2020 top trends in academic libraries

highlights provide a starting point or an update, depending on one’s familiarity with the topic. Overarching themes across the profession continue to emphasize the significant amount of change our institutions are driving, managing, and navigating.

Change management: New skills for new leadership

A recent Association of Research Libraries report focuses on managing change in libraries and states that there are “. . . three categories of urgent changes: changes in the research library relationship with institutional partners, changes in the research library organization, and changes in skills.”1 The urgency described in this report indicates a need for preparing a workforce for uncertainty and ambiguity. A 2017 Library Journal article encourages new skills for library leaders to manage change in a VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) world and a need to “get it right.”2

Managing change on this scale requires academic library leadership to be steeped in best practices for systematically adjusting the work of an entire organization. If our libraries are going to be successful in a VUCA world, current and future leaders will need to develop their change management skills. There are a number of leadership courses, workshops, and residential programs, and those which focus on these needed skills will be of greatest use to leaders looking to move their libraries into the future quickly and confidently.


Webinar Recording: The library’s role in high-value profiles of researchers and institutions

Employers, funders and collaborators need to be aware of and trust in the foundation for that authority before the opportunity actualizes.

Librarians play an important role in establishing that evidence for both their researchers and institutions. Learn more in this one-hour recorded webinar, where four librarian presenters share how they:

  • Advise researchers on curating their academic and author profiles
  • Preserve and provide access to research and scholarship
  • Present faculty workshops on research impact and other initiatives
  • Promote, support and track open access


The National Library of Israel Will Digitize 2,500 Rare Islamic Manuscripts

The National Library of Israel, in coordination with the Arcadia Fund, has announced a major initiative to open digital access to over 2,500 rare Islamic manuscripts and books.


Reverse Dictionary

The way Reverse Dictionary works is pretty simple. It simply looks through tonnes of dictionary definitions and grabs the ones that most closely match your search query. For example, if you type something like “longing for a time in the past”, then the engine will return “nostalgia”. The engine has indexed several million definitions so far, and at this stage it’s starting to give consistently good results (though it may return weird results sometimes). It acts a lot like a thesaurus except that it allows you to search with a definition, rather than a single word. So in a sense, this tool is a “search engine for words”, or a sentence to word converter.

I made this tool after working on Related Words which is a very similar tool, except it uses a bunch of algorithms and multiple databases to find similar words to a search query. That project is closer to a thesaurus in the sense that it returns synonyms for a word (or short phrase) query, but it also returns many broadly related words that aren’t included in thesauri. So this project, Reverse Dictionary, is meant to go hand-in-hand with Related Words to act as a word-finding and brainstorming toolset. For those interested, I also developed Describing Words which helps you find adjectives and interesting descriptors for things (e.g. waves, sunsets, trees, etc.).

In case you didn’t notice, you can click on words in the search results and you’ll be presented with the definition of that word (if available). The definitions are sourced from the famous and open-source WordNet database, so a huge thanks to the many contributors for creating such an awesome free resource.