Every three years Ithaka S+R conducts our library survey to track the changing strategic directions and priorities of the deans and directors of academic libraries. The data are gathered during a relatively brief window of approximately four weeks. In the case of this most recent survey cycle, that moment in time was the fall of 2019, well before any of us had heard of COVID-19.
In fall 2019, we invited library deans and directors at not-for-profit four-year academic institutions across the United States to complete the survey, and we received 662 responses for a response rate of 46 percent.
In this survey cycle, we added new coverage of three key topics: equity, diversity, and inclusion strategies, changes to collections strategies, and the library’s role in ensuring student success outcomes. The key findings below highlight many of the most notable results on these topics as well as longer-standing thematic areas of interest, both from the current cycle and over time.
- Library directors continue to perceive the value of their roles—and the roles of their libraries—as declining in the eyes of their supervisors and other higher education leaders.
- Student success remains a top objective for library directors and they see the contributions of their library toward this success most strongly in relation to increasing student learning and enhancing student well-being.
- Priorities continue to shift from collections to services.
- A declining share of directors expect to increase financial support for technology, systems, and infrastructure.
- Spending on electronic books now roughly equals that for print books.
- Half of library directors will likely cancel a major journal package in the next five years.