Earlier this year, the Gates Foundation Global Libraries program identified the Technology & Social Change Group (TASCHA) — including our collaborators at the US Impact Studies group — as one of three lead legacy partners to carry the work of Global Libraries forward. Working closely with the other lead legacy partners, the Public Library Association (PLA) of the American Library Association and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), TASCHA is expected to lead the work on research and innovation regarding public libraries and the future of libraries. We are busy working with Global Libraries and the other legacy partners on refining what this initiative will entail in the long-term. In the short-term, however, we recently received a grant from the Global Libraries program to begin initial research activities that will both fulfill an important need in the library field and prove critical to laying the research foundation of the legacy partnership initiative.
Called the Research Roadmap for Strengthening the Library Field, this project emerges out of several months of work with a group of leaders in the library field, thinking through issues of impact and research within the global library community. The overarching goal of the Research Roadmap is to bring the data and knowledge about libraries gained over the past 20 years together in one place, providing a solid foundation from which others can move forward with future initiatives, taking advantage of easily accessible existing knowledge. The end result of the project will be a repository of data and research on public libraries, a living collection of current and past projects and data, to help inform the work of researchers and practitioners.
The project will focus on four main activities:
- Developing a portal that will provide interactive access to two dataset collections: (1) existing impact and evaluation projects and (2) best practice services and programs of relevance to the library field
- Publishing short, targeted briefs that highlight significant efforts and data derived from our analysis of the research and datasets, as well as identifying important findings and gaps in the existing body of work that have the potential for broader impact within and outside the library field
- Providing guidelines for research design, data collection, and data publication that will enable more effective integration of future research and datasets
- Creating a platform prototype that will provide user-centered functionalities, specifically the ability to not only find, but to understand, use, integrate, and display data
This project will fill an important need in the library field, bringing together existing data that is easy to access, use, and understand, and distilling the key activities, findings, and any gaps in the body of library research into short, targeted briefs. By providing guidelines for future research and data collection, this project hopes to create a living, sustainable collection into which future research and data can easily be integrated. This project will provide the foundation for future work that can benefit not only researchers and practitioners in the library field, but also help inform policy makers and funders both in and outside of the library field, and eventually communities and individuals that benefit from libraries and library services around the world.
We will provide updates on our Research Roadmap project as the work progresses and the outputs are created. For more information on the Research Roadmap project, please visit the project page.