LETTER TO THE EDITOR

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR Powered By Docstoc
					Thomas H. Hogan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . President and CEO
                                                                                                         Proving Your Worth
Roger R. Bilboul . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chairman of the Board                              by DICK KASER   |
Richard T. Kaser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Vice President, Content

Barbara Brynko . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Editor-in-Chief                        T     here’s no denying that libraries have been brutalized by the
                                                                                                                                    current recession, especially public libraries.
                                                                                                                                  There’s not just mere talk of shutting down branches. Branches
Deborah Poulson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Editorial Services Manager
                                                                                                                               are being shut down, including 12–16 branches (at the time we go to
Cindy Martine, Bill Stewart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Copy Editors
                                                                                                                               press) at the trend-setting Charlotte & Mecklenburg public library
Michael Baumann, Kurt Schiller . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Assistant Editors
                                                                                                                               chain in North Carolina, which is facing a $17 million budget cut.
Celeste Peterson-Sloss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Proofreader                              A survey of 835 libraries conducted by the Charleston Confer-
Paula J. Hane . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . News Bureau Chief                            ence in 2009 found that funding for 1 in 4 libraries in the U.S. and
                                                                                                                               U.K. decreased more than 10% in 2009, with 1 in 3 academic and
Vol. 27 | Issue 6 |          June 2010                                                                   public libraries expecting additional cuts in 2010. A JISC (Joint Information Systems
                                                                                                         Committee) study confirms the trend and projects that U.K. academic libraries will be
                                                                                                         hit hardest in 2011.
                                                                                                             Consequences of these cutbacks include branch closings as well as abbreviated hours
                                                                                                         of operation, reduced staff counts, declines in physical collections and/or digital infor-

               LETTER TO THE EDITOR                                                                      mation services, and ongoing pressure to scale back on the deals libraries make with
                                                                                                         big journal publishers for digital resources.
                                                                                                             On the bright side, some view this as a half-full glass, an opportunity in the making
Dear Editor:                                                                                             and a chance for libraries to assess their strengths and reposition for the future. I side

A      s a career archivist, past president of the Society of American Ar-
       chivists, and a past member of the U.S. National Historical Publications
and Records Commission, [National Archives and Records Administration]
                                                                                                         with the camp that takes the high road. In that regard, I’ve come across some inter-
                                                                                                         esting ammunition for those facing the budget ax. After all, it could be you next time.
                                                                                                             At the NFAIS (National Federation of Advanced Information Services) annual con-
grant-making agency, I find several aspects of Ms. Drake’s article to be of                              ference this spring, Paula Kaufman (University of Illinois) reviewed the results of her
concern [April 2010 IT, “Interview With David Ferriero: A New Mission for                                ongoing research project aimed at measuring academic library ROI based on the role
the Librarian Archivist at NARA” by Miriam A. Drake].                                                    that library resources play in a university’s grant-funding initiatives (http://liber
    I have had the privilege to know several previous Archivists of the United                           .library.uu.nl/publish/articles/000269/article.pdf).
States, and while Mr. Ferriero’s two immediate predecessors were respectively                                On the upside, Kaufman’s Phase II study results show that for every $1 spent by a
an historian and a state governor, the seven before them were archivists.                                research university, up to $15 is returned in grant-funding income. And that $15 is not
Ms. Drake appears to be unfamiliar with this branch of the information pro-                              peanuts. However, the ROI varies based on the nature of the institution and the level
fessions, but she should learn that there are significant differences between                            of grant funding it is capable of receiving. For example, some liberal arts institutions
archives and libraries.                                                                                  regrettably see only a 1-1 ROI at best. Of course, the payoff for academic libraries is
    The primary one is the fundamental nature of archival materials, which                               not just in research money, so the University of Illinois study will continue to look at
require quite different approaches to determining which records are appro-                               other benchmarks to assess library ROI. For public libraries, the Institute of Museum
priate for archival preservation, and then how they are organized, described,                            and Library Services recently reported that 169 million people in the U.S. (69% of the
and controlled once they are in archival custody. Archivists share concerns                              population) visited libraries last year and that 77 million of them went there to use the
for preservation and reference services with librarians, but the professional                            internet. This implies that public libraries are preventing a digital divide from occur-
staff of the National Archives are archivists, not librarians, and that is how                      
				
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