Role of the Research Library

The roles played by research libraries are continually changing: for their users, within their institutions, and amongst their communities. RLUK works with its members to support and advocate for the diverse roles of the research library as places of experimentation, their role as partners and pioneers in the research process, and as catalysts for change within society and scholarship.

RLUK convenes high-profile events and programmes through which the role of research libraries as key elements of research infrastructure can be demonstrated and presented to cross-sector audiences of professionals, researchers, decision-makers, and funders, this include the annual RLUK Conference and the RLUK Space Programme and Digital Shift Forum event series.

Our partnerships are helping to advocate for the changing role of the research library within the research ecosystem. This includes our work with AHRC on the Libraries as Partners in Research scoping study, the Professional Practice Fellowships Scheme, the Research Engagement Programme, and the Research Catalyst Cohort Programme. RLUK is also a signatory of the Technician Commitment, in recognition of the contribution that research libraries and their staff can make to scholarship as places of technical expertise and innovation.

We are also working with partners on the cross-sectoral Emerging Leaders project, to help develop a programme to address the lack of ethnic diversity within the library workforce, particularly in management and leadership positions.

Through IARLA (International Alliance of Research Library Associations) we work with our international counterparts to amplify the role of research libraries internationally and coordinate joint advocacy where possible.


William Nixon


Ed Fay

Diane Job

Kate Price

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RLUK Networks

RLUK’s Networks explore areas of professional or strategic interest to members, and work closely with the Board and Executive to deliver RLUK’s strategic objectives.

The Role of the Research Library strategic strand is supported by:

The Associate Directors Network (ADN) is a professional peer forum for discussion, knowledge sharing and development. It harnesses the collective experience, expertise and ambition of its members.

The New Directors Network (NDN) is a professional-peer network for RLUK colleagues who have recently been appointed as library directors, those in interim positions as library directors, or for those who have recently joined an RLUK member as a library director.

Related events

Related reports

The role of academic and research libraries as active participants and leaders in the production of scholarly research

The report provides a detailed overview of the current role of academic and research libraries as partners and leaders of research, their potential to enhance these roles, and the barriers they might face in doing so.

The report has 10 headline findings and makes 13 far-reaching recommendations for libraries, members of the academic community, parent organisations, RLUK, and the AHRC.

Equality, diversity, and inclusion in the research library. An analysis of RLUK institutions’ job descriptions.

This piece of focused research aimed to investigate how issues around equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are represented in the job descriptions of RLUK member institutions as well as how libraries apply EDI values to their recruitment practices. It also looked at whether new roles, including leadership positions, are being created to drive EDI initiatives and contribute towards culture change within institutions. Finally, the representation of EDI initiatives and roles amongst RLUK members was placed within an international context through a comparison to initiatives being undertaken by US and Canadian research libraries.