Research Libraries UK is a consortium of 37 of the UK and Ireland’s largest research libraries with the purpose of convening its members around the key issues that affect them, to represent their collective voice, to support them as they face shared challenges, and to be an effective advocate on their behalf. In fulfilment of these roles, RLUK launched its digital shift manifesto in May 2020, which provides a vision for the research library of 2030 - in relation to the digital shift occurring within research library collections, services, operations, and audience interactions. Centred around the four strands of skills, spaces, scholarship, and stakeholders, the manifesto provides a shared vision of the future and a tangible programme of activities through which this can be achieved. This article will explore how the Covid-19 pandemic has witnessed the digital shift in action. Combining the reflections of individual academic and research libraries, and using RLUK’s previous research into the impact of Covid-19 as a foundation, this article will reflect on how realistic and future looking the manifesto was. It will explore the collective experiences of libraries regarding the digital shift, will consider progress made in the implementation of the manifesto against this rapidly changing backdrop, and will provide a series of reflections for the future.


Available under License Creative Commons Attribution. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Cite as

Baxter, G., Beard, L., Beattie, G., Blake, M., Greenhall, M., Lingstadt, K., Nixon, W. & Reimer, T. 2021, 'Covid-19 and the future of the digital shift amongst research libraries: an RLUK perspective in context', New Review of Academic Librarianship, 27(3), pp. 322-348. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13614533.2021.1976232

Downloadable citations

Download HTML citationHTML Download BIB citationBIB Download RIS citationRIS
Last updated: 16 June 2022
Was this page helpful?