Prospects: a strategy for action
Library and Information Research, Development
and Innovation in the United Kingdom - Proposals for consultation
Library and Information Commission Research Committee, November 1997
The role of the Library and Information Commission
- The strategic role of the Commission is indicated by its overall remit from the government, which is :
- to provide a national focus of expertise in the field of library and information services. The Research Committee represents England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- to provide a single coherent source of advice to Government: the Library and Information Commission has sought the views of key stakeholders and special interest groups within the library and information community,
- to draw the Government's attention to emerging issues and to suggest appropriate responses to them: this strategy aims to provide a coherent framework for research which enables library and information services to support the challenges of those initiatives and to develop innovative services to lead the field,
- and to provide advice on the basis of as full a process of consultation within the library and information community as necessary and as time allows.
- The role of the Library and Information Commission is an overarching strategic one which for the first time explicitly includes engagement with government and highlights issues such as information technology, co-ordination and the avoidance of duplication.
- The Library and Information Commission also recognises that there are certain strategic initiatives in the field of information, which transcend the library and information services field. The Library and Information Commission will therefore consult and work with other sectors as necessary.
- We propose therefore that the Library and Information Commission will concern itself primarily with policy, initiatives and research at strategic level, subject always to the availability of funds.
The role of the British Library Research and Innovation Centre
- Responsibility for management of library and information services research at a national and strategic level has rested with the British Library Research and Innovation Centre by virtue of the fact that resource allocation has largely been vested there. The Centre, formerly the British Library Research and Development Department, has been highly successful and much envied in other countries. It is the intention of the Library and Information Commission to support and encourage the Centre's continuing role in management of library and information services research and in supporting national research activity at a strategic level.
- The Library and Information Commission and the British Library Research and Innovation Centre are in full agreement, as a result of collaboration and consultation during the development of this strategy, that the programme laid out in Section 4 will be the framework around which the Centre will plan much of its future work to support library and information services research.
- We propose that the Centre will continue to have responsibility for near-market research and for speculative research. While the Library and Information Commission's programme will be primarily implemented through strategy-led calls for proposals, the provision for consideration of unsolicited research bids will remain with the Centre as at present.
- The British Library Research and Innovation Centre also manages the British National Bibliography Research Fund which awards grants for small projects in the book and information worlds. The Centre also works closely with the National Preservation Office and the university sector in funding research on the preservation of library and archive materials. It is also collaborating closely with the Society of Chief Librarians on a programme of public library research. These programmes will continue to be managed alongside the Research Programme.
- Close liaison with the Director and staff of the British Library Research and Innovation Centre throughout the development of this strategy will need to be developed into a more formal relationship.
The role of other organisations
- The importance of other organisations, in endorsing this strategy and in contributing towards its implementation, has been acknowledged in statements throughout these proposals. Organisations include particularly the national library councils (the Advisory Council on Libraries, the Scottish Library and Information Council and the Library and Information Services Councils for Wales and Northern Ireland) and others in the library and information field, in the general research community, and those which fund and set policies affecting library and information services and research activity.
- In particular, we recognise the importance of the British Association for Information and Library Education and Research (BAILER) as an influence on library and information science research. It is therefore proposed to develop more formal relationships between the Research Committee and BAILER. It is envisaged that the proposals for the research programme and for infrastructure development will be the focus and framework of both formal and informal collaboration.