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“Caught My Eye” by Katina: Commentary: The future (budget) of the academic library

by | Aug 10, 2022 | 0 comments

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Commentary: The future (budget) of the academic library is by Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe and it appears in Physics Today.

Academic librarians are stewards of resources invested for the collective campus good. Responsible stewardship includes serving the institution’s mission, meeting the needs of researchers and learners, and anticipating what needs will emerge next.

Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe

For more than a decade, I’ve been exploring the power of futures thinking for driving library strategic planning and decision making.1 Futures thinking is a framework for considering multiple scenarios for what the future might hold and evaluating those scenarios for likelihood and potential consequences. By considering which futures are possible, librarians can then develop strategies and policies that move toward desirable futures while also, hopefully, avoiding undesirable ones. Futures thinking also offers the opportunity for other library stakeholders—faculty, students, and administrators—to see their roles in ensuring the health of their libraries.

So, what of the current state of academic libraries? Put bluntly, times are hard.

For decades, academic librarians have dealt with the realities of collections budgets that have not grown to match the expanding volume of journals, books, media, databases, and other resources that faculty and students need for research and learning. Many budgets have not even kept pace with inflation...”

Pandemic disruptions only intensified the financial pressures that academic libraries already faced. An Ithaka S+R survey of US academic library deans and directors found that by September 2020, 75% of those libraries that did have a budget for 2020–21 had experienced a budget cut compared with what would have otherwise been expected before the pandemic.2 A notable proportion took cuts greater than 10%. Even more challenging, 20% of academic libraries did not yet have a budget for the 2020–21 fiscal year by September, and many of those libraries had been considering substantial cuts...”

Please Click Here to continue reading this important commentary.

Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, the author of this commentary, uses futures thinking as a strategy for making decisions and plans for institutional libraries as their budgets continue to tighten. She is a professor and coordinator for research and teaching professional development at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign library.

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