National knowledge service

A UK-wide digital library for British higher education is in reach, says Ann Rossiter (SCONUL), if we can sort the licensing out.

The UK’s status as a world leader in research depends on its institutions having the best possible access to the full range of published work. Although we currently rank alongside the US and outstrip most European and Asian nations, we risk being overtaken in the next decade if we do not grasp the possibilities of new technology.

For the first time, a national digital library has become a realistic possibility, both technologically and economically. Such a shared service, delivering a national core collection of monographs and journals, would allow the UK to maintain its lead in delivering the best content electronically to all students, researchers and academics at higher education institutions. It would also overcome a significant barrier to new entrants to the higher education market: further education colleges would be able to buy into it, rather than having to build up their own individual libraries. The student experience would be improved by resources accessed through a national catalogue.

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