Improving user interfaces make systems expertise easier to acquire
But our competitive advantage is diminishing
The typical researcher doesn't know who to contact if they have a question on say text datamining, though I would add in recent years this advantage has diminished because there are signs that publishers, database vendors are trying to reach out and engage directly to users not least by setting up Social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter as well as offer other direct services to users.
Users are increasingly using systems not under our direct control due to cloud services
Increasingly as libraries adopt cloud services such as LibGuides, Summon, some next generation platforms in the cloud, there is an interesting side effect that libraries are becoming even more of the middle man.
For example take the library catalogue, in the past it would be something locally hosted so if anything went wrong, only our library would be affected and only our library could fix it.
But now we use Summon as our main search, and when Summon is down, every Summon using library is affected , this means ANU, Duke etc. Libraries that use Primo Central hosted in the cloud would be in the same boat.
In such cases, going direct to Summon people would be far more effective than going through the library because effectively we can't do anything anyway.
Users are increasingly using systems by parties we do not have privileged relationships with
- Supporting grant proposals
- Research data management
- Reference management
I assumed that "time is no objection" but of course it is!
First of all, beginning researchers would be much weaker in the 3 expertise mentioned, though I suspect most will eventually acquire them on their own even without librarian guidance.
Also just because a distinguished eminent professor could devote time learning about the ins and outs of Google Scholar, doesn't means that he will.