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December 17, 2020

What is the Academic Research Enterprise?

At this week’s CNI meeting, we presented findings from several recent studies we conducted about the academic research enterprise (video is available here). Taking an inclusive approach, we offered a broad working definition of the research enterprise: “the systems, services, policy, and staffing for the work of the university to generate knowledge.” In the session, CNI’s Clifford Lynch asked us to probe a little more deeply how this term can be scoped. Here,…
December 1, 2020

Leadership for the Research Enterprise

For many of the largest universities, the research enterprise is an essential component of the mission. And during this year of pandemic related disruptions, it has proved to be one of the most resilient sources of university revenue. In recent years, major universities have established senior research officers to provide a unitary source of leadership for this vital work. Today, my colleague Oya Rieger and I are publishing a major examination of the role of the senior…
October 27, 2020

Risks to the Research Enterprise

New Issue Brief on Global Science and the China Split

This year, the research activities of academia have been profoundly disrupted, as have the lives of researchers. Yesterday, we published a landscape review focusing on the disruptions caused by the pandemic itself. In addition, there is another source of growing disruption, caused less by a sudden event but rather by the geopolitical tensions that are causing a growing split between China and a group of liberal and democratic countries. In an issue…
October 26, 2020

Looking at the Impacts of COVID-19 on the Research Enterprise

New Report

Scholarly research is an enormous priority for many higher education institutions, serving both as a core part of the academic mission and also in some cases a major source of revenue. This year’s COVID-19 pandemic massively disrupted scientific research projects and the lives and careers of scientists themselves, and it has already begun to have profound budget consequences for some of the most research intensive higher education institutions. Some of the other impacts of this period of disruption…
July 21, 2020

Senior Research Officers

Evolving Portfolios and Strategic Priorities

A university’s senior research officer (SRO), who may have the title of vice president, vice provost, or vice chancellor for research, can have a variety of responsibilities, including overseeing institutional research safety and compliance, purchasing advanced research equipment, grant seeking and external funding administration, research ethics and integrity, strategic research directions, and procuring research workflow tools. The scope of this role is  broadening as SROs participate in federal and state research-related policy making and develop new partnerships with…
June 15, 2020

Organizational Trends in Academic Health Science Libraries

Over the past 20 years, the organization of academic health sciences libraries (AHSL) has changed markedly. While once medical libraries—as well as libraries supporting schools of nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and public health—were separate entities, many are now consolidated under a larger university library. Have these consolidations and mergers improved the accessibility of health sciences information and other AHSL services? Have they impacted cost or service quality? What new…
April 30, 2020

Leading a Library Today

How Library Directors Are Approaching the Challenges of the Current Moment

Over the past two weeks, Ithaka S+R has organized five roundtables for academic library leaders to help support their leadership during this time of disruption and uncertainty. In total, 40 library directors and two associate university librarians attended these sessions, representing every four-year institutional type. Participants introduced themselves by describing what has been working well for their libraries, the challenges they are facing, and their budgetary expectations. The discussion that followed–with minimum facilitation–then focused on the participants’ most…
April 21, 2020

Research Library Digitization Has Found Its Moment 

Long-term Investments Pay Off and Provide Lessons for the Future

Academic libraries have been on the leading edge of universities’ digital transformation for two decades. As a result, they were prepared for this moment of crisis. The broader lesson here, not just for libraries but for the entire higher education sector, is to continue investing “just in case” in enabling capacities—rather than, in this time of looming cutbacks, budgeting narrowly for today’s immediate needs only.  Recent weeks have seen the collapse of…
March 20, 2020

Leading in a Time of Uncertainty

Some Reflections

The COVID-19 public health crisis gripping the world today has been a sprint for leaders over the past week or two, making urgent decisions about closing facilities, virtualizing the workforce, and providing services online. In the weeks and months ahead, we will face a full marathon, with colleagues, services, and in some cases businesses needing care and tending in a period of great uncertainty.  In a public health emergency, every organization must ensure it is caring…
February 3, 2020

The Primacy of Print Is Past

OhioLINK recently shared its vision for the library system of the future in a white paper. That vision, developed by a group of library deans and directors whose work was facilitated by Ithaka S+R, involves two key elements that have garnered some attention for what they say about the future of the library and the work performed within it. The first element is centering the library system—just like the library itself—around the user. And the second involves enabling the…
January 23, 2020

A Vision for a New Library System

An Issue Brief from OhioLINK and Ithaka S+R

Library systems should be strategic enablers. Yet too often they serve as strategic impediments. Today, I am proud to share with you OhioLINK’s vision for the library systems that would unlock the strategic potential of its members.  Over the past year, colleagues and I have been collaborating with a working group of OhioLINK members as they developed their vision for a library system that could truly support the strategic directions their libraries are taking. This week,…
January 22, 2020

Copyright Education for Cultural Institutions

A 21st Century Approach for Libraries, Archives, and Museums

Today, Ithaka S+R is co-publishing, with Columbia University Libraries, a summary report about a roundtable held over the summer about Copyright Education in Libraries, Archives, and Museums. This is the latest step by a group of copyright experts and educators towards strengthening and sustaining copyright education for memory institutions and the research and educational missions they serve.  Ithaka S+R’s, in close partnership with Columbia’s Rina Elster Pantalony and Lyrasis’s Tom Clareson,…
December 5, 2019

What Are the Larger Implications of Ex Libris Buying Innovative?

Earlier today, news began leaking out that Ex Libris will purchase Innovative Interfaces, one of its largest competitors. The deal, which is expected to close in early 2020, further cements Ex Libris as the leader in the library systems marketplace and can be expected to put added pressure on OCLC. It will also raise concerns about Ex Libris’s dominant market position.  Library Systems Ex Libris’s core business is in library systems,…
November 6, 2019

A Methodology for Testing Service Concepts

New Issue Brief

As academic libraries continue to evolve beyond a focus on collections, their leaders have long recognized the importance of developing new services that add value for learners, instructors, researchers, and other stakeholders. Sometimes, the demand for new services is self-evident, but in other cases the library must develop services speculatively and in a competitive environment. In these cases, planning and assessment tools can be of tremendous value in allowing library leaders to focus their new service initiatives most…
October 21, 2019

Beyond Innovation: Emerging Meta-Frameworks for Maintaining an Open Scholarly Infrastructure

There are numerous free and community-based academic and cultural resources that are designed and built on open source or open access principles. Undertaken by not-for-profit mission-driven organizations, such services and technologies aim to introduce innovation to various stages of scholarly communication from designing research projects to publishing results.  Today, amid growing concerns about their long-term durability and agility, there is renewed interest in sustainability, business models, revenue, and maintenance. In our previous post, we looked back at some…
October 1, 2019

Sustaining the Open Sector: A Brief Look Back

During the last two decades, we’ve seen the emergence of several open source (OS) and open access (OA) initiatives designed to support the academic and cultural community’s needs for more effective, versatile, and cost-efficient tools. Since 2006, Ithaka S+R has explored the sustainability requirements of these resources, investigating both the factors that lead to success and the reasons behind setbacks and failures. Today, amid the failure of several cross-institutional “open” initiatives and the broader search for funding to…
March 26, 2019

A New Survey of Art Museum Directors

Art museums are in the midst of substantial transformations while trying to stay true to their values. They are buffeted by changes in technology, demographics, and how individuals and families choose to spend their leisure time or seek opportunities for cultural enrichment. How are leaders in this sector addressing these challenges? And, what future directions are they pursuing to stay relevant and achieve greater impact?  With support from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Ithaka S+R is launching a…
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March 6, 2019

Scale Is Existential

New Issue Brief on Library Collaborations

For more than a hundred years, academic libraries in North America have understood that they must seek scale greater than that of their own institution in order to provide the collections and services that their communities need. In search of cross institutional scale, libraries have developed an array of consortia and other collaborative vehicles. But as the nature of the collections libraries seek to provide, and the services that their user communities require, has evolved, so must their…
March 1, 2019

What is Content Syndication?

Over the past year, there have been some important developments among the major publishers as they move towards a new model for distributing their content. The principal driver has been the fear of “leakage,” which is to say usage for which publishers cannot provide COUNTER statistics and therefore are unable to monetize. There is real fear of losing library sales altogether due to leakage to SciHub, ResearchGate, and similar sites, which in one view is what has happened,…
January 24, 2019

A New Issue Brief on Revenue-Generating Library Services

Academic libraries are grappling with how to respond to the the continuing introduction of increasingly more business-like approaches to the academy, such as through the popularity of “responsibility center” approaches to management, and “customer” or “client”-focused approaches to service. For example, while some embrace the concept of “entrepreneurial librarianship” others are taking an anti-capitalist stance through the lens of “critical librarianship.” Undergirding these rhetorical moves are the material challenges that academic libraries, and their institutions, are facing as…
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