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 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 4 Natasha Singer, “When the Data Struts Its Stuff,” New York Times, April 2, 2011, RLI 277 7 Rebalancing the Investment in Collections ( C O N T I N U E D ) DECEMBER 2011 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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