Essential Research Support Provided by the University Libraries
In addition to their essential teaching and learning role, American universities contribute to society through their research output. Findings in such areas as health sciences, engineering and technology, physical sciences, social sciences, and more are shared beyond the university and help deepen our understanding of the world and improve the quality of life for so many people.
Central Michigan University is no exception when it comes to doing important research, of course. Through its laboratories, workshops, and classrooms, the university regularly engages in discovery and the creation of new knowledge in a variety of disciplines. And a key partner in the research process is the University Libraries.
The library offers a number of services to help faculty advance their research. One of the first steps undertaken by a researcher is becoming familiar with the existing research on a topic. What is already known? What are the most recent discoveries? What are the latest trends, or the new directions in which the research is going? At this point, many researchers meet with a subject liaison librarian to discuss a literature search or a systematic review. These are exhaustive database and collection searches which expose the researcher to the sum total of existing research done on their topic. The librarian’s expertise in search strategies and information discovery ensures the researcher is able to understand the magnitude of existing research on a topic before proceeding.
The library’s collections also play a key part in research. By offering access to journal articles, books, and datasets, the library provides researchers with the background information they need to support and advance their own research. Having immediate access to these materials allows researchers to keep their investigations moving forward at a good pace.
If our library does not own a particular article or book, the Documents on Demand office can get a copy of it from another library. To put it plainly, CMU-affiliated individuals have access to the collections of not only libraries across the United States but worldwide. And since much of this interlibrary loaning happens electronically, researchers may have their requested materials delivered to them in as little as two or three hours. This ability to borrow materials from other libraries is an essential service provided to researchers by the Libraries. During the 2021-22 academic year, Documents on Demand has obtained more than 13,000 items for CMU researchers. And it’s worth pointing out they have also filled just over 14,000 requests from individuals at other institutions who need to borrow something from our collections.
The support provided to CMU researchers by the University Libraries is occasionally recognized in the final research publication. In the past, librarians and Documents on Demand have received mentions of thanks from article and book authors, and in some cases librarians have been credited as co-authors on articles in recognition of the role they played in the production of the research. It’s an honor to be recognized like this, and a testimony to the important research support role played by the Libraries.