Sudden Thoughts And Second Thoughts

Clearinghouse Makes It Easy To Track All The Rankings

When I last wrote about rankings I mentioned the growing number of different higher education rankings, everything from the top green campus institutions to the best party schools. I actually had no idea how many different rankings there were, but now I can find out much more easily. The Institute for Higher Education Policy has created a new clearinghouse on higher education rankings. Not only does it include rankings for US higher education, but it is international as well. My scan of the US rankings suggests that the focus is on academic quality, rather than a truly comprehensive listing of every ranking list on all dimensions of the higher education experience (e.g., the party school ranking isn’t anywhere to be found here). So this is a good start but I’d urge the IHEP folks to broden their definition of higher education rankings to make this list a true one-stop shopping location for all things “ranked”.

Library Budget Blues

In my routine foraging for higher education news items for Kept-Up Academic Librarian it seems the number of articles about the impact of the global financial meltdown on higher education has skyrocketed. The pain is being felt across the board. Whether it’s endowments evaporating, donations drying up, inability to provide financial aid, building projects hitting the skids or students dropping out the news is all bad. I imagine we are all getting the bad news on our own campuses (Pennsylvania IHEs that receive state funds are losing 4.5% of their funding) and hearing it from our colleagues. Mark Herring, Dean of Library Services at Winthrop University shared the bad news that PASCAL, Partnerships Among South Carolina Academic Libraries is in dire jeopardy. It’s budget was cut 90% this year and the prospects of reinstating it are grim at best. I’ve heard from at least two colleagues that they expect there will be layoffs at their academic libraries. I used to be at a private institution. While the tuition-driven budget was lean the lack of state funding meant state budget cuts didn’t affect us. But with so many students likely to face difficulty getting tuition loans, even the tuition-driven institutions could be badly affected in this economic crisis. It’s likely to get worse, but those of us who have been around for a while know that these downturns are cyclical. Things will improve eventually. For now, we are all likely to feel some pain.

Open The Library Up Now!

Ever worry that students will be up in arms over your decision to shut the library early the day before a holiday or when you close the doors when the rest of the campus has the day off? Well at Whitman College the Library closed early, at 10 pm, the night before Fall Break. Two students who weren’t happy about that took direct action and went right to the President’s house. They knocked on his door at 10:45 pm to complain. Guess what happened? The library re-opened at 11:15 pm. What did the president have to say? “Amid the challenges of higher education these days, it gives me great pleasure to know that our students have their priorities straight.” Nobody asked the librarians at Whitman College what they thought of it. (Reported at Inside Higher Education on Oct. 13, 2008).

They Finally Took My Advice

By now you have probably read somewhere that the American Library Association has made several of its publications more freely available. Both the current issue and archives of American Libraries and the weekly newsletter AL Direct have been set free of their shackles. No longer must a librarian (or anyone for that matter) be an ALA member in order to view full text in these two publications. I bring this up primarily because of a post I wrote on January 11, 2006 titled “ALA – Set This Newsletter Free“. It took ALA a while but I’m glad they finally took my suggestion. I guess if I’m going to criticize ALA when I think they need to change, I should also applaud their efforts when they do.

2 thoughts on “Sudden Thoughts And Second Thoughts”

  1. Sorry Steven, but I have a small correction. It appears that Whitman College closed its library early a day earlier, the day before the last day of classes. From the Inside Higher Ed story:

    “Fall break started after classes on Friday, and breaks are the only time the library closes. Somehow the library closed at 10 p.m. last Thursday and the students were upset that they couldn’t get in more study time.”

    Amazing that no one on the library staff figured this out beforehand. But I do wonder who they got to come in and staff the library at that hour.

  2. As a Whitman student, you greatly misrepresent what happened. Click my “website” for the article. The short version is that the library closed a day early, against the schedule posted on all the doors. Once informed, the President called the librarian to his house, where a joint decision was made to re-open the building.

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