Follett Report

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 advantage.

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 pressures.
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.

Library Resources

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 clearly identified.
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 financial savings.
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 within it.
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 the UK.
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.

Information Technology

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

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