Working together: library value at the University of Nottingham

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to bring together the findings of two studies investigating the value of academic libraries to teaching and research staff in higher education institutions. The Working Together (WT) project was an international study, funded by SAGE Publishing, investigating the value of academic libraries for teaching and research staff in the USA, UK and Scandinavia. The Raising Academic Impact (RAI) project was an initiative of the University of Nottingham (UoN) aimed at increasing the impact of academic librarians in departments across the university by assessing perception and awareness of current library services and future needs of academic staff. Design/methodology/approach: The WT project was conducted during Spring 2012, comprising a series of eight case studies and an online survey exploring the case study experiences and findings within their wider regional and academic context. One was conducted at the UoN, and included the RAI project. The RAI project was originally a four-phase initiative conducted by academic librarians at the UoN. The first phase, which is reported in this paper, consisted of a survey of teaching and research staff, distributed in summer 2012, investigating awareness, uptake and value of existing services, as well as demand for new library services. Findings: Determining the value of academic libraries is a challenging task as very little evidence (beyond the anecdotal) is collected. Perceptions of library value vary greatly between what librarians think the value of their library is to academic staff and how academic staff actually value their library. Information literacy and study skills teaching are greatly valued by academic staff. Despite current efforts, research support is still limited, owing to a cultural barrier hampering greater collaboration between libraries and academic staff in this area. Communication and marketing are keys to increase the value of academic libraries to teaching and research staff. Originality/value: This paper presents the key findings from the two studies in parallel. It is anticipated that these discoveries will be of interest to the wider library community to help libraries develop services which are closely linked to the needs of teaching and academic staff. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.