Ithaka S+R is adjusting and expanding our studies of the research practices and support needs of scholars in individual fields of study to conduct them in partnerships with libraries and learned societies. Libraries that participate will learn a great deal about the needs of their scholars, while providing a valuable professional development opportunity for their librarians.  Through this partnership, we will generate a richly illustrated description of the field’s practices and needs and make actionable recommendations for how libraries (and others) can best support their research going forward.

The first of these project is for the field of religious studies, which is broadly defined to include both the religious and secular study of religions across denominations and regions. This is a fantastic interdisciplinary field that includes research and professional training and has proved itself to be more important than ever in our world today. The American Theological Library Association is serving as the lead sponsor for this project, with the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature also supporting the project. Several institutions, including Luther Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, Rice University, and Vanderbilt University, have already formalized their participation and more will do so shortly. This strong partnership of societies and educational institutions is the model we plan to use for other fields as well.

Our next two fields will be Agriculture and Asian Studies. Agriculture is an important field at so many public research universities, with fascinating developments at the intersections of science, policy, business, and global issues. Asian Studies covers a diverse and vital world region that in recent decades has had major centers of both development and conflict. Although different from one another, these fields indicate the importance we place not only in traditional arts and sciences fields but also in the sciences, professions, and area studies that will continue to be important for our society and our universities.

Research for all three fields is expected to start in the first half of 2016, and there are participation opportunities for libraries. While we are in the process of reaching out to some institutions known to have special interests in these fields, we are eager to work with additional libraries that are interested in supporting any of these fields. All participants will be asked to contribute a combination of some staff time and modest financial support. To learn more about how to participate, please email us. For publishers, learned societies, and others interested in partnering on these projects, there are sponsorship opportunities to help defray the project costs.

Finally, we are actively considering additional fields that should be added to this research program. We welcome expressions of interest from libraries, scholars, learned societies, potential sponsors, and others. Please write to me directly to discuss future directions.