May 26, 2022

SPARC Releases Results of COVID Impact Survey

From a SPARC:

Today, SPARC releases the results of its COVID Impact Survey, which was undertaken to better understand academic libraries’ pandemic-related budgetary challenges and approaches, with a focus on understanding how they affected attitudes towards content, collections, and open initiatives.


Among the findings of the study:

  • Nearly 80% of libraries had to contend with budget cuts as a result of COVID; over 20% reported having experienced a cut of 10% or more; the vast majority of those who experienced cuts anticipate that these reductions will likely be permanent.
  • Many libraries reported renegotiating publisher agreements or unbundling a Big Deal, or were strongly considering doing so. That said, in some cases, the need to act quickly and efficiently served to protect major long-term contracts (including some Big Deals), while leaving smaller publishers and one-time purchases (like monographs) exposed as easier to cut with fewer immediate repercussions.
  • Across the board, respondents reported investing in open initiatives in a range of ways; most felt these investments were either likely to continue at current levels (50%) or grow (35%) in the year to come.
  • For many libraries, COVID-related shutdowns have reinforced the importance of the library as a source for provisioning digital content and for supporting online pedagogy, as demand from faculty and students for online content grew. Many librarians addressed this by shifting resources to providing further support for teaching, whether through digitization of course materials, working with instructors to create or manage online courses, or supporting adoption or creation of OERs.
  • Among the concerns raised by library leaders were the long-lasting impact of having run libraries absent their physical spaces, the impact on staff morale, and an inabil- ity to move ahead with new plans.


The report was produced in collaboration with Nancy Maron, founder of BlueSky to BluePrint, and Juan Pablo Alperin, co-director of the ScholCommLab and associate professor at Simon Fraser University.

Direct to Complete SPARC Post

Direct to Full Text Report: COVID Impact Study: Better Understanding Libraries’ Approach to Navigating the Pandemic & Its Impact on Support for Open Initiatives
53 pages; PDF.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.