The Process of Reinventing Science Librarianship Several speakers put forth ideas about what the science librarian of the near future may look like in terms of skills, capacities, and institutional positioning. Three points of general consensus emerged: first, because scientific research is itself being transformed, science librarians (and their libraries) need to become more adaptable to changing conditions second, in order to understand changing conditions and respond to evolving user needs, science librarians need to focus more on strategies for library service assessment, evaluation, and improvement and finally, the fundamental role of the science librarian needs to expand to incorporate skills related to organizing and manipulating data and data sets. At the outset of the forum, Richard (Rick) Luce emphasized that, in an era of e-science, research libraries need to become nimbler, allowing for more fluid and dynamic allocation of staff resources. Emerging forms of scientific practice will require different kinds of library support at different times. He envisioned future science libraries that have the capacity to create multi-skilled information- management teams on the fly, embedding librarians within research teams or departments. Science libraries must develop more flexible staffing structures in order to be more responsive to the needs of this kind of research. This will, in turn, require highly adaptable science librarians, in terms of both skill set and attitude. Further, as Sayeed Choudhury, Fran Berman, and others suggested, successful adaptability requires a clear sense of direction, and successful direction requires effective application of library service assessment and evaluation procedures. Institutional requirements are diverse, and ever changing. Becky Lyon quipped, “When you’ve seen one research library, you’ve seen one research library.” In other words, in order to know how best to serve one’s own institution, one must understand the particular needs and features of that institution. What works at one research library will not necessarily port directly to another. Still, as Neil Rambo suggested later in the forum, librarians should not let their institutional RLI 262 13 FEBRUARY 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC Reinventing Science Librarianship: Themes from the ARL-CNI Forum ( C O N T I N U E D ) Listen to Rick Luce on the need for more flexible staffing in science libraries (2:00 MP3)
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