Future of Scientific Libraries

Where will scientific libraries find their future role and relevance in a digitally networked world? This question is revisited with each technological innovation, discussed from the perspective it brings, and placed within the broader context of digitalization. However, technological advancements are not the only factors bringing challenges; global events like the 2020 pandemic also force libraries to reflect. In response, scientific libraries are incorporating the new demands and innovations of the digital age and adopting new technologies to manage scientific information.

But are these reflections and trend adaptations enough to meet the rapidly changing and interconnected needs of research in the digital world? Technological developments relevant to this context are only one aspect. Equally important are the societal processes that govern the use of digital information and tools and evolve alongside society. Changes in research practices are evident, whether in data search or research data management, which has proven its value repeatedly in the research process. A sustainable strategy for managing research data aligns with the interests of research funding as well. To make these resources appealing, easy to use, and sustainable for researchers, networking is necessary on multiple levels. Common standards promote sustainability and interoperability, while shared resources enable collaborative development of more complex solutions across larger communities.

The National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI), currently being developed, aims to establish a comprehensive, research-driven infrastructure. This involves bringing together various individual initiatives and networks in a subject-specific manner or networking them collectively through the NFDI. The NFDI is organized into a series of specialized consortia, each focusing on specific subject areas based on thematic priorities, methods, or types of data. Libraries are ideally positioned to be an integral part of the NFDI, owing to their tradition and role in research. At the same time, their involvement in the NFDI allows libraries to refine their profiles to meet emerging demands in decentralized and digital research. Examples of services provided by libraries in this context include research data management (RDM) and digital long-term storage (LTS), which have been established in libraries as subject-specific services. Libraries' roles can be seen in two core areas: first, they support the broad theme of consultation and mediation. Libraries bring their expertise in advising researchers on their daily work with information and knowledge. Second, libraries also support with concrete services and offers. They can expand their core competencies in curation to the areas of RDM and LTS, which they have demonstrated over the years, for instance, in the context of research data repositories or digital editions.

Future reading:

Kurzawe, Daniel and Stein, Regine. "Aufgabenprofile im Wandel: Bibliotheken in der Nationalen Forschungsdateninfrastruktur" Bibliothek Forschung und Praxis, vol. 48, no. 1, 2024, pp. 138-148. https://doi.org/10.1515/bfp-2024-0002