Research in the further education library and learning resources centre sector: the Welsh experience

Publication Date01 December 2000
Date01 December 2000
AuthorD. Hywel E. Roberts,J.A. Lamb
SubjectLibrary & information science
Research in the further
education library and
learning resources
centre sector: the Welsh
D. Hywel E. Roberts and
J.A. Lamb
1. Introduction
As endeavours in the LIS research field
generally have developed rapidly in recent
decades, the management and provision of
services in the further education (FE) sector
appears not only to be an area favoured by a
very limited number of researchers, it appears
to be one avoided by most.
This is somewhat surprising on first
reflection. The FE sector in the UK has
experienced exponential growth in terms of
student numbers over a decade and more, it is
a sector that has been identified by successive
governments as a major contributor to the
task of improving the quality and the skills of
the workforce, and it has experienced major
managerial change, particularly since the
Further and Higher Education Act 1992,
(The Further and Higher Education Act,
1992), which inter alia established the Further
Education Funding Councils for the
constituent countries of the UK. The councils
were required to ``secure the funding of
facilities for full-time and part-time FE,
administer the funds made available in
support of FE, have regard to the
requirements of people with learning
difficulties and/or disabilities, provide the
Secretary of State with information and
advice, [and] ensure that the quality of
education in institutions within the FE sector
is assessed'' (The Further and Higher
Education Council Wales Corporate Plan,
1995, p. 7). In addition, FE institutions also
achieved independence from local authorities
in managerial terms and became self-governing
entities or incorporated institutions, albeit
within the important policy frameworks and
resource allocation systems of the Funding
Councils. A major development within the
sector as it affects the delivery of services to
users, namely franchising, is one area that has
been effectively investigated and findings have
been put into practice. User-education is
another aspect that has been researched to
good professional effect, but it could have
been expected that researchers would have
responded to the increasing vitality of the
sector and to the numerous other research
opportunities that it presents. There may be
good reasons why research in the sector is
limited. As we shall show, it is certainly a
sector that presents significant difficulties.
The authors
D. Hywel E. Roberts is Professor, Department of
Information and Library Studies, University of Wales,
Aberystwyth, UK.
J.A. Lamb is Dean of Learning Resources, Swansea
Institute of Higher Education, Swansea, UK.
Libraries, Continuing education, Learning organization,
Wales, Surveys
In the context of the publication of a survey
commissioned by the Library Association into library and
learning resources in further education (FE), the authors
identify the key findings of a series of similar surveys of
libraries and learning resource centres in the FE sector in
Wales, carried out between 1984 and 1997. The impact of
growth in student numbers, changes in funding and
management arrangements at national and local levels,
and quality assurance mechanisms, is explored. The study
also describes the major problems associated with
quantitative and qualitative research in this sector,
compares the results achieved and identifies areas for
future research.
Electronic access
The research register for this journal is available at
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is
available at
Library Management
Volume 21 .Number 9 .2000 .pp. 491±500
#MCB University Press .ISSN 0143-5124

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