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Libraries have been one of the great wonders of the world dating back to the third century before the common era in Alexandria. They have been important for civilisations and learning institutions for many reasons not the least of which has been the diffusion of knowledge and advances in scholarship. That position is unlikely to change now or in the future although the role of the library and librarians may change.

A recent publication from the New Media Consortium (NMC) is fascinating reading. The NMC Horizion Report – 2014 Library Edition ‘examines key trends, significant challenges, and emerging technologies for their impact on academic and research libraries’ (p. ii).

The report about academic and research libraries is divided into three sections:
• Trends accelerating technology adoption,
• Challenges impeding technology adoption, and
• Important developments in technology.

This thought provoking and timely report is excellent reading and provides a reflection on the adoption of technology and the emerging environments of learning, research and scholarship with technology.

The report does attempt to predict important developments in technology such as publishing, apps, bibliometrics, citations, the internet of things, the semantic web and linked data, all within specified timeframes. However, the really crucial aspect of the report is the section on the challenges that libraries and librarians face as digital technologies advance in functionality and application to teaching and learning.

There are some real challenges ahead. How to make libraries central to the curriculum, and how to capture the digital outputs of research as collection materials, as well as grey literature collections and access will require extensive deliberations and innovative experiments. These challenges may also alter the role of the librarians to become specialists in research methods and subject disciplines, states the report, (p. 22) moving beyond the traditional role of collection managers. The role of librarians as collaboration leaders across universities and schools will become essential as open source, online classroom tools are developed (p. 23) and the boundaries between disciplines blur.

This report NMC Horizion Report – 2014 Library Edition is more than thought-provoking and is indispensable reading for educational leaders in that libraries may hold the key to the future of scholarship as technology advances, if the report is correct. This report is essential reading for leaders of  teaching and learning institutions which value the impact of scholarship with their students and researchers.

This article was first published on the Australian Council for Educational Research's Digital Education Research Network 2 (DERN) and is reproduced here in whole, courtesy of DERN.

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2014
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