Chapter 1 - Summary of Conclusions
- This chapter summarises the Review Group's general conclusions.
These are developed in more detail in the chapters which follow, which
contain a number of detailed recommendations. These in turn are
summarised in chapter eight.
- This report does not attempt a comprehensive survey of library and
related provision nor of all the many current issues. It concentrates on
making recommendations to the funding councils and to institutions which
are practical and likely to achieve maximum benefit. It is founded on an
assessment of likely changes over the next five to ten years, and an
appreciation of the enormous diversity of library and related provision
within higher education.
- The Group has been aware of the inevitable tensions between a
radical forward looking approach on the one hand, and the need to
maintain a healthy realism and proper allowance for diversity on the
other. In finding a balance, the Group has focused on the need for major
change and its proposals reflect this. These are however intended to
build on the many existing strengths and the substantial achievements to
date of libraries in higher education.
Libraries and Information Provision in HE
- Libraries have achieved much in recent years. They play, and will
continue to play, a central part in meeting the information needs of
students, teachers, and researchers in higher education: it is
impossible to imagine any university or llege functioning effectively
without a good library service. However, ts in information technology
and other changes affecting information provision an that higher
education institutions (HEIs) need to reassess the position of raries
and librarians and their functions, clarify their objectives, and
resources to enable these to be met.
- Most important, there needs to be a sea-change in the way
institutions plan d provide for the information needs of those working
within them. The view of the learning, and research is no longer
adequate. Information is now available gh many different media, and in
all manner of locations. Depending on history, ography and the resources
available, more or less of this material may be le in the "library", but
it is no longer possible for any single "library" alone to contain it
all. The emphasis is shifting towards information and information ccess.
This has profound and far reaching implications, and all institutions
act to ensure that they are in a position to deal with these to best
The Current Position
- The Review Group's work has revealed a situation where libraries
are under siderable pressure, and there are serious shortfalls in space
and materials in ny areas. Given the importance of library and
information services to the ve delivery of teaching and research, urgent
action is required if increasingly evere problems are to be avoided.
This report makes recommendations which are igned to address these
- Over the last decade, libraries have faced new and changed demands
as a t, in particular, of substantial growth in student numbers, rapid
inflation in e costs of printed materials, and the added opportunities -
and costs - to which information technology (IT) has given rise. The
scale of these developments has een such that funding has not kept pace
with them. These difficulties must be kled with additional resources,
while further investment is also required if the full potential of
developments in IT is to be realised.
- In addition to the needs of undergraduates, a reassessment is
required of the particular needs of researchers, and how, in the light
of recent developments, braries can contribute to meeting these.
Relevant developments include in lar the inflation of periodical prices
substantially in excess of the Retail e Index; greater selectivity in
the funding of research by the HEFCs; and the ernment's recent decision
not to set up a Humanities Research Council.
- It should be emphasised that most libraries in higher education
institutions ave coped well with an increasingly difficult environment
in recent years. education institutions in the UK also house many fine
libraries of national and international distinction. Maintaining
existing excellence, alongside continuing improvements, is a principal
objective of this Report.
The Management of the Library in the Institution
- Libraries and those responsible for managing them combine a range
of t functions (academic, service and managerial) and institutions
should make the ost of their library staff, ensuring they are fully
involved in all decision ng which affects the management of information.
Librarians themselves should not allow their professional identity to
isolate them from other aspects of onal management.
- All institutions should develop a clear strategy for meeting the
information needs of their students and staff. They should take account
of developments in formation technology, in the organisation of teaching
and learning, and in ch provision, as well as the organisational
arrangements which govern the 's place within the institution.
- There are great differences between libraries in HEIs, reflecting
the different backgrounds and distinctive aims of each institution. As a
result there is no single management or resource allocation model which
can be held up as a blue-print, although there are elements of good
practice on which all can draw. Each institution should carefully review
its own arrangements; and the Report makes a series of detailed
recommendations which cover strategic planning, the need for effective
integration between library services and other aspects of the management
and planning of institutions, staff management and development,
purchasing policy and practice, quality assessment, and the use of a
generic set of performance indicators for libraries. These are aimed
primarily at institutions themselves, but also require action from the
funding councils. It is equally important that staff responsible for
library and information services should receive effective and
appropriate training. The Review Group commissioned a study of this
area, which is being published separately, and which makes Group
recommends that these should be referred to the CVCP and SCOP as the
representative bodies best placed to decide how to act on them.
- Funding council support for library provision for teaching and
research should continue to be channelled through block grant. It is the
responsibility of each HEI to make proper provision for the library
needs of its students and staff from within the resources available.
This places a particular responsibility on institutional management to
deploy these resources effectively. It underlines the importance of good
strategic management of library and information services, clear and
explicit assessment of users' fective liaison between teaching staff and
library managers at all levels, and the need to take account of library
provision in quality assessment.
- In almost all HEIs, the proportion of total recurrent spending
devoted to library provision has declined in the last decade. There are
many reasons for this. Of itself, the trend need not necessarily be
undesirable, and libraries have responded to the same drive for
increased productivity and efficiency which has affected other aspects
of higher education in recent years. However, there is clear evidence of
pressure on space for readers and spending on materials has fallen at a
faster rate than is sustainable given the expansion of student numbers
and of research activity.
- Given the heterogeneity of institutions and libraries in higher
education, the Review Group cannot sensibly prescribe norms relating to
levels of spending on individual libraries. Spending will vary according
to local circumstances, but the Group does recommend that all
institutions should review their level of spending on libraries, assess
whether adequate resources are being made available to meet identified
needs, and reassess the methods for determining such decisions.
- Spending on staff accounts for over half the total spend in
libraries in most institutions. The Review Group noted however a
significant degree of variation in spending on staff, and each
institution should review its deployment of resources between staff and
other areas of library spending, to ensure that value for money is each
area of expenditure Library Provision in Support of Teaching
- Libraries play a central role in support of teaching and learning
across all subject areas. Recent developments in the organisation of
teaching and learning have often increased the range of demands placed
on libraries, as have changes in the profile of the undergraduate
population, with growing proportions of mature and part-time students.
In these circumstances institutions must ensure that the needs of
library users are clearly assessed and that effective mechanisms are in
place for meeting them. In particular, liaison between the library and
teaching staff must be improved, and their respective responsibilities
- The serious pressure on space in libraries is illustrated by the
fact that while student numbers have grown by about 70 per cent in the
last seven years, across institutions as a whole space for readers has
increased by only a few per cent. Institutions must seek to make the
best use of available space, and should consider, for example, how far
longer opening hours and the development of high density storage
arrangements could help to reduce pressure. They should take specific
action where appropriate.
- Such measures will nonetheless have only a modest impact on space
shortages. The funding councils should therefore support a programme to
build, remodel, or otherwise adapt space for library use. The Group
hopes that the funding councils will be able to give this programme high
priority in allocating whatever capital resources they have available.
- The Review Group estimates that the total cost of meeting the need
for additional library space across the UK HE sector arising from growth
in student numbers between 1988-89 and 1992-93 is approximately 140
million. Details of how this estimate has been arrived at are provided
in annex D. Institutions as a whole should be expected to find two
thirds of this sum, with the remainder (approximately 50 million) being
provided in the form of earmarked capital grants by the funding
councils. The precise balance of funding for each individual project
will however vary.
- Notwithstanding the prime responsibility of individual institutions
to provide for the library needs of their own staff and students, there
is scope in some cases for them to discharge this responsibility through
collaborative arrangements with other institutions or groups of
institutions. Such co-operation may take many different forms, but there
is often particular scope in metropolitan areas where several
institutions are geographically close. The Review Group has identified
factors which can promote successful collaboration of this kind and
proposes investment by the funding councils of 500,000 over three years
in a competitive bidding exercise to provide incentives to gements. It
should be recognised however that in most cases the main benefits of
such co-operation lie in improvements in services rather than direct
- The role of libraries in underpinning teaching and learning should
be recognised much more explicitly in the assessments of teaching
quality undertaken by the funding councils, and in the work of the
Higher Education Quality Council. Several specific recommendations are
made concerning this.
Library Provision in Support of Research
- Provision of library facilities in support of research across the
newly unified higher education sector is very uneven. Even within the
former Universities Funding Council (UFC) sector, there was always
considerable variation in how far institutional libraries provided
support for researchers in depth and across a full range of disciplines.
There is a considerable concentration of research related library
facilities in certain institutions, and use of these facilities by
researchers from outside these institutions is common. Increasing
selectivity in the distribution of research funding by the councils,
coupled with rapid rates of inflation in the price of periodicals and
books, mean that it is not feasible to expect every institution to be
able to provide for all the research related needs of those working
- In these circumstances, whilst institutional libraries must
continue to be primarily responsible for ensuring that the basic library
needs of their researchers are met, there are opportunities for the
development of a more strategic approach, to promote co-operation and
more sharing of certain facilities, and to supplement those facilities
which are available at each individual institution.
- This Report makes three recommendations to promote this. First, the
funding should set aside up to 10 million a year of their research
funding to distribute recurrently outside the main formulaic allocation
to support the additional costs of specialised research collections
widely used by researchers across the system as a whole. This initiative
is particularly aimed at securing provision related to research in the
humanities, and it should form part of the councils' response to the
Government's decision not to create a research council for the
humanities. In return for such funding, host institutions would be
required to provide free access to all bona fide researchers from within
- Second, non formulaic funding of 1.1 million each should continue
to be provided to the two legal deposit libraries of Oxford and
Cambridge, again in return for allowing free access to researchers from
within the UK higher education community.
- Third, a more strategic approach to providing library facilities in
support of research in all subjects needs to be developed involving both
higher education institutions and other providers of research oriented
library and information services. In the first instance, a working group
composed of senior representatives of higher education institutions, the
funding councils, the British Library, the national libraries of
Scotland and Wales, the British Academy, and the Research Councils
should be established to develop this proposal further. It should report
to its sponsoring bodies within a year.
- Recent developments (an outline of these developments, and an
explanation of the technical terms mentioned in the next paragraph, may
be found in Chapter 8) in information technology present major
opportunities and challenges for academic libraries. The Group has
devoted much attention to how information technology can help to meet
the needs of library users and library management over the next decade.
It is g councils should jointly invest 20 million over three years in
support of a series of development projects designed to further the use
of IT in selective areas. Most of these recommendations would be
implemented within a IT oriented libraries initiative under the auspices
of the funding councils' Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC).
This would run for a finite period and would be guided by an expert
advisory group and supported by a programme co-ordinator.
- This investment should include the development of standards, pilot
projects to demonstrate the potential of on-demand publishing and
electronic document and article delivery, a feasibility project to
promote the development of electronic journals in conjunction with
relevant publishing interests, the development of a database and dataset
strategy, investment in navigational tools, retrospective conversion of
certain catalogues, and investment in the further development of library
automation and management systems. The exploitation of IT is essential
to create the effective library service of the future.
- Issues relating to copyright are frequently cited as posing
difficulties both for publishers and others keen to protect the
legitimate rights of copyright holders, and also for librarians and
users who wish to make the most of new technology in the management of
information. It is in everyone's interests that developments take place
to realise the enormous potential of new technology without infringing
copyright laws, and the Group recommends a practical pilot project
involving both publishers and higher education institutions which will
demonstrate how such developments can be taken forward.
Copyright ©1993 Joint Funding Council