The Irish Research electronic Library initiative – levelling the playing field?
Dunne, Siobhan (2008) The Irish Research electronic Library initiative – levelling the playing field? Library Management, 29 (8). pp. 757-769. ISSN 0143-5124
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Purpose - The Irish Research electronic Library (IReL) is a nationally funded electronic research library providing online access to full text articles from thousands of peer-reviewed publications in a range of disciplines. This paper examines the opportunities that have arisen for academic libraries at a local level in terms of how they expose resources and promote the initiative. It discusses the challenges that have arisen as libraries enhance, or indeed introduce, value added services to their research community. It examines the results of an in-depth national survey which yielded invaluable insights into how Irish researchers were using library services. Finally, it reflects on the challenges libraries face in facilitating and nurturing research behaviour.
Design/methodology/approach – In the first quarter of 2007, seven university libraries asked their researchers for feedback on how they use IReL resources and their awareness of the initiative in the form of a national survey. These results and in particular the feedback from DCU researchers are further analysed. Focus groups and visits to research centres also provided more in-depth analysis.
Findings- This paper finds that a collaborative approach to the negotiation of a single national licence for seven academic libraries, with associated training and a discount for consortium contracts has been highly successful. However, it has also posed significant challenges for all libraries in terms of ensuring that the resources are fully exploited and that the necessary support structures are in place to facilitate the provision of appropriate services to the growing research community.
Originality/Value –This paper will be useful to libraries planning services for fourth level researchers and in particular, services that promote access to online resources.
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