Announcing the NMC Horizon Report > 2017 Library Edition

For Immediate Release
Thu, 04/06/2017


Mary Jane Petrowski

Associate Director


CHICAGO - The New Media Consortium (NMC), University of Applied Sciences (HTW) Chur, Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB), ETH Library, and the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) jointly released the NMC Horizon Report > 2017 Library Edition at the ACRL 2017 Conference. This is the third edition of the NMC Horizon Report that explores the realm of academic and research libraries in a global context. This report describes annual findings from the NMC Horizon Project, a 15-year-old ongoing research project designed to identify and describe emerging technologies poised to influence learning, teaching, and creative inquiry. Six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in educational technology are placed directly in the context of their likely impact on the core missions of academic and research libraries. The topics are summarized in the accompanying infographic.

Top 10 “Sound Bites” from the Report

1. Each topic is placed into one or more of six meta-categories that reflect movements in academic and research libraries: 1) Expanding Access and Convenience; 2) Spurring Innovation; 3) Fostering Authentic Learning and Discovery; 4) Balancing Societal Shifts; 5) Tracking Research and Patron Data; and 6) Spreading Digital Fluency.

2. The Introduction looks back at the topic sets for the past three library-focused editions of the NMC Horizon Report. Over time, the Evolving Nature of the Scholarly Record and Research Data Management have been the most pervasive trends, Embracing the Need for Radical Change the most targeted challenge, and the Internet of Things the most enduring technology development.

3. The topics in the report were selected by a diverse panel of 75 experts. Library leaders, librarians, technologists, industry leaders, and other key stakeholders from 14 countries comprise this year’s expert panel. They engaged in a three-month virtual discussion to share how the trends, challenges, and technologies are materializing in their environments.

4. The Executive Summary presents 10 highlights capturing the big picture themes of educational change that underpin the 18 topics. Among the themes are the notions that better catering to patrons’ needs requires user-centric design and a focus on accessibility and that advancing innovation necessitates the reimagining of organizational structures.

5. Semi-finalists — topics from the cutting room floor that almost made the report — are listed. The shift away from books, marketing library services, mixed reality, and more were all heavily considered by the expert panel. They could make a comeback in the next edition!

6. The report illuminates examples of compelling trends, solutions, and technology initiatives in practice at academic and research libraries. Leaders seeking inspiration, models, and tactical insight around strategy and technology deployment can look to these exemplars from across the world.

7. Three new challenges to the NMC Horizon Project were proposed by the panel and voted into the report. They are: 1) Accessibility of Library Services and Resources; 2) Adapting Organizational Designs to the Future of Work; and 3) Economic and Political Pressures. The expert panel’s inclusion of these topics signals a need to look outward — to deeply consider major societal shifts.

8. Big Data and Digital Scholarship Technologies are both considered on the “near-term horizon” for widespread adoption. The former topic reflects the desire to track and analyze the data generated via online resources and services to better meet patron needs. The latter refers to the suite of digital and computational tools used to advance scholarship as libraries continuously integrate new emerging technologies.

9. Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things are poised to amplify the utility and reach of library services. These developments on the “far-term horizon” can personalize the library experience for patrons, connecting them more efficiently to resources that best align with their goals.

10. The inclusion of topics such as Patrons as Creators and Improving Digital Literacy shed light on library professionals’ roles as deeper learning guides. Libraries are well-positioned to lead efforts that develop patrons’ digital citizenship and content creation skills, ensuring mastery of responsible and creative technology use.

“We are invigorated that the partnerships behind our library report have grown even stronger over three editions,” says Eden Dahlstrom, executive director of the NMC. “Academic and research libraries are not just a vital part of scholarship, but also advancing knowledge and society as a whole. They play an important role as curators and purveyors of high-quality research, supported by innovative infrastructure.”

“The cooperation in the project with different partners and experts from all over the world is fascinating and fruitful,” says Rudolf Mumenthaler, professor of Library Science at HTW Chur and co-principal investigator of the report. “The results of our research are very useful to feed discussions in libraries and in communities for further developing their services.“

“From a Co-PI’s perspective it is exciting to see both continuity and novelty with respect to the trends, challenges, and developments highlighted in the report,” shares Franziska Regner, head of Innovation and Development at ETH Library and co-principal investigator of the report.

“Academic libraries globally are facing the same trends and challenges,” says Lambert Heller, Head of Open Science Lab at Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB) and co-principal investigator of the report. “As part of this community, we enjoy helping to depict the whole landscape and to collect best practice solutions from all areas.”

“ACRL is delighted to collaborate with the NMC, whose reports are widely read and respected in higher education,” says Mary Ellen K. Davis, ACRL executive director. “The report provides so much valuable information to help academic and research librarians plan for the future. We are looking forward to releasing it during the ACRL 2017 Conference. I know that its release will be highly anticipated and that it will stimulate many thoughtful conversations.”

The NMC Horizon Report > 2017 Library Edition is published under a Creative Commons license to facilitate its widespread use, easy duplication, and broad distribution.


About the New Media Consortium (NMC)

The NMC is an international not-for-profit consortium of learning-focused organizations committed to the exploration and use of new media and new technologies. The NMC is world-renowned for its NMC Horizon Project, which produces the NMC Horizon Report series, charting the uptake of emerging technologies in various learning sectors worldwide. Since 1993, the NMC and its members have dedicated themselves to analyzing and developing potential applications of emerging technologies and progressive approaches for teaching, learning, research, and creative inquiry. To learn more, visit

About ETH Library

ETH Library, established in 1855, is the main library serving the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich) and the largest public natural scientific and technical library in Switzerland. It has a major influence on technical developments in Swiss libraries in general. The extensive information resources held by ETH Library range from traditional media such as printed books and journals to electronic data resources. The collections cover all the specialist fields of education and research at ETH Zürich: Architecture and Civil Engineering, Engineering Sciences, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, System-oriented Natural Sciences, and Management and Social Sciences. ETH Library is in charge of the long-term preservation of ETH Zürich's scientific and cultural heritage in digital form in the ETH Data Archive and provides advice on data management. To learn more, visit

About the German National Library of Science and Technology (TIB)

Acting in the capacity of the German national library of technology, as well as architecture, chemistry, computer science, mathematics and physics, the Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB) – German National Library of Science and Technology in Hannover ensures the provision of literature and information in printed and electronic form. The realms of academia, research, industry and business benefit from its services. TIB supports specialist and research communities with numerous services in their research, learning and work processes. The library conducts applied research and development to optimise the services it offers. The key areas of research are in the fields of data science, non-textual material, open science, and visual analytics. To learn more, visit

About University of Applied Sciences (HTW) Chur

The University of Applied Sciences (HTW) Chur is an innovative and entrepreneurial higher education institution with around 1,600 students. With its applied research, it contributes to the development of innovations, knowledge and solutions for society. HTW Chur offers a range of bachelor's, master's and further education courses in digital science, engineering/architecture, management, multimedia production, photonics, technology and tourism. The Swiss Institute for Information Science is dedicated to research and education in information and data science with a focus on archiving and library science. To learn more, visit

About the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) is the higher education association for librarians. Representing more than 11,000 academic and research librarians and interested individuals, ACRL develops programs, products, and services to help academic and research librarians learn, innovate, and lead within the academic community. Founded in 1940, ACRL is committed to advancing learning and transforming scholarship. To learn more, visit