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April 16, 2019

When Research is Relational

New Report on Supporting the Research Practices of Indigenous Studies Scholars

I am excited to announce the publication of the capstone report from Ithaka S+R’s Indigenous Studies project, which brought together teams at eleven academic libraries to study the research support needs of Indigenous Studies scholars. Indigenous Studies places Indigenous perspectives at the center of inquiry, with unique protocols for defining, describing, sharing, and preserving information. The project provided a unique opportunity for academic librarians to come together, learn from Indigenous…
April 12, 2019

The Research, Teaching, and Publishing Practices of Faculty

US Faculty Survey 2018

This morning we published the US Faculty Survey 2018. Through this national survey, we have tracked the research, teaching, and publishing practices of higher education faculty members at four year colleges and universities on a triennial basis since 2000. Our aim in this project is to provide actionable findings and analysis to help colleges and universities as well as relevant support services, such as academic libraries, learned societies, and scholarly publishers,…
April 9, 2019

What to Watch for at ACRL 2019: Research Data Edition

With the ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) 2019 conference less than a week away, there has been some discussion about research data receiving limited attention in this year’s program. Academic libraries are at the forefront of key issues in data management, sharing, and use, so we wanted to make sure to highlight this important topic. Here’s a preview of some of the data-related sessions, lightning talks,…
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April 8, 2019

Learning from the Locals

How Local Survey Partnerships Have Enriched the Ithaka S+R US Faculty Survey 2018

In 2012, Ithaka S+R began offering colleges and universities the opportunity to field a customized instance of the US Faculty Survey, which tracks the research and teaching practices, perceptions, and needs of faculty members at four-year colleges and universities on a triennial basis. In more recent years, we began fielding our parallel surveys of undergraduate and graduate students as a means to gain better insight into the needs of these important stakeholders. To…
April 4, 2019

Hot Topics in FAIR Data: An Orientation for the Uninitiated

“Data” has become a watchword in academic circles – not to mention in society writ large. But it can be difficult to stay abreast of data-related developments as a plethora of organizations, initiatives, and technologies emerge. I recently had the privilege of attending and speaking at a CODATA workshop on FAIR data (which I’ll explain momentarily) and responsible research data management. Hosted at Drexel University, the two-day workshop brought together…
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March 27, 2019

Three Questions for Giuseppe Basili

For our most recent newsletter, we interviewed Giuseppe “Seppy” Basili, the executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (JKCF), a foundation dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. In this interview, Basili addresses how JKCF’s mission has evolved, what new initiatives it is undertaking, and the challenges the foundation faces as it seeks greater access to higher education for high-achieving, low-income students.  1. You’ve been with…
March 26, 2019

March Madness: Socioeconomic Diversity Edition

At Ithaka S+R, one of our primary missions is to expand educational opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds. Some of our programs, including the American Talent Initiative which aims to increase the number of lower-income students enrolled at the top colleges and universities in the country, focus on increasing socioeconomic diversity at higher education institutions, while others focus on improving outcomes for lower income, first generation, and underrepresented minority students at the colleges and universities where they are already more…
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 21, 2019

Understanding the Value of the Liberal Arts

Last year, Catharine Bond Hill and Elizabeth Davidson Pisacreta undertook a study on the economic benefits and costs of a liberal arts education on behalf of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. As they note in the report, critics claim that the value of a liberal arts education–in terms of both the increasing costs to delivering higher education and in students’ diminished earnings–is limited, especially compared to alternative…
March 15, 2019

Two New Ithaka S+R Analyst Job Openings

Are you passionate about evidence-based approaches to improving higher education and the arts? Ithaka S+R has two new positions to support our dynamic research on libraries, scholarly communication, and museums. Our work helps these organizations better support scholarship, instruction, community engagement, and student success by empowering them to gather and effectively utilize evidence that supports strong decision-making about strategic direction and service offerings. Our new analyst positions provide unique opportunities to conduct and publish major research…
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,…
February 28, 2019

Landscape of Library Service Quality Tools

During the course of the past year, I have had a chance to speak with many assessment librarians, library deans, and others in academic libraries about the types of tools they are using, or considering, for their planning and assessment projects. We typically connect because they have fielded, or are thinking about fielding, one or more of the Ithaka S+R Local Surveys, which primarily focus on the ways in which students and faculty…
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February 25, 2019

On Being Student-Centered

Reflections on the CCLASSS Project and DREAM 2019

What does it mean for us to be student-centered in our work at Ithaka S+R? In our collaborative research initiative on student success and community college libraries, the Community College Libraries & Academic Support for Student Success (CCLASSS) project, being student-centered means that we have positioned student voices as not only valuable but essential to our work. While our ultimate aim for the CCLASSS project is to design new library…
February 21, 2019

Reflections on PASIG

Advancing Digital Preservation Through Community Cultivation

From February 12-14, I attended the PASIG Conference where 150 individuals from 12 countries gathered to share experiences and insights on organizational, technical, social, business, and political aspects of digital preservation and archiving. Digital preservation involves the management and endurance of digital objects to ensure the authenticity, accessibility, and usability of content over time in the face of technological and organizational changes. Since 2007, the Preservation and Archiving Special Interest Group (…
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February 13, 2019

The Right Tool for the Job

Fostering Strategic Approaches to User Research

In October 2018 we had the opportunity to engage with attendees to at the Digital Library Federation (DLF) conference about fostering strategic approaches to digital library assessment. During the session we briefly presented a framework for thinking through various user research avenues and related methodologies (suggesting that the user survey isn’t the only useful tool libraries could employ even if we use them a lot!) and then invited participants to consider what they…
January 29, 2019

Do Physical Books Still Spark Joy?

On the Material Reality of Today’s Academic Libraries

Marie Kondo of Tidying Up, the decluttering-as-self help phenomenon, recently met controversy for declaring that she strictly limits the number of books in her home to thirty. She has since clarified that the optimal physical book collection size is a personal metric, however, the underlying controversy echoes an issue that many academic libraries are facing around the role and presence of physical books.
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January 29, 2019

National Study Examines How Book Acquisitions at Academic Libraries Have Evolved

Library Acquisition Patterns

Academic books are an important part of scholarship and have traditionally been integral to academic libraries as they develop collections to support the research needs of students and faculty members. However, as library budgets shrink and students and scholars turn toward away from the liberal arts, university presses and other associated organizations have begun to express concern that book sales are in decline. But another phenomenon started happening simultaneously in this industry: Amazon began selling academic books, competing for customers…
January 28, 2019

Museums Grow More Diverse, But Change is Uneven

Today we are pleased to announce the publication of the Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey 2018. In partnership with the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Ithaka S+R has conducted a study of the demographics of the art museum field. This report builds on findings from the  Art Museum Demographic Survey we conducted in 2015, showing that, while some meaningful progress has been made towards…
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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