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Museum pieces? The role and value of national museum libraries in the digital age

Williams, RN; (2017) Museum pieces? The role and value of national museum libraries in the digital age. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis examines how national museum libraries are planning to respond over the next decade to the strategic challenges and opportunities they are facing as a result of socio-technological changes that are occurring during the digital age. The study adopts a pragmatic philosophical approach and uses an explanatory sequential mixed-methods research design. The research consists of a two round Delphi survey, which was distributed to two hundred national museum libraries across forty countries, and seven case studies, which were undertaken across five countries. The case studies are comprised of semi-structured interviews with library managers and users, and document analysis of library strategies and policies. The results are presented as thematic conclusions and possible future scenarios. The research shows that many library managers have a clearly defined sense of their libraries' roles, values, and future strategic priorities. However, there is a lack of consensus concerning strategic positioning, with some seeking to augment internal museum support and others aiming to increase public engagement. Collection development is set to remain predominantly print focused, with acquisition of electronic resources likely to develop gradually. This position contrasts with libraries in other sectors, notably academic libraries, where the print to digital change process is typically occurring more rapidly. Similarly, utilisation of digital technologies that support service provision and content delivery will take place in a highly selective and planned manner. Most library users have a positive outlook about their national museum libraries. They particularly value the specialist nature of the collections, the subject knowledge of library staff, and opportunities for scholarly collaboration. However, there are concerns about collection discoverability and library communication. The research findings point towards three possible future scenarios for national museum libraries - internally focused consolidation, externally focused commercialisation, and mixed economy contradistinction. Each offers plausible options for strategic planning over the next decade.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Museum pieces? The role and value of national museum libraries in the digital age
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: National museum libraries, Museum libraries, National museums, Digital age, Role of libraries, Value of libraries, Mixed-methods, Delphi survey, Case studies, Scenarios
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > VP International
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > VP International > UCL - Qatar
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1569619
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