47).
68. The British Library should publish its plans for the collection of grey literature as a consultation paper, and the other National Libraries should also indicate their intended ranges of future holdings. In the light of responses received during the consultation, arrangements should be considered for transferring responsibility for holdings in some specialist subject areas in the way proposed in paragraph 32 which dealt with the preservation of conventional material (paragraph 49).
69. The Electronic Libraries Programme should consider the need to develop arrangements for the collection and preservation of a range of non-print materials, especially digital databases, and the ways in which user access to these data can best be assured. The legal deposit libraries should consult through the Funding Councils with JISC to ensure that their plans for the collection and preservation of non-print material fit with JISC's developing national database strategy. The Group also recommends that JISC should have the prime responsibility for developing national policy in this area. If need be, JISC's membership should be reviewed to ensure that it can carry out this responsibility (paragraph 50).
70. The report should be issued for widespread consultation, following which FIG should form a small group to take forward discussion of its contents with representatives of the CVCP, SCOP, COSHEP, the British Library, the Director General of the Research Councils, the Humanities Research Board of the British Academy and the new Library and Information Commission (paragraph 51).
THIS REPORT MAY BE REPRODUCED BY PHOTOCOPYING FOR CONSULTATION BY INTERESTED PARTIES INSIDE AND OUTSIDE HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS
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