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Publications

Issue Brief
January 4, 2018

Big Deal

Should Universities Outsource More Core Research Infrastructure?

Research universities have developed in symbiosis with a robust set of commercial providers that serve their needs. From food service providers to run dining halls to private equity firms to manage parts of the endowment, outsourcing has allowed universities to remain more focused on their core educational and research functions. But universities have also at times elected to outsource academic infrastructure. Commercial firms have developed a major role in several significant university functions, including scientific publishing, library management systems, and…
Issue Brief
August 16, 2017

Red Light, Green Light

Aligning the Library to Support Licensing

There is widespread frustration within the academic library community with the seemingly uncontrollable price increases of e-resources, especially of licensed bundles of scholarly journals. The scholarly communications movement has vastly expanded academic and indeed public access to scholarly content. Yet prices for certain scholarly resources continue to outpace budget increases, and librarians do not feel in control of budgets and pricing. What if libraries found ways to bring together the whole library behind the objective of stabilizing or reducing what…
Issue Brief
July 26, 2017

Rethinking Liaison Programs for the Humanities

For generations, most research libraries have had employees with deep subject expertise. Once known as bibliographers, these scholars and librarians originally focused their efforts on selection for collection building. Today, there is real anxiety about the role of subject expertise and academic liaisons in research libraries. We argue that evidence about scholars’ practices and needs should be a key input into reorganizing library subject expertise.[1] Librarian subject expertise and liaison roles At many research libraries, the role of…
Issue Brief
May 18, 2017

Finding a Way from the Margins to the Middle

Library Information Technology, Leadership, and Culture

Given the number and variety of significant information technology projects led or supported by research libraries, one could incorrectly assume that information technology has been successfully integrated into our organizations. Unlike other recent library service program developments—namely, information literacy and scholarly communication, which also started on the margins—information technology has not found its way to the “middle” in most of our organizations. Information technology workers, not solely but in particular, experience a lingering divide between the culture of the information…
Issue Brief
October 26, 2016

Finding the Public Domain

The Copyright Review Management System

The public domain is the ultimate open access. It is key to the bargain of copyright. Rather simplistically, in order to incentivize authors to produce works, the public, through Congress, grants authors copyrights in those works. While there is a range of opinion about the purpose and nature of copyright, they all have one common idea: copyright is limited by time. A copyright is a monopoly that lasts for a limited time and is limited by certain conditions. Those limitations…
Issue Brief
July 14, 2016

Rethinking Research Libraries in the Era of Global Universities

As our world becomes increasingly interconnected politically, economically, culturally, and socially, higher education has followed suit. The 2011 survey by the American Council of Education’s Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement found a perceived acceleration of internationalization across campuses, from doctoral to associate degree institutions.[1] The definition of what that means for each institution varies. Graham Elkin, Faiyaz Devjee, and John Farnsworth developed a 13-scale model to assist universities in evaluating where they are presently and where they…
Issue Brief
April 26, 2016

Due Diligence and Stewardship in a Time of Change and Uncertainty

This Issue Brief has been adapted from Deanna Marcum’s keynote address at the CRL Collections Forum held in Chicago on April 14, 2016.[1] For as long as humankind has been recording thoughts and ideas, we have been concerned about the technologies and processes that will ensure preservation of those records. Consider Cassiodorus, a high official in the Ostrogothic Kingdom in Italy in the Sixth Century, AD, who wrote about the invention of papyrus with all of the enthusiasm…
Issue Brief
April 12, 2016

Issues Facing Major Research Universities at a Time of Stress AND Opportunity

This Issue Brief presents the lightly edited text of William G. Bowen’s keynote address at the Rutgers University 250th Anniversary Presidential Symposium on Higher Education, delivered in New Brunswick, NJ, on April 7, 2016. I would like to begin by acknowledging some of my many debts to Rutgers. My wife and I both have Rutgers degrees, hers an earned Master’s Degree and mine one of the “unearned” kind. Beyond that, as a close neighbor of Rutgers for many years, living…
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Issue Brief
March 28, 2016

Library Leadership for the Digital Age

The National Federation of Advanced Information Systems (NFAIS) honored me at its annual meeting in February with the Miles Conrad Award. I had an opportunity to give a lecture on any topic of my choosing. Leadership for the library profession has been a career-long interest, so I focused on what kind of leadership is required for the digital environment. In this Issue Brief, I include the highlights of the talk. In the February 29, 2016 issue of The New Yorker,…
Issue Brief
October 22, 2015

Research Data Management

Roles for Libraries

Background: the emerging role of data management in research libraries I first became aware of research data management as a frontier area of expertise for libraries and librarians almost 10 years ago. Tony Hey was one of the first to popularize the term ‘e-science’ and the idea that librarians had a role to play in managing research data.[1] This call might have stirred little interest at another time. But at least two things were happening around then that…
Issue Brief
September 21, 2015

Double Trouble

Sweet Briar College and Cooper Union

Sometimes, large lessons can be learned from the travails of small institutions. This is, we believe, true of the dramatic sagas of two very different private educational institutions: Sweet Briar College in Virginia and The Cooper Union in New York. The near-demise of Sweet Briar (now attempting to renew itself, but with uncertain prospects) and the struggles of Cooper Union (with big issues of both policy and governance) have much to teach us about the challenges facing both many small…
Issue Brief
September 1, 2015

Talent Management for Academic Libraries

When library deans and directors make public statements, they invariably acknowledge staff as the library’s most important asset. It seems that this platitude is becoming increasingly relevant as academic and research libraries make the transition from collections-centered to services-centered organizations. The staff line is the largest budget line in most library budgets, and staff will determine the success of the 21st century library. Now is the time to consider the ways in which we think about new and better ways…
Issue Brief
July 8, 2015

Taking Stock

Sharing Responsibility for Print Preservation

Thank you Bernie for inviting me to close the second Preserving America’s Print Resources summit meeting by taking stock of our progress in North America.[1] Even as I will raise questions about roles and responsibilities during the course of my talk, I am reminded that many in this room have been working on this issue for many years. Let’s recognize the print preservation leaders, so many of you here today, who are heroes of our generation’s efforts to…
Issue Brief
May 7, 2015

Educating the Research Librarian

Are We Falling Short?

For the entirety of my professional career, it has been a hobby of most practitioners to fret about library education. Practitioners have complained that the schools of library and information science were not preparing professionals as well as they might for particular segments of the profession—school libraries, public libraries, academic libraries, etc. The professional schools have responded that their job is to prepare students to work in all kinds of information organizations, not just libraries, and that these skills are…
Issue Brief
March 26, 2015

Meeting Researchers Where They Start

Streamlining Access to Scholarly Resources

Instead of the rich and seamless digital library for scholarship that they need, researchers today encounter archipelagos of content bridged by infrastructure that is insufficient and often outdated. These interconnections could afford opportunities to improve discovery and access. But in point of fact, the researcher’s discovery-to-access workflow is much more difficult than it should be.[1] …researchers’ expectations are being set not by improvements relative to the past but rather by reference to consumer internet services A different paper…
Issue Brief
December 19, 2014

Innovation in Teaching and the Freedom to Teach

Last year the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) released a statement on the freedom to teach which asserts several rights for faculty, including the right to determine the texts and assessments within their courses. While recognizing that “common course syllabi and examinations are… typical,” the statement emphasizes that these “should not be imposed by departmental or administrative fiat.” This issue brief, “Exploring the Contours of the Freedom to Teach,” considers the potential impact of AAUP's statement on the academy. Authors Lawrence…
Issue Brief
December 17, 2014

Does Online Learning Have a Role in Liberal Arts Colleges?

Liberal arts colleges are known for low professor to student ratios, intimate seminar classes and highly personalized undergraduate experiences. On the surface, it is not obvious how online learning fits with this picture. But these days liberal arts colleges face many of the same pressures as larger universities – resource constraints, the growth of non-traditional students with more extracurricular responsibilities, even uncertainty about how a liberal arts education should evolve to stay relevant in a digital world. There is an…
Issue Brief
November 13, 2014

Information Literacy and Research Practices

On November 12, 2014, ACRL released the third draft of the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education and called upon the community to provide additional feedback. Against this backdrop, this issue brief is particularly timely. In "Information Literacy and Research Practices," Nancy Fried Foster, Ithaka S+R's senior anthropologist, demonstrates how "researchers in the wild" are adhering to many of the goals described in the draft Framework. While recognizing that the move away from the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, in…
Issue Brief
October 13, 2014

Technology: Its Potential Impact on the National Need to Improve Educational Outcomes and Control Costs

On Monday, October 13, 2014, William G. Bowen delivered the opening address at Rice University's De Lange Conference, "Technology: Its Potential Impact On The National Need To Improve Educational Outcomes And Control Costs." We are pleased to publish it here as an Ithaka S+R issue brief. Bowen, who is president emeritus of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and also president emeritus of Princeton University, was the founding chairman of JSTOR/ITHAKA and continues to serve on ITHAKA's board. The paper explores…
Issue Brief
September 24, 2014

Does Discovery Still Happen in the Library?

Roles and Strategies for a Shifting Reality

In the age of the ubiquitous single search box, what role do libraries play in the discovery of scholarly resources? In this Issue Brief, Roger Schonfeld explores how the vision that the library should be the starting point for research—a vision many library directors hold—is often in conflict with the practices of faculty and students.  As users migrate to other starting points, librarians could invest in ways to bring them back. But there is also an opportunity for librarians to re-think…