Many libraries have special expertise in particular disciplines, and they build services and collections to support researchers in those fields. But as research practices evolve, are libraries addressing the changing needs of their users?

Ithaka S+R’s Research Support Services program is designed to help libraries re-imagine their services for scholars on a discipline-by-discipline basis. Through the program, we have explored the needs of researchers in chemistry, history, and art history, and projects focused on religious studies and agriculture are currently underway. We are excited to announce that our next study, beginning Fall 2016, will focus on the field of public health. We are actively recruiting libraries, publishers, and learned societies to partner in this project with us.

Public health approaches the study of health from the vantage of disease prevention and health promotion at the community-level, and this approach has important implications for how researchers in this field conduct and disseminate their work. As public health focuses on the environmental, human behavioral, and lifestyle dimensions of health, the audiences of public health research are diverse and include policy makers, practitioners, and the public-at-large. This multi-disciplinary field spans biological sciences, quantitative sciences, and social sciences, and the research takes place in a variety of contexts ranging from the laboratory to the field. Areas of specialization within the larger public health field may be organized by analytical method, health problem, setting, or population under study.

The public health project is a unique opportunity to re-imagine library services in ways that directly attend to scholars’ evolving research activities and needs because the research will concurrently yield insight that is institution-specific and discipline-wide. Each participating library will assemble a research team, participate in an Ithaka S+R training workshop, and conduct qualitative research on public health faculty at their institution. This research will result in a local report authored by the participating institutions that considers researchers’ needs in the context of that institution. Ithaka S+R will also use a sample of the data gathered from each institution towards creating a report that considers researcher activities across the public health discipline more widely.

To learn more about how to participate in our upcoming project in public health, please email me at We are also recruiting libraries to take part in our Asian Studies project which will commence in early 2017. We welcome publishers, learned societies, and others interested in these fields to partner with us.