Ithaka S+R Publishes US Library Survey 2022 Research Report: Navigating the New Normal
From the Ithaka S+R Library Survey by Ioana G. Hulbert
The Ithaka S+R Library Survey has examined leadership and strategic perspectives in the field by surveying library deans and directors nationally on a triennial basis since 2010. The research project’s overarching goals are to provide the library community with a valuable data source to inform decision making and track the emerging opportunities and challenges leaders face in steering their organizations. In fall 2022, we surveyed library leaders at not-for-profit four-year academic institutions across the United States, with a response rate of 42 percent based on 612 responses.
In this sixth iteration of the project, we continued to track high-level issues of strategy, leadership, budget, staffing, and institutional alignment. We also introduced new batteries of questions related to broader trends in higher education, including remote and hybrid learning, talent retention, and research data management, and expanded our coverage of open access and diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA).
- Priorities continue to shift from collections to services. A third of library deans and directors project an overall decrease in expenditures directed towards general collections, especially print resources. Services to support research and teaching and learning are growing priorities, and doctoral institutions in particular are interested in building or expanding research data management services.
- For roughly half of respondents, convincing campus leaders of the library’s value proposition remains a challenge. While over 72 percent of library deans and directors report high levels of confidence in their own ability to articulate their library’s value proposition in a way that aligns with the goals of the institution, only 51 percent are confident other senior administrators believe in this alignment.
- Student academic success remains a top priority across institution types. Deans and directors see the library contributing most strongly to increasing student learning and helping students develop a sense of community, rather than to other metrics such as addressing student basic needs or improving post-graduation outcomes.
- Information literacy may not have kept up with today’s needs. While information literacy instruction is a core priority, less than half of respondents are confident their library has a well-articulated strategy for combating misinformation or disinformation.
- Many library deans and directors are grappling with talent management and recruitment challenges. Nearly a fifth of respondents anticipate reducing staff in access services and technical services, metadata, and cataloging within the next five years. Furthermore, deans and directors are currently struggling to recruit personnel for roles in technology and programing, DEIA, cataloging and metadata, and indicate they are most likely to consider outsourcing cataloging and metadata and technology and programming skills.
- Confidence in library and institutional DEIA initiatives is waning. While directors indicate these strategies are a high priority, only a quarter are confident their libraries have well-developed DEIA strategies, down from over a third in fall 2020.
- Deans and directors see an increasingly open future—one they believe will result in an increase in costs for their institution. Roughly one quarter of deans and directors across institution type believe transformative agreements are a great mechanism for moving their institutions into the future of open access. Yet, a third of directors do not see libraries and publishers as allied with one another when it comes to open access developments. Directors believe an increasingly open future will not result in cost-savings.
Since 2010, Ithaka S+R has conducted the Library Survey on a triennial basis with the overarching goal of tracking the perspectives, priorities, and leadership strategies of library deans and directors at four-year academic institutions. This study is part of a larger international research portfolio, which includes the Ithaka S+R US Faculty Survey and surveys of leaders and staff in the museum, cultural heritage, and archives fields. Collectively, these survey-based research projects shed light on differences in perspectives across multiple professions and communities, as well as common priorities and challenges that bridge them.
This study in particular is designed to provide library and other higher education leadership with a high-level overview of the topics that are at the forefront of library leaders as they conceptualize the role, strategic alignment, and value proposition of academic libraries on campuses. Given the study is now in its sixth iteration, the questionnaire includes topics we have been tracking for several cycles, as well as new ones meant to capture the pulse of the current ecosystem of higher education.
Consistent with previous iterations of this survey, this cycle focuses on the core role and functions of the library, the relationship of its leader to other senior administrators, and library strategy, budgeting, staffing, and collections. This cycle we are also tracking topics that speak to emerging trends in the field, such as research data management services. We have also introduced new questions to further probe how library leaders prioritize diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility initiatives, as well as their perspectives on the open access landscape through.
Direct to Full Text Report
Direct to Full Text Report (47 pages; PDF)
Author: Ioana G. Hulbert
Filed under: Academic Libraries, Archives and Special Collections, Associations and Organizations, Companies (Publishers/Vendors), Data Files, Funding, Libraries, Management and Leadership, News, Open Access
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.