Why libraries should preserve the scholarly record

The biggest issue facing library technical services is preserving the scholarly record, says Keith Webster, Dean of Libraries at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA while he spoke at Sharjah International Book Fair Library Conference.

The scholarly record is the official letters of what matters in a discipline. In year’s past, the scholarly record used to be well defined: journals, reference materials, bibliographies, etc.  Technical services had a proper place in all of it.  

Today the scholarly record is ill defined. It is partly those journals and reference materials. But also encompasses the process of research: questionnaires, data dictionaries, research data, lab books, etc. In short, the process of research became part of the scholarly record. 

The capturing, organizing and storing this information is now in the library’s hands. Yet these items remain scattered.  They reside in places like social media, journal publisher sites, sites like Arvix, local repositories, researchers’ computers, etc. So, they remain scattered but at the same time they could be connected via the internet. 

The scholarly record now includes a grey area between published and non-published works. Libraries must return to capturing, organizing and preserving the scholarly record, or we will lose parts of it.  This will be the work of tech services: how to keep the formal scholarly record attached to the informal.