MIT Report – Future of Libraries

Summary Prepared by ILINA ATANASOVSKA
Intern Assistant to the President
Triple Helix Association


Information sharing, knowledge advancements, and facilitating connections, have always been at the core of libraries. Due to the rapid and continuous transformation of the ways in which the researchers and scholars are collecting, accessing, and disseminating data, information and research results, the MIT Libraries (specifically, the Director of the MIT Libraries Chris Bourg) implemented a Task Force regarding the Future of Libraries. The purpose of this Task Force was seeking a broad involvement from the MIT community and field experts, in order to identify how the MIT Libraries can reach advancement in the creation, dissemination, and the preservation of knowledge, as well as becoming a leader in the reinvention of libraries.

The MIT Libraries are perceived as an open global platform, supported by innovative approaches in the community and relationships, the discovery and use, as well as stewardship and sustainability. All this is informed and enabled by an extended highlighting of the research and development. In order to gather the necessary data and recommendations regarding the core concepts of the new vision for the Libraries, the Task Force was organized into three different workshop groups, which were stressing out the four different (but related) sets of issues – Community and Relationships; Discovery and Use; Stewardship and Sustainability; and Research and Development.

As a result, the Task Force provided ten different recommendations, regarding the above-mentioned issues:

  • The MIT Libraries should serve global audiences, including the current affiliated circle of students, faculty and staff, as well as global community of scholars, MIT alumni, the Local Cambridge and Boston Community and MIT’s classes participants.
  • Renovation and redesigning of the Libraries’ physical spaces and creating a planning group in making specific recommendations regarding the redesign. Thus, the new ideas for the renovation should be transparent and inclusive. Accordingly, the aim of the Institute regarding this recommendation is remaining open to the public, promoting a full range of scholarly and community functions, hence inspiring the MIT community in new ways of thinking about the library spaces.
  • Developing and providing educational opportunities in providing community members with vital skills and habits in critical and effective usage of information.
    Becoming a reliable channel for circulating MIT research globally and increasing the efforts to a more comprehensive way of collecting, innovatively describing and openly circulating information to the MIT scholars and scholarships, which will help in supporting the mission and value of openness.
  • Expanding the capacity for acquiring and making available the born-digital content to provide comprehensive digital access (supporting a variety of uses and diverse reading and learning styles) to the content in the libraries’ collections that are required by the MIT global community.
  • Generating open, interoperable content platforms that will identify new ways of producing, using sharing and preserving knowledge and that will promote new methods for discovering and organizing information, people, ideas and networks, through interdisciplinary institutional and external partnerships.
  • Performing a Task Force on Open Science, which will review the current implementation of the MIT Faculty Access Policy and the further plans for expanding the current Open Access policies and practices, as well as expanding the Institute’s mission of circulating its research and scholarships as broadly as possible.
  • Since a large amount of the research performed by MIT is published directly on MIT websites or in third-party repositories, much of the research is inaccessible due to link rot and this leads to a loss of valuable research. Therefore, the third-party repositories are not always the best solution, since they are merged with some of the large market actors, such as Elsevier (the largest journal publisher), which acquired Mendeley, SSRN and Hivebench, furthermore John Wiley and Sons, Inc. which purchased Atypon (leading provider of journal publishing software and platforms), EBSCO which purchased YBP, and lastly ProQuest which purchased Ex Libris.
  • A recommendation in avoiding the above-mentioned issues is serving as a lasting, reliable source for the research produced at MIT and the metadata associated with the scholars and scholarship, through its archival programs and practices, in order to achieve a continuation of the MIT mission to serve as the “Institute’s memory” and record of research and learning.
  • Active involvement and the provision of leadership to converge global efforts in developing feasible models and systems about the long-term stewardship and sustainable protection of digital research. This will help in avoiding the issues regarding the scholars’ limited ability to implicitly and usefully access data, information, systems many years after its creation.
  • Lastly, establishing an Initiative for Research on Information Science and Scholarly Communication based in the MIT Libraries, which will assist in enabling bold experimentation, as well as serving as a hub for best-in-class research on the major challenges in information science and scholarly communication.

The four mentioned themes – Community and Relationships, Discovery and Use, Stewardship and Sustainability, and Research and Development, are the pillars of the open platform that the MIT Libraries are seeking to build. The openness of the platform and the commitment to an interactive, responsive, and collaborative library are expressed in the call to “hack the library”. The success and achievement of the vision for the MIT Libraries depends on the creative ways of exploiting the resources, tools, services, spaces, and expertise in solving the world’s greatest challenges.





Published by the Triple Helix Association  –  ISSN 2281-4515


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