2016 top trends and issues in Jamaican academic libraries

Publication Date09 January 2017
AuthorSasekea Harris
SubjectLibrary & information science,Librarianship/library management,Library & information services
2016 top trends and issues in
Jamaican academic libraries
Sasekea Harris
Library, University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica
Purpose Biennially, the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American
Library Association, publishes a report on the top trends and issues affecting academic libraries in higher
education. Harris (2016) used the trends and issues reported by the ACRL to inform a document and thematic
analysis of publications written on Jamaican academic librarianship 2010-2016, to investigate the trends and
issues in Jamaican academic librarianship. Harris’ (2016) paper however noted that a survey of the chief
librarian in each library, regarding their perceptions of the trends and issues would be a useful follow-up to her
study, and cited this as a limitation/implication of her paper. The purpose of this paper is to address the above
limitation and is therefore the follow-up to Harris’ (2016) paper.
Design/methodology/approach The chief librarians in ve of the six local university libraries were
surveyed to provide insights into the trends and issues in Jamaican academic libraries at the university level.
Findings Acquisitions, budget, stafng, communicating value, digital preservation and curation, mobile
environment, collaboration, scholarly communication, information technology, space, higher education, user
behaviour and expectations and information literacy are the top trends and issues in Jamaican academic
libraries at the university level.
Research limitations/implications This survey seeks to complement rather than contest Harris’
(2016) research. Perhaps a useful follow-up to both papers would be biennial updates. Additionally, a survey
of the trends and issues in all types of academic libraries throughout the English-speaking Caribbean would
be a useful follow-up.
Originality/value This paper is of value, as it is the rst survey of trends and issues in Jamaican
academic librarianship. It enriches the existing document and thematic analytical research on trends and
issues in Jamaican academic libraries by adding an empirical component. It also increases the number of
publications, on trends and issues in Jamaican academic librarianship, from one to two, and allows voices from
the English-speaking Caribbean (Jamaica) to be incorporated into the literature dedicated to trends and issues
in academic libraries.
Keywords Jamaican academic libraries, Jamaican university libraries, Academic library issues,
Academic library trends, Caribbean academic libraries, Caribbean university libraries
Paper type Research paper
Monitoring trends and issues is a critical task in modern data and information-driven
societies and in which libraries serve an important supporting role. Identifying and acting on
emerging trends help academic libraries to capture opportunities, improve or discard old
practices, maintain relevance, spur innovation and make accurate forecasts. Regardless of
geography and nances, libraries in the developing world must keep a global perspective;
they must analyse the trends and issues locally and globally to effectively design the services
they offer to stakeholders. A scan of the literature on academic librarianship in Jamaica
reveals only one paper directly dedicated to trends and issues, and this is Harris’ (2016) paper
which is based on the results of a document and thematic analysis of publications written
from 2010 to 2016.
This paper builds on Harris’ (2016) paper by also using the Association of College &
Research Libraries’ (ACRL) research ndings on trends and issues in academic librarianship
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 4 October 2016
Revised 3 November 2016
20 December 2016
Accepted 6 January 2017
Informationand Learning Science
Vol.118 No. 1/2, 2017
©Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/ILS-10-2016-0069
in the USA, with a view to examining the extent to which these ACRL ndings are replicated
in academic librarianship at the university level in Jamaica and from the perspective of the
chief librarians in these institutions, who are also referred to as the campus librarian, or the
director of library and media services or the university librarian; these terms are used
interchangeable in this paper.
This paper therefore reviewed the ACRL publications on the top trends and issues in
American academic libraries, published biennially since 2010, with the objective of
extracting the major themes (trends and issues) and the supporting statements and then
using these to form the content of a questionnaire which was administered to the chief
librarians in Jamaican university libraries. The librarians were asked to indicate whether the
trends and issues outlined in the questionnaire are characteristic of their library, and where
they are not, to indicate what they consider to be the major trends and issues in their library.
By using ACRL’s papers as a starting point, comparisons between US and Jamaican
academic libraries could be made in the analysis section. Notwithstanding, this paper should
not be read as an attempt to replicate ACRL papers but as providing a framework for how
academic libraries in Jamaica should or could be trending, and also to provide a group of
possible issues that these libraries could be experiencing, while at the same time allowing
Jamaican librarians to indicate what happens in their libraries.
Additionally, while the ACRL scans the entire academic library community within the
USA and looks at university and college libraries, this paper, for very practical reasons, is
less ambitious in its scope. While the focus is on academic libraries in Jamaica, only those at
the university level were surveyed because of the author’s current specialization, interest in
expanding the literature on university libraries and aim to inform the practice of academic
librarianship in general but more so those at the university level. Therefore, the use of
academic libraries in this paper’s ndings is limited to those at the university level. This
study could be enhanced by including college libraries, which could be a further line of
enquiry for practicing college librarians with an interest in this particular aspect of academic
librarianship. This paper is a useful forerunner to more extensive research which could be
extended to include all levels of academic libraries within the entire English-speaking
This paper is organized as follows: it begins with an overview of Jamaican academic
libraries at the university level. A brief review of the literature follows. The paper then
describes the methodological framework for this investigation, followed by a presentation
and analysis of the survey ndings on trends and issues in Jamaican academic libraries at the
university level. The conclusion, recommendations for further lines of enquiry and
appendices follow.
Jamaican academic libraries at the university level
There are six local university libraries in Jamaica:
(1) The University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona library.
(2) The University of Technology library.
(3) Northern Caribbean University (NCU) library.
(4) The Mico University College library.
(5) The International University of the Caribbean library.
(6) The University College of the Caribbean library.
These universities and their libraries are all multi-locational. Additionally, with the
exception of NCU, each university has its main campus in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica,

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