The Scholarly Kitchen: “The pandemic has wrought profound disruption on the academic sector. In the United States, impacts on face-to-face instruction and the residential model have resulted in substantial challenges to the student experience, while setbacks to scientific research and researchers themselves are no less significant. Increasing costs of retooling campuses and declining revenues from a variety of sources have caused significant anxiety and very real cutbacks. In early May here at The Scholarly Kitchen, one of us provided a primer for forecasting budgets in the US higher education sector, and subsequently we have dug deeply into institutional budgets for a number of commissioned projects. Today, we are able to share findings from a major research project about the budget situation in US academic libraries, from an out-of-cycle edition of the Ithaka S+R US Library Survey that we conducted this fall. Our results reflect the perspectives of 638 library directors — roughly 43% — from four-year colleges and universities in the United States…”
Current Affairs – “The mayor and city council of New Orleans have proposed a budget that cuts funding to the public library by 40 percent. Voters will decide whether to approve it on December 5th. If they do, an essential public service and community institution will be gutted. And you can soon expect to see the same thing happening in your own city or town. The problem with public libraries is that while they are hugely popular, they are also in tension with the prevailing political and economic ideology, which suggests the government should run like a business, cutting costs and measuring the worth of every service by its market price. Libraries offer useless knowledge, the joy of intellectual discovery. A McKinsey consultant, looking at a public library, would wonder why it isn’t charging usage fees to its patrons, or why it has many shelves that few people visit, and what its economic value to the city is. To the extent governments think like McKinsey consultants instead of like human beings, libraries will always be under threat, because they seem like a “luxury” rather than an essential good. After all, if government does not provide free housing or free healthcare, why is it providing free knowledge, when one must be housed and alive before all else? (The correct answer to that question is that government should be providing housing and healthcare as well rather than axing library budgets.)…”
Inside Higher Education – University library leaders prepare for uncertain financial future amid pandemic
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