DLF Funds Project on Business Cases for New Service Development

DLF has awarded $50,000 to fund research on business cases for new service development in research libraries.

The project will develop guidance for academic libraries seeking to support innovative services such as publishing and data management activities on their campuses.

Librarians from four universities and OCLC will investigate business-planning literature and study established publishing and data curation services. The project will result in a series of publications, to be published between fall 2011 and August 2012, that will suggest a model for the business planning of new ventures and services. The model will help libraries determine whether a new service is feasible and, if so, how to make a persuasive case for the resources required.

“Libraries have vast expertise in structuring and managing data, and knowledge about how readers connect to published products,” said Mike Furlough of Penn State University.

“As scholarly publishing and scientific research evolve, we have seen new directives from the NIH and other government agencies requiring that researchers give considered thought to the future life of research products of many types,” said Furlough. “We see important roles for libraries in support of our researchers, but only if our community can build and sustain these types of programs.”

The project team also includes Theodore Fons, OCLC; Carol Hunter, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Elizabeth Kirk, Dartmouth College; and Michele Reid, North Dakota State University. The team formed out of the 2010 Senior Fellows Program at University of California, Los Angeles, a professional development program for senior level academic librarians sponsored by the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and led by Beverly Lynch.

Judy Luther, president of Informed Strategies, will advise the project and facilitate discussions as the team analyzes the relevant literature, develops a model, selects case study candidates, digests outcomes, and shapes a final report.

The team hopes that the lessons learned will be applicable to other library service areas. “In today’s economic and information environment, we must be able to analyze and justify every service we offer and become more comfortable with evaluating potential new service areas,” said Hunter. “This method and our conclusions will provide a model for doing that.”

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