Tranforming libraries or muddling through

This article — ARL 234: Libraries Dealing with the Future Now — discusses work done at the University of Arizona to identify ways in which the library needs to reallocate attention and resources to be a viable iinsitutional player in a climate of continuing resource constraint. The work reported here takes its cue from the Project on the Future of Higher Education one of whose major thrusts is that institutions need to plan in the context of long-term public funding constraints, and not just muddle through current fiscal circumstances as if things were going to get better some time soon. The paper steps back and considers current choices in the light of possible futures. It deserves reading.

Our intention is that library professionals identify the strategies they have taken in the past and consider whether they were transforming or muddling through. If they are muddling through, the list above identifies actions that could be taken. Yet, if the status quo were working, why would a library take a more transformative approach? We believe that if libraries continue to muddle through, they will not ensure their viability on campus, nor will they be seen as leaders in transforming the campus, a role that we need if we are to effect change in scholarly communication and student learning. We also agree with Guskin and Marcy that most state-funded institutions will need to change if they are to keep student-costs low and maintain quality of faculty work-life. Each of these ideas is discussed in more detail later in this paper. [ARL 234: Libraries Dealing with the Future Now]

[Noted in ShelfLife, the paper has stuck a chord.]