RLUK Report on Virtual Reading Rooms and Virtual Teaching Spaces

Research Libraries UK (RLUK) has recently published an interesting look at the state of play in Virtual Reading Rooms (VRRs) and Virtual Teaching Spaces, both in the UK and beyond. This is important  in terms of research (and instructional) resilience and in terms of the service mix as institutions return to in-person operations. It’s also interesting to consider this line of developments in connection with the Sourcery program from the University of Connecticut and Northeastern University, which we’ve covered at several recent CNI meetings. See

http://www.rluk.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/RLUK-VRR-VTS-in-collection-holding-institutions-report.pdf

Below, I include the RLUK announcement.

Clifford Lynch
Director, CNI

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Research Libraries UK (RLUK) has published a new major research report exploring the current and future developments in the area of Virtual Reading Rooms (VRRs) and Virtual Teaching Spaces (VTSs) amongst collection-holding institutions.

This report presents the results of a recent survey launched by RLUK, in collaboration with members of the International Alliance of Research Library Associations (IARLA). This work informs an ongoing piece of research being undertaken by RLUK regarding the potential of VRRs as digital research infrastructure and the possibilities and benefits of undertaking a networked approach.

Remote technologies were employed by many collection-holding institutions as an emergency response to the challenges imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. As academics, researchers, and students were prevented from getting physical access to collections due to the closure of libraries and archives, VRRs and VTSs constituted an alternative way of accessing physical materials digitally, without relying on digitisation.

As our findings revealed, the re-opening of on-site operations has seen many institutions continuing to run VRRs and VTSs alongside physical processes and activities. Institutions are now more aware of the potential of VRRs and VTSs to make collections available to various audience groups as well as facilitate research and learning as bespoke services. Therefore, it is not surprising that more institutions internationally are planning to launch their VRRs and VTSs in the immediate future

The report presents the experiences of 22 institutions internationally which have created, or intend to create, VRR and VTS services. Participants share their experiences around the establishment of their VRR and VTS services, including the various requirements for running them, the engagement with their audiences as well as the challenges that need to be overcome. They also share their plans for future activity and reflect on the collaborative potential of VRRs.

Last updated:  Monday, May 2nd, 2022