Have Tutorial Library Staffing Numbers Actually Declined That A lot Over the Previous Decade? — science weblog

The primary draft of this weblog put up was written earlier than I revealed a put up on 1/22 titled How Do Tutorial Libraries Spend Their Cash? 

That preliminary put up generated some robust reactions on Twitter, each optimistic and detrimental — and lots of emails.

My understanding of the critiques of that unique put up (critiques that I welcome) have been that: A. I didn’t do sufficient analysis to reply the questions I used to be posing. B. The concept educational library budgets are fungible exhibits ignorance of how these budgets work. C. I ought to have reached out on to educational librarians to reply the questions posed.

Once more, honest criticism. Over the previous couple of weeks, I labored with a variety of educational librarians and an skilled in larger ed finance to create a sequence of Q&As that explored educational library funding.  These Q&As included:

For the IPEDS knowledge that I’m surfacing under, I wish to lengthen the identical invitation to the tutorial library neighborhood to assist make sense of the numbers.

One of many variables within the IPEDS dataset is employees by employment standing and occupational class, from which the variety of librarians, curators, and archivists could be examined.

The info out there spans from 2012 to 2020. Here’s what it seems like:


2020        38,510

2019        40,884

2018        41,479

2017        41,490

2016        41,993

2015        42,782

2014        43,610

2013        44,677

2012        67,074

Undecided why there was such a big drop between 2013 and 2012. In all probability some change in how library employees are counted.

Even when we begin 2013 in comparison with 2020, the decline in library staffing seems massive.

Have educational libraries misplaced ~14% of their employees over the previous decade?

The whole variety of folks employed at postsecondary establishments solely declined by 2.5% between 2013 and 2020, from 3,969,226 to three,868,066

These knowledge inform me that educational libraries are shedding a disproportionate variety of employees in comparison with different elements of the college.

What’s going on?

From every little thing I’ve seen, the calls for on educational libraries have solely elevated over the previous decade. Libraries appear to remain open later and are open extra typically. College students and school depend upon educational librarians for collaboration in studying and analysis.

The vary of digital, knowledge, scholarly, and studying companies that educational libraries supply has elevated — whereas the variety of folks employed by educational libraries has considerably declined.

So, three questions:

1) Why is educational library headcount dropping?

2) What’s the end-point of this pattern?

3) How are educational libraries managing with fewer folks?

In fact, the massive query is, what’s the influence on instructional and scholarship high quality if educational libraries are shrinking?

You probably have perception, knowledge, and perspective on these questions — and are prepared to do a Q&A — please attain out.

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