The collections budget began painting us into a corner nearly two decades
ago, and as a result, some institutions began to spend these funds in ways we
would not have found broadly “permissible” a decade earlier. I am not
criticizing those expenditures specifically, but has it led us to choose to make
certain expenditures because they can be paid for from the collections budget,
rather than their being subjected to the competitive light of day?
More importantly, however, has the current concept of the collections
budget produced imbalances in our expenditures, reducing our ability to
add new skill sets and to invest in technologies needed to enable 21st-century
knowledge creation? Has it established adversarial divisions among our
managers? Does it limit our capacity to pursue cooperative solutions that
have the capacity to enhance the resources of many universities? And perhaps
most importantly, does it prevent us from being able to tell our university
administrators how we could truly enhance our contribution to university
success if we had appropriate funding?
Conclusion
During this forum, you have heard provocative descriptions of the information
universe in which we live and bold suggestions regarding steps necessary in
creating a 21st-century environment for knowledge creation. Embracing
collaborative solutions and involving a broad spectrum of expertise within and
beyond the library, we have tough choices to make. But they are very exciting
choices. It is a moment in which we can choose to serve our institutions in new
and critical ways, achieving resonance with the principal goals and aspirations
of our universities and creating roles essential to tomorrow’s success.
1
An audio recording of the complete session, including the author’s and John Lombardi’s remarks, is
available on the ARL website at
http://www.arl.org/resources/pubs/fallforumproceedings/forum11.shtml.
2
F. Gerald Ham, “Archival Choices: Managing the Historical Record in an Age of Abundance,”
American Archivist 47, no. 1 (Winter 1984), 11–22.
3
Rick Anderson, “The Crisis in Research Librarianship,” Journal of Academic Librarianship 37, no. 4 (July
2011), 289–290. Also listen to the audio recording of Rick Anderson’s presentation at the ARL-CNI Fall
Forum, available on the ARL website at
http://www.arl.org/resources/pubs/fallforumproceedings/forum11.shtml.
4
Natasha Singer, “When the Data Struts Its Stuff,” New York Times, April 2, 2011,
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/03/business/03stream.html.
RLI 277
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Rebalancing the Investment in Collections
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C O N T I N U E D
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DECEMBER 2011 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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