The new Ithaka Report is out. According to a summary in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “[between 2003 and 2006], faculty members across the disciplines have shown a marked decline in how devoted they are to libraries as information portals. Eighty percent of humanities scholars are still devoted to library research—although that may be not because they’re traditionalists but because they can’t yet get what they need in digital form. But only 48 percent of economists and 50 percent of scientists value libraries as gateways.” We could talk about the nuances of those findings all day.
But what I found even more interesting was that the Chronicle article linked to Stephen Bell’s commentary on ACRL’s blog. Bell commented about The Question they Forgot to Ask, which is about the importance of libraries’ emerging instructional role.
Bell’s analysis has since been commented by both authors of the Ithaka study. Roger Schonfeld clarified some questions about the data set and wrote, “I’ve made a note of your suggestion that we add a question about the learning partner role should we pursue a 2009 faculty survey. Through other research areas and our affiliated organization NITLE, we have an ongoing interest in the support of teaching and learning, and these surveys could do a better job of addressing these interests.” Then Ross Housewright wrote “I took a look at the data to see how questions addressing the value of the library varied between faculty who self-reported seeing themselves as more of a teacher or as more of a researcher. In general, more faculty who considered themselves as primarily teachers felt that the role of the library had continuing importance than did those faculty who considered themselves primarily researchers.” (for the full text see the comments to Bell’s post). It’s really heartening that the authors of studies are reading the posts and taking the recommendations seriously and I hope there is a new study that takes on these questions.