Skip to Main Content

Archive

Issue Brief
October 2, 2019

The Strategic Alignment of State Appropriations, Tuition, and Financial Aid Policies

In response to the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009, states reduced their expenditures on many public services and goods, including substantial cuts to higher education spending. Despite a strong economic recovery since the Great Recession and significant increases in student enrollment, most states’ spending on higher education has not returned to pre-recession levels. Reductions in state spending and rising costs have led a number of public colleges and universities to increase tuition, making college less affordable for many students…
Issue Brief
June 12, 2019

Setting a North Star

Motivations, Implications, and Approaches to State Postsecondary Attainment Goals

Higher education attainment goals can serve as a “north star” to guide states’ postsecondary policies, investments, and agendas. The extent to which state attainment goals lead to substantive improvements in college-going rates, college graduation rates, postsecondary credential attainment rates, and reductions in labor market skills gaps is as yet unclear. Further, the likelihood a state will meet its attainment goals varies by state and depends on contextual factors that are within and outside the purview of the education sector. In…
Issue Brief
June 6, 2019

What’s a Collection Anyway?

In 1953, Kenneth J. Braugh stated that the mission of Harvard’s library was to collect and preserve everything. Those days are long gone. For the last couple of decades, given the rapid expansion of scholarly content sources and types, even the best-funded research libraries have become cognizant that a comprehensive collection is an unattainable vision. Nevertheless, many research library mission statements continue to give prominence to their role in making the world’s knowledge accessible to a wide range of user…
Issue Brief
May 13, 2019

Data Communities

A New Model for Supporting STEM Data Sharing

As organizations and initiatives designed to promote STEM data sharing multiply – within, across, and outside academic institutions – there is a pressing need to decide strategically on the best ways to move forward. Central to this decision is the issue of scale. Is data sharing best assessed and supported on an international or national scale? By broad academic sector (engineering, biomedical)? By discipline? On a university-by-university basis? Or using another unit of analysis altogether? To the extent that there…
Issue Brief
April 9, 2019

Challenges to Higher Education’s Most Essential Purposes

In his 2000 Romanes Lecture, entitled “At a Slight Angle to the Universe, the University in a Digitized, Commercialized Age,” William Bowen anticipated many of the challenges higher education faces today. His incisive summary of the most important purposes of higher education offers a useful framework for assessing how higher education is fulfilling its uniquely important role supporting a vibrant democratic society. Those responsible for higher education’s well-being, including presidents, administrators, trustees, faculty, and government policy makers, would do well…
Issue Brief
April 9, 2019

Technology, Georgia Tech, and the Future of Learning

An Interview with Charles Isbell

I invited Charles Isbell, Professor of Computer Science at Georgia Tech to join me at the October 2018 Bowen Colloquium, a forward-looking gathering of college and university presidents and other leaders. In addition to his work in Artificial Intelligence, Professor Isbell is the Associate Dean in the College of Computing responsible for overseeing Georgia Tech’s Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMSCS). Our conversation covered a wide area, from the unsustainable costs of traditional modes of instruction to his…
Issue Brief
April 4, 2019

The Market, the American Dream, or Dreams of the Lottery

The Robert H. Atwell Plenary Address, ACE 2019

This paper was originally presented on March 10, 2019, as the Robert H. Atwell Plenary Address at ACE 2019 in Philadelphia. The income disparity in our country has been growing for 40 years, and this increasing inequality is putting pressure on the social cohesion of our nation. Commitment to our country’s institutions, including colleges and universities, and values, including equal opportunity and economic and social mobility, depends on everyone feeling that these institutions and values serve their welfare and their…
Tags:
Issue Brief
March 6, 2019

Restructuring Library Collaboration

Strategy, Membership, Governance

Academic libraries typically serve individual higher education institutions, yet their objectives require that they achieve greater negotiating power, more efficient distribution of collections, and stronger systems and services than even the largest academic library can provide itself. As a result, academic libraries have sought for more than a century to generate cross-institutional scale. In this paper, I examine efforts to generate that scale, including consortia and other membership organizations, which collectively I term “collaborative vehicles.” Yet collaboration is not good…
Issue Brief
January 24, 2019

Doing More, With More

Academic Libraries, Digital Services, and Revenue Generation

The axiom to “do more with less” in university research libraries is increasingly untenable, as budgets continue to shrink and demand for novel services continues to rise. The impacts of such existential uncertainties are self-evident and widely discussed in the current literature—staff burnout, lowered morale and increased toxicity, weakened local collections, and limited capacity for ambitious and genuinely innovative work. Like many institutions, the University of Maryland (UMD) Libraries has found itself reinventing many of its services and initiatives to…
Topics:
Issue Brief
November 28, 2018

Scholars ARE Collectors: A Proposal for Re-thinking Research Support

After fifteen years of digging into the research practices of scholars at Ithaka S+R, it is clear that scholars are collectors. We have found that they are creating and amassing increasingly complex personal collections of information over the course of their careers. These collections vary widely depending on the discipline and take many forms.
Issue Brief
October 29, 2018

The State of Digital Preservation in 2018

A Snapshot of Challenges and Gaps

Our cultural, historic, and scientific heritage is increasingly being produced and shared in digital forms. The ubiquity, pervasiveness, variability, and fluidity of such content raise a range of questions about the role of research libraries and archives in digital preservation in the face of rapid organizational and technological changes and evolving organizational priorities. Ithaka S+R is interested in exploring the current landscape of digital preservation programs and services in order to identify research and policy questions that will contribute to…
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…
Tags:
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,…