On our Digital Campus podcast, Tom Scheinfeldt, Mills Kelly, and I have been talking a lot about the growing disconnect between students and faculty who are increasingly using software and services, such as web email and Google Docs, that are not the university’s “officially supported” (and often quite expensive to buy, maintain, and support) software and services. In Roger C. Schonfeld and Kevin M. Guthrie, “The Changing Information Services Needs of Faculty” (EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 42, no. 4 (July/August 2007): 8–9), the authors note another possible disconnect on campus:
In the future, faculty expect to be less dependent on the library and increasingly dependent on electronic materials. By contrast, librarians generally think their role will remain unchanged and their responsibilities will only grow in the future. Indeed, over four-fifths of librarians believe that the role of the library as the starting point or gateway for locating scholarly information will be very or extremely important in five years, a decided mismatch with faculty views.
Perceptions of a decline in dependence are probably unavoidable as services are increasingly being provided remotely, and in some ways, these shifting faculty attitudes can be viewed as a sign of the library’s success. The mismatch in views on the gateway function is somewhat more troubling: if librarians view this function as critical but faculty in certain disciplines see it as declining in importance, how can libraries, individually or collectively, strategically realign the services that support the gateway function?