May 16, 2022

Steven J. Bell on “What Can Academic Librarians Do About Material Challenges?”

From a Charleston Hub Blog Post by Steven J. Bell, Associate University Librarian, Temple University Libraries:

While academic libraries have thus far avoided the material challenges experienced by public and school libraries, our parent institutions are feeling the wrath of those who want to place similar controls on what faculty may and may not teach in their classrooms – and even what they say publicly as private citizens. One of the more troubling trends of 2021, was action taken by some state legislative bodies to interfere with the operation of public colleges and universities. Whether it’s firing administrators, appointing  partisan political appointees into high-level positions of authority, placing restrictions on faculty rights, or other strange attempts to question the operations of higher education, the notion of an independent American public college and university system is an increasingly endangered concept. It is quite likely these challenges will only grow worse and potentially even more egregious in 2022.

These worrisome developments require higher education institutions and their workers to acknowledge that what we once thought was unthinkable, the overt intrusion of politics into the daily operations of our institutions, is increasingly become an accepted reality. Backroom politics has always played some role in public higher education, whether it was the appointment of trustees or chancellors or deals made to get funding approvals. This is different. We’ve now crossed a threshold into some new and radically strange territory. The political maneuvering has shifted from behind the curtain to playing out right before our eyes in a heightened, threatening way.

Learn More, Read the Complete Blog Post by Steven J. Bell (about 960 words)

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.