While tough economic times call for all areas of an institution to tighten belts, libraries seemed to be particularly adversely impacted by the recession. Library budgets as a percentage of total institutional spending shrank, and in some places they never fully recovered.
Now, librarians are preparing for another wave of cuts, this time prompted by the economic contraction tied to the global pandemic.
“I’d be very surprised if any academic library escapes this situation without a cut or a freeze of one kind or another,” said Rick Anderson, associate dean for collections and scholarly communication at the University of Utah, in an email. “The question is how deep the cuts will be, or how long the freezes will last.”
Mary Lee Kennedy, executive director of the Association of Research Libraries, said many librarians are thinking about “ways they can deliver even more value” as they plan out possible scenarios for the next fiscal year.
“A big trend that we’re seeing is a continued focus on supporting online learning,” said Kennedy. Libraries are playing a vital role in helping instructors track down materials they need to teach, she said.
“We’re seeing that scholars are a lot more energized and supportive of open content right now,” said Judy Ruttenberg, program director for strategic initiatives at ARL.
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