By Heather F. Ball, Beth Black, and Raymond Pun
2018 was an interesting year that saw big shifts in librarians’ responsibilities with interesting developments in open access, makerspaces, and virtual and augmented reality services. The rise of blockchain and artificial intelligence are also being heavily discussed across the field now—but what will 2019 bring? Three academic librarians offered up the following conversation to explore potential FYE and academic librarianship trends for 2019 and beyond.
What is one FYE trend that should continue to expand in 2019?
Beth: I hope the trend of connecting library instruction and services to high impact practices continues. The more integrated resources are with each other across a college or university, the easier it is for students to connect with them, ultimately supporting student success.
Ray: I agree with Beth and I see more community-based research assignments within the FYE space. These research projects can include campus sustainability, local news/media, or service-learning across the disciplines. They may also foster students’ sense of belonging with the campus and increase student retention overall. There needs to be more focus on local issues so that students can draw on the connection between what they are experiencing with what’s going on nationally/internationally. Campus sustainability research is one example that can foster deep learning and interdisciplinary collaboration between libraries and academic programs in local contexts.
Heather: I think the practice of promoting and developing mobile tech that helps to ease the students into their first semester should continue to expand. At my university, we have a suite of mobile apps geared toward enhancing the research experience for undergraduates, particularly first-years. One is a wayfinding app that uses beacon technology to guide you through the stacks to your book, the other is a research help app that walks you through the steps of starting a research paper, complete with in-app citation tools, self-evaluation criteria, and the opportunity to send your work to a librarian in order to start a conversation on your topic.
Can you give a prediction of an emerging trend in academic librarianship for 2019?
Ray: I sense that artificial intelligence will enter the public service spaces where devices and bots can provide support for library users in unanticipated ways. AI might disrupt how we provide information services to users online/in-person by accelerating the research processes or by generating cost-effective measures. New ideas will emerge from various library case studies to demonstrate how AI can serve as a research partner with those working in the frontlines. The research will also discuss the biases coming from AI and its algorithms. These issues will make for an interesting discourse in academic libraries.
Heather: I think we will see a growing number of emerging technologies being integrated into academic libraries on a more accelerated and widespread rate than in the past. As the tech savviness of GenZ students grows, so does their expectation that those advances in tech will be built into their college experience. The library offers a perfect crossroads for things like makerspaces, 3D printing, and AI integration, so I think libraries will start to capitalize on that opportunity in 2019.
Beth: Librarians will increasingly be involved with sophomore student programs. In just the last 10 years, many colleges and universities have created new programs focusing on the needs of second-year students. These programs offer valuable opportunities to extend library instruction and outreach.
What are you most looking forward to in 2019?
Heather: I am looking forward to continuing the engagement events I’ve started in our library, particularly the De-Stress Fests held in collaboration with Student Wellness during midterms and finals. By giving the students a chance to “de-stress” and relax, we can show them that the library is more than just a quiet and solitary place to study but can be seen as a place to engage with their peers as well as their librarians. It also helps to emphasize that we care about their success at college holistically, not just academically.
Beth: I am looking forward to welcoming colleagues to my home state of Ohio for the ACRL conference. Cleveland is a great city with strong and innovative libraries, including the five-star Cleveland Public and Cuyahoga County Library Systems.
Ray: 2018 ended so fast! For 2019, I am looking forward to co-designing a new writing/research assessment rubric with colleagues from the graduate writing center to assess graduate students’ learning and identifying ways to enhance our graduate education curriculum and services collaboratively!
Heather F. Ball is an Assistant Professor and Student Success Librarian at St. John’s University. She holds an MLS with dual certificate in Preservation and Archives, as well as an MLitt and Bachelor’s in Medieval Studies. She sits on several committees for the Library and University, as well as being elected to ACRL’s ULS Membership Committee. Her research interests include qualitative and quantitative data analysis, assessment measures, information literacy instruction, digitization and encoding of historical manuscripts, Geoffrey of Monmouth, and twelfth-century Britain.
Beth Black is the undergraduate engagement librarian and an associate professor at The Ohio State University. She helps undergraduates learn about how the library supports their success through integration of library information and resources in a variety of student experiences. She focuses on first- and second-year students, working closely with Ohio State’s award-winning First Year Experience and Second-year Transformational Experience Program (STEP).