As we approach this year’s BookExpo America (BEA), it’s useful, perhaps especially to publishers, to contemplate where libraries fit into the broad book market. It’s hard to ignore just how fundamentally important libraries have become to the potential success of a book—that is, if you pay attention to a few simple facts and are willing to question persistent myths.
On March 12, academic research nonprofit Ithaka S+R released its latest survey of academic library leaders. Gathering input from 499 library deans and directors from institutions large and small, the new Library Survey—the first of its kind since 2010—paints a picture of the shifting priorities of modern academic libraries, the challenges they face, and the resources and leadership techniques they’re using to meet those challenges.
Controversy over reading selections at a pair of colleges in South Carolina last year has reared its head again, and this time it may result in budget cuts for the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate. The budget committee in the state House of Representatives recommended budget cuts totaling $70,000 for the two schools, which assigned incoming students and others to read literature about LGBT issues last year.
In recent years, the Chester Fritz Library at the University of North Dakota (UND) has been in a funding situation that may sound familiar to many academic librarians. While the budget for the library has been flat since 2008, annual largess from the university’s discretionary funds has kept the library from having to eliminate services. This year, though, those supplemental funds are not available, meaning that even without a cut, the library faces a gaping hole in its funding.
The water surrounding Queens Public Library (QPL) President and CEO Thomas W. Galante just keeps getting hotter. In the weeks since the New York Daily News published a story detailing his $392,000 annual salary and the pricey renovations done to his office while QPL branches were suffering staff cuts, Galante has consistently denied any wrongdoing, even while other city officials call on him to step down from the post he has held since 2005.
Late last month, the announcement that libraries at the University of North Texas (UNT) in Denton would have to cut $1.7 million from the materials budget sent staff and students around the campus into an uproar, with students and faculty flocking to defend a library system that they see as key to their success as scholars. While UNT Provost Warren Burrgren has walked those statements back in recent days and laid immediate concerns about budget cuts to rest, the controversy started a conversation on the campus about how the library should be funded that isn’t dying down, even as cuts to the library budget are halted or postponed.
Four months after Detroit filed for the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, retired Detroit Public Library (DPL) employees are still struggling with anxiety over the fate of their retirement benefits, which are all-but certain to be targeted for significant cuts as part of a wide-ranging strategy to return the troubled city to solvency.
As a result of the federal government shutdown, many resources that researchers, academics, and library patrons depend on—like the Library of Congress (LC) archives—have been rendered unavailable in the last week. The bad news is that, eight days in and with no clear end to this stalemate in sight, there’s no telling how long those resources might be on lock down. The good news is that a variety of other institutions are stepping up to fill in the gap and make sure a government shutdown doesn’t turn into an information shutdown.
As states across the nation tighten their belts, library budgets have landed on the chopping block more frequently in the past few years. This year, The Institute for Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS) received eight requests for Maintenance of Effort (MOE) waivers that would let states continue to receive previously approved matching grants through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) even though the funds they’re intended to match will not be provided. That’s more than the IMLS has received in any year since the financial downturn of 2008. Of the eight applicants, only three—Hawaii, Oklahoma, and South Carolina—were awarded waivers. The remaining five states—Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, and Texas—stand to lose federal funding as state legislatures fail to live up to their end of the LSTA grant agreements, which are meant to supplement state spending on library programs, rather than supplant it.