This fall, we will field the triennial Ithaka S+R Library Survey for the fourth time. The survey examines strategy and leadership issues from the perspective of academic library deans and directors, and through this project, we aim to understand the opportunities and challenges they face in leading their organizations. This project serves as a strong complement to our work with a variety of other communities of academic librarians and is intended to ensure we capture the leadership perspective as well.

In preparation, we have had the privilege of speaking with a fantastic group of advisors who have helped to inform our focus for the upcoming cycle. The Library Survey 2019 will be designed to continue tracking critical trends in library leadership from previous cycles while at the same time introducing new questions to address issues of current strategic importance. The members of our advisory board who are contributing to our thematic priorities for our questionnaire are:

  • Jerome Conley, Dean & University Librarian, Miami University 
  • Trevor Dawes, Vice Provost for Libraries and Museums and May Morris University Librarian, University of Delaware
  • Jennifer Fabbi, Dean of the University Library, California State University at San Marcos
  • Alexia Hudson-Ward, Azariah Smith Root Director of Libraries, Oberlin College
  • Brian Keith, Associate Dean for Administrative Services and Faculty Affairs, University of Florida Libraries
  • Sarah Pickle, Director of Organizational Planning and Assessment, The Claremont Colleges Libraries
  • Brigitte Shull, Senior Vice President for Academic Publishing in the Americas, Cambridge University Press
  • Mackenzie Smith, University Librarian and Vice Provost of Digital Scholarship, UC Davis
  • Enrique Yanez, Assistant Dean for Human Resources, New York University Libraries

We are grateful to this group for their time and generosity in sharing insights to shape this important project. Our conversations with these individuals, reflections on key findings from the previous survey cycle, and emerging topics of interest with the broader academic community have guided us towards the following topics for possible expansion in this project:

  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion: How are libraries implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives? Do stated priorities align with practices? How does the overall campus climate impact the library’s initiatives? Are these initiatives ones that the library is pursuing individually or collaboratively with other institutional entities?
  • Changes in scholarly communication: How have shifts toward open access and open educational resources impacted libraries in supporting teaching and learning? How are library directors and other leaders negotiating deals with publishers? What factors are influential in the consideration of cancelling these deals? For those considering cancellations, what alternative modes of access might be provided or recommended to scholars?
  • Communication strategies with important stakeholders: How do library directors communicate the value of their organizations to important stakeholders? What communication strategies and types of evidence are most effective with senior academic leadership? 
  • Changes in the library director role: How have the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for library director positions changed over time? What are considered most valuable? How have responsibilities within and outside of the purview of the library evolved over time? To what extent do library directors feel that they have been adequately prepared for new roles of the library?
  • Evaluating student success: What does “student success” mean to library directors? Who is responsible for ensuring success and to what extent are libraries contributing with others to enable it? How have budget cuts impacted the library’s ability to contribute to student success? What metrics are important in evaluating and demonstrating contributions to student success?
  • Data privacy: What challenges do library directors face in protecting user privacy, particularly given initiatives to demonstrate impact? What plans have libraries developed to anticipate requests for user data?  How are efforts being coordinated with the rest of their institutions? How are libraries negotiating relevant policies with third-party providers?

It will be impossible to cover all these topics fully in just this one project, but we intend to be guided by these proposed areas of coverage as we revise our questionnaire for this project and consider future project development. Over the next couple of months we will be developing, iterating on, and testing a revised questionnaire. We look forward to continuing to share updates on our progress.