Research Libraries Network
1. The Research Libraries Network (RLN)
will be set up in the academic year 2004-05 for a fixed term of
three years in the first instance. The initial term will end on
31 July 2007. The RLN will be led by an executive unit, with responsibility
for a baseline budget and individual project budgets of up to
£5 million over the period. The executive unit will based
within the British Library and will take guidance from an Advisory
Board regarding the strategic direction of the Network. The RLN
executive unit will be accountable to the Funders' Group.
2. The continuation of the Network beyond
the initial three year period, and the establishment of a permanent
executive board, will be dependent on the establishment of a long
term sustainability framework during the implementation period,
and on the outcomes of an external evaluation to be conducted
in the second year of operation.
3. The Research Libraries Network (RLN)
executive unit will lead and co-ordinate new developments in the
collaborative provision of research information for the benefit
of researchers in UK higher education.
4. The key objectives of the RLN executive
unit will be:
(a) To give strategic leadership to the provision
of research information in the UK, engaging both providers and
users in the formation and delivery of a comprehensive change
programme driven by the requirements of researchers in all disciplines
and underpinned by increasingly close and effective collaboration.
(b) To lead and co-ordinate action to propose
and specify solutions to researcher needs, including both developing
existing forms of provision and identifying and developing new
(c ) To act as a high level advocate for
research information ensuring that researchers' developing needs
inform policy making at the very highest levels of government
in the UK and internationally giving the UK a powerful, unified
voice in international debates on the development of research
5. The RLN executive unit will deliver an
integrated programme of action on a number of fronts:
Strategic leadership: to ensure that
the provision of research information moves forward within a strong
shared strategic framework.
Discovery: to bring forward developed
proposals for better arrangements for researchers to find out
what information sources relevant to their work are available,
where these are and how they may have access to them. It is now
both possible and desirable for these arrangements to cover, seamlessly,
both hard copy and electronic material.
Access to hard copy materials: the
aggregate UK collection of primary and printed research materials
is at present among the best in the world in its coverage. Concerted
action and national leadership are required to sustain this, to
improve the efficiency with which the collection is managed, and
to make it easier for all researchers to have effective access
to all of the material that it contains.
Access to electronic materials: to
take early action to ensure that UK researchers get the information
services that they need, and that we retain our place at the leading
edge of international development in this field. Some action to
manage the creation and supply of online published materials is
required, but the main emphasis should be on ensuring that the
full range of outputs and data that researchers will continue
to produce are shared and retained in the most effective way and
fully exploiting new technologies.
Sustainability: to ensure that we
build a national research information resource that is sustainable,
and secures researchers' continuing access to materials, over
the long term, and to consider how the network can be maintained
after the initial three years.
Meeting researchers' needs: the national
research effort is an essential engine for economic growth and
social cohesion. In the present context, researchers are properly
treated as a distinct group with particular shared needs. The
RLN executive unit will deliver a programme of action which is
planned in collaboration with the research community, and tailored
to their needs, but which also interacts at all points with parallel
activity on a broader stage to meet the full information needs
of the wider community.
Scholarly communications: to support
the development of new platforms and promoting debate within the
academic community on the implications of electronic tools and
the internet for the communication and formal publication of research
outcomes and for peer review and recognition systems.