Sustainable academic libraries in Australia: exploring ‘radical collaborations’ and implications for reference services

Research output: ResearchConference presentation/ephemera


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Sustainability is a major focus in Australian academic libraries, as universities face proposals for significant regulatory change in the higher education sector. The profession has already witnessed new technologies and new service delivery models requiring rapid skills development, process re-engineering and organisational change. Academic libraries deliver increasingly large and diverse service catalogues as new opportunities arise in supporting the changing research and teaching landscapes (ACRL Top Trends 2014). Yet at the same time libraries no longer have sole authority in supporting user’s information needs and must reconsider the value of traditional services, including reference. Across the sector there are increasing calls for ‘radical collaboration’ (Neal, 2010; Anderson, 2011; Wilson, 2012) to meet this ‘challenge of abundance’ (Diaz, 2014). Radical collaborations see the traditional notion of the academic library as an independent, self-sustaining entity set aside, in favour of new relationships between libraries and their communities (Neal, 2010). The purpose may be a shared benefit, a common goal or an intersecting mandate. These new kinds of collaborations are being suggested as the key to developing and planning the workforce of the future (Delaney & Bates, 2014), realigning services to new delivery paradigms (Wilson, 2012) and demonstrating value and impact (Creaser & Spezi, 2014). The University of Western Australia Library has been involved in a number of collaborations with campus partners to enhance services to the University community. Several of these collaborations, one of which is described, now form an important part of the ‘reference’ function, replacing, in part, more traditional services and offering a valuable multi-faceted support structure to students. This paper also reports the results of an exploratory study investigating the nature and prevalence of new kinds of collaborations between Australian academic libraries and their on-campus partners. Responses indicate collaborations are responding to a number of complex challenges, including augmenting traditional reference services.
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - Aug 2015
EventIFLA World Library and Information Congress, 81st IFLA General Conference and Assembly - Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town, South Africa
Duration: 15 Aug 201521 Aug 2015


ConferenceIFLA World Library and Information Congress, 81st IFLA General Conference and Assembly
CountrySouth Africa
CityCape Town

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