Category Archives: Libraries & Museums

National Snapshot of COVID-19 Impact on United States Museums

Source: American Alliance of Museums and Wilkening Consulting, November 2020

From the summary:
Between October 15-28, AAM and Seattle-based Wilkening Consulting conducted the second iteration of a survey of 850 museum directors to assess the impacts of COVID-19 on the museum field. The survey asked the same questions as the first National Snapshot of COVID-19 Impact on United States Museums conducted in June, and gathered some new data and benchmark metrics for members. Museum directors responded to the AAM survey on behalf of their organizations, representing a broad cross-section of the field geographically, by size, and by discipline.

The sample of 850 museums provides a confidence level of 95 percent with a confidence interval of 3 percent for the population of AAM member museums. The data filters (by museum type, geographic region, and museum operating expenses) have smaller numbers and therefore higher margins of error. The research was conducted by AAM and Seattle-based firm, Wilkening Consulting.

Findings from the new AAM survey show museums are suffering prolonged stress and are anticipating a difficult and slow recovery:

  • Nearly 30% of museums in the United States remain closed due to the pandemic.
  • Nearly one-third of museum directors surveyed confirmed there was a “significant risk” (12%) of closing permanently by next fall, or they “didn’t know” (17%) if they would survive.
  • Over half (52%) of museums have six months or less of operating reserves; 82% have twelve months or less of operating reserves.
  • Over half (53%) of responding museums have had to furlough or lay off staff. Overall, respondents indicate that approximately 30% of staff are currently out of work. Positions most impacted by staffing reductions included frontline (68%), education (40%), security/maintenance (29%), and collections (26%) staff.
  • To prepare for reopening, each museum spent, on average, $27,000, with this figure cited as high as $750,000.
  • On average, each respondent has lost $850k in revenue due to the pandemic so far this year.
  • On average, respondents anticipated losing approximately 35% of the museum’s budgeted operating income in 2020 and are anticipating losing an additional 28% of normal operating income in 2021.
  • While museums are creatively replacing traditional revenue models, digital fundraising event revenues are falling 34% short of these traditionally in-person activities.
  • Museums are operating at, on average, 35% of their capacity–an attendance reduction that is unsustainable long-term.

Related:
Press Release

Libraries Reopen in COVID-19 Hot Spots: Are Library Staff Being Protected?

Source: Lindsey Williams, BookRiot, August 18, 2020

Arizona has made headlines quite often this summer as the state’s COVID-19 cases soared. As of August 13, the CDC reports that Arizona currently ranks third in cases per capita, falling only behind Louisiana and New York City.

In the state’s most populous county, Maricopa, two major library systems have yet to reopen. The Phoenix Public Library System, which has 17 branches located throughout the Phoenix area, states on their website that it “continues to remain closed to in-building visits in order to ensure we are doing all we can to keep our community and staff safe during our ongoing response to the Coronavirus pandemic.” The Maricopa County Library District, which has 20 branches located throughout the county, has also remained closed “in order to ensure we are doing all we can to keep our staff and community safe during this crisis.”

Despite this, several city libraries in Maricopa County made the decision to reopen, some as early as June 1. This begs the question: If the two major library systems in Maricopa County remain closed to the public to ensure the safety of their staff and patrons, what are the libraries that have chosen to reopen doing to protect their own?

US academic libraries’ staffing and expenditure trends (1996–2016)

Source: Starr Hoffman, Samantha Godbey, Library Management, Vol. 41 No. 4/5, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Purpose:
This paper explores trends over time in library staffing and staffing expenditures among two- and four-year colleges and universities in the United States.

Design/methodology/approach:
Researchers merged and analyzed data from 1996 to 2016 from the National Center for Education Statistics for over 3,500 libraries at postsecondary institutions. This study is primarily descriptive in nature and addresses the research questions: How do staffing trends in academic libraries over this period of time relate to Carnegie classification and institution size? How do trends in library staffing expenditures over this period of time correspond to these same variables?

Findings:
Across all institutions, on average, total library staff decreased from 1998 to 2012. Numbers of librarians declined at master’s and doctoral institutions between 1998 and 2016. Numbers of students per librarian increased over time in each Carnegie and size category. Average inflation-adjusted staffing expenditures have remained steady for master’s, baccalaureate and associate’s institutions. Salaries as a percent of library budget decreased only among doctoral institutions and institutions with 20,000 or more students.

Originality/value:
This is a valuable study of trends over time, which has been difficult without downloading and merging separate data sets from multiple government sources. As a result, few studies have taken such an approach to this data. Consequently, institutions and libraries are making decisions about resource allocation based on only a fraction of the available data. Academic libraries can use this study and the resulting data set to benchmark key staffing characteristics.

Promotion: An Intractable Management Problem for Academic and Public Libraries

Source: Robert P. Holley, Journal of Library Administration, Vol. 60 no. 5, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The lack of opportunities for promotion within libraries may be an important reason for job dissatisfaction and lowered morale. This column examines reasons why librarians wish to be promoted, the two paths for promotion, a short history of promotion since 1945, how promotions occur, why promotion is a challenge for management, and some suggestions to alleviate the problem. The corporate promotion model requires moving into a position with increased responsibilities and is often the only model in public libraries. The academic promotion model also offers the possibility of promotion for increased performance of the same duties, usually according to more formal rules. A blocked path for promotion can lead to leaving the library for opportunities elsewhere or create morale problems. Library managers can take some steps to increase promotion opportunities and sustain morale. The concluding section briefly argues the opposing viewpoint that the current state of promotion may benefit the profession as a whole if not some individual librarians.

Pandemic Impacts on Library Consortia and Their Sustainability

Source: George Machovec, Journal of Library Administration, Vol. 60 no. 5, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Library consortia are planning on how their funding, programs, and services may need to change with the societal tumult caused by the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. Most consortia in North America are either state agencies or non-profit corporations which may have different approaches and options available for solving substantial budget shortfalls. Changes may need to take place in staffing, programs, and services. Some consortia may have financial portfolios which may help on filling-in budget holes. Other consortia have applied for, and received, funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to help with staffing. Many library consortia will not see a quick recovery but may have long-term consequences as their member libraries and parent organizations try to recover.

Working from Home: How We Managed Our Team Remotely with Technology

Source: Monica D. T. Rysavy & Russell Michalak, Journal of Library Administration, Vol. 60 no. 5, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the College’s library and the office of institutional research & training (OIRT), along with all departments of our college, shifted to working from home (WFH) overnight. This column shares examples from the literature regarding experiences and lessons learned from both the corporate world and academic libraries’ experiences managing teams remotely with technology. Finally, we share how the College’s academic library and OIRT transitioned to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic with the variety of online tools we already used, but further enhanced during this experience, to communicate and collaborate effectively with our team members.

Academic Librarian Burnout: A Survey Using the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory (CBI)

Source: Barbara A. Wood, Ana B. Guimaraes, Christina E. Holm, Sherrill W. Hayes & Kyle R. Brooks, Journal of Library Administration, Vol. 60 no. 5, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In the Spring of 2018, the authors administered the highly validated and reliable Copenhagen Burnout Inventory work-related sub-scale to 1,628 academic librarians employed within the United States. Academic librarians reported a total work-related burnout score of 49.6. Overall, female participants who were 35–44 years of age reported the highest levels of work-related burnout with males and older individuals reporting the lowest levels of work-related burnout. This study also revealed some interesting information about non-binary/third-gender librarians that suggests further research is warranted.

Perceptions of Work–Life Balance for Urban Academic Librarians: An Exploratory Study

Source: Tamara Townsend & Kimberley Bugg, Journal of Library Administration, Vol. 60 no. 5, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The topic of work–life balance (WLB) has gotten a lot of attention in popular literature, but there has been little library scholarship on the issue. This exploratory study presents the perceptions of 329 academic librarians on what they believe an ideal WLB looks like, and how it impacts their personal and professional responsibilities. The authors asked about strategies for a successful WLB, about overall job satisfaction, coping strategies, and more. The study is intended to prompt discussions of the topic, and lead to an exploration of how to continue to grow and support a strong workforce.

Maintaining Performance and Employee Engagement During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Source: Carine Risley, Journal of Library Administration, Vol. 60 no. 6, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article summarizes the key elements that led to a groundbreaking new approach to performance management. Applying research from industries beyond public libraries was essential to upending the way we manage our Human Resources and inspire people to do their best work. Staying true to evidence based practices and building habits were critical to establishing and maintaining successful new processes. San Mateo County Libraries’ performance approach has received a County STAR award and a ULC Innovation honor.

Contributory Factors to Academic Librarian Turnover: A Mixed-Methods Study

Source: Christina Heady, Amy F. Fyn, Amanda Foster Kaufman, Allison Hosier & Millicent Weber, Journal of Library Administration, Vol. 60 no. 6, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Motivation: Research has shown that high employee turnover is correlated with negative overall performance and increased costs.

Problem: While employee turnover has been a significant area of study in organizational psychology and human resources management, there are few recent studies related to employee turnover in academic libraries.

Approach: This study examined the reasons librarians identified for leaving one academic institution for another within a five-year period via an online survey.

Results: Results indicate that turnover within academic libraries is influenced by several factors related to work environment, compensation and benefits, job duties and personal needs.

Conclusion: Understanding why librarians leave their positions is the first step toward improving employee retention in academic libraries.