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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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January 16, 2019

Supporting Civil and Environmental Engineering Research

Recommendations by and for Academic Librarians

In Ithaka S+R’s newest Research Support Services project – highlighted in our capstone report released today – we partnered with teams at 11 academic libraries in the United States and Canada to study the research practices and support needs of civil and environmental engineering scholars. (They join teams at 77 other universities who have participated in similar Ithaka S+R-led projects, including Asian studies and public…
January 16, 2019

Engineering for Impact: Practices of Civil and Environmental Engineering Scholars

The latest installment in Ithaka S+R’s series of Research Support Services projects investigates the research practices and support needs of civil and environmental engineering scholars. Today we are excited to publish the project’s capstone report. The field of civil and environmental engineering tackles pressing issues relating to our built and natural environments – from climate change to urban drinking water, bridge and highway upkeep to natural disaster planning. The need for research solutions to these problems…
January 16, 2019

Announcing a New Project on Teaching with Primary Sources

We are excited to announce a new research project designed to support effective teaching with primary sources. Teaching undergraduates with primary sources promotes student engagement and critical thinking skills and is a key ingredient in the current pedagogical push toward “inquiry-based” or “research-led” learning.* Although leveraging physical collections remains important, technological affordances have additionally transformed possibilities for teaching with primary sources: not only by increasing content availability, but by enabling digital discovery, curation, and annotation. The…
January 14, 2019

Defining Academic Support Services in Community Colleges

Last year, Ithaka S+R, along with a team of outstanding advisors from a variety of community colleges and college systems, embarked on the first phase of the Community College Academic and Student Services Ecosystem (CCASSE) project, a new research initiative to examine and develop recommendations for how academic support services can more effectively support student success. The project was inspired by earlier findings from the Community College Libraries and Academic Support for…
January 10, 2019

New Report: Enrolling More Veterans at High-Graduation-Rate Colleges and Universities

In November, Ithaka S+R and the College Board hosted “Improving Opportunities for Veterans.” This conference brought together leaders from higher education, the military, and veterans service organizations who share the goal of increasing the enrollment and graduation of veterans at colleges and universities with the highest graduation rates. In our new report with Catharine Bond Hill and Martin Kurzweil, we investigate the underrepresentation of United States military veterans at colleges that graduate at least 70 percent of their students.
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January 9, 2019

Redoubling Our Commitment to Museums and the Arts

In recent years, Ithaka S+R has completed a number of major research and advisory projects focusing on the museums, arts, and cultural communities. In 2019, we are redoubling our commitment through a number of new projects and growth on our team. Many in the museums community are most familiar with Ithaka S+R because of our ongoing partnership with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), and the American Alliance of…
January 9, 2019

CNI Fall Meeting Presentation on the State of Digital Preservation

Video Recording Now Available

At CNI’s Fall Meeting in December, we had the pleasure of presenting some of the highlights from the recent Ithaka S+R brief on the state of digital preservation. It was one of the talks selected for recording and is now available on CNI’s YouTube and Vimeo channels. At CNI, we shared some of what we have learned to gather feedback and additional perspectives…
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January 3, 2019

Meet the Surveys Team

The Ithaka S+R surveys team has continued to grow to support our exciting and expanding portfolio of projects, including the US Faculty Survey, US Library Director Survey, Local Surveys program, Community College Libraries & Academic Support for Student Success (CCLASSS) project, and the Community College Academic and Student Services Ecosystem (CCASSE) project. Through these and…
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