Digital technologies heavily impact society, higher education and the workplace. As information service providers, research libraries are particularly affected by these changes. This manifesto outlines what actions the community of Research Libraries in the UK (RLUK) proposes to undertake to be ready for the next decade of the Digital Shift, building on work already underway across the sector. It is an open invitation to other organisations and communities, whether from the library sector or not, to work with us. Research libraries are strongly positioned to lead and influence the effective exploitation of digital technologies within their institutions, and we are keen to unlock the potential which the Digital Shift offers.
Twenty years ago, print journals and card catalogues were still featured in research libraries. Today, scholarly journals are (largely) electronic, with discovery and access often bypassing library catalogues. Open science and digital research are actively supported in many libraries. Twenty years from now, subscription-funded access may be the exception and library catalogues could well have ceased to exist as distinct entities as research will be built on new workflows and platforms. To prepare for these developments, research libraries need a programme of change for the coming decade.
In 2030, UK research libraries will be an integral part of the local and global knowledge environment. We will offer environmentally sustainable, inclusive services that enable a diverse set of users to identify and use trusted knowledge resources from all over the world. Our open research and digital scholarship services will enable seamless and persistent sharing and reuse of research outputs. Library staff will be increasingly recognised experts in (digital) research methods and valued partners in the research process, even leading in some fields. Print collections will be as easy to discover as our digital ones, and we will provide digital and physical spaces that meet researchers’ needs. Libraries will have mastered the use of artificial intelligence technologies, integrated into technology platforms that are open and transparent, built on sustainable and ethical principles.
In order to fully benefit from the Digital Shift, we need: