Keeping Up With... COVID-19 and Campus Advocacy

The COVID-19 pandemic has created much uncertainty for higher education funding. Libraries are finding themselves in increasingly more complex fiscal situations, with layoffs, furloughs, and budget reductions being announced and anticipated. ACRL has a variety of resources to help you navigate the current landscape and advocate for your library on campus.

Advocating for Library Workers During Uncertain Times Blog Series

In this three-part series on Advocating for Library Workers During Uncertain Times, library leaders from institutions of all sizes discuss practical strategies for engaging campus administrators in conversations that emphasize the importance of supporting library employees and the critical work they are doing for their students and organizations.

"Library Advocacy Best Practices" by Cynthia Simpson: "Advocacy is defined as the work done to promote a group of people or specific cause, and effective advocacy can present a myriad of variations across a wide spectrum of situations. Successful advocacy efforts at a research institution with a healthy endowment may not be applicable at a smaller, private institution that is tuition driven. Moreover, this does not imply that, because the outcomes are different, that the advocacy employed at the smaller institution is ineffective. When advocating, be honest with yourself, your situation, and your expectations. Evaluate your needs versus your wants. Realistic expectations and plans will be far easier to work with than the unobtainable. Being able to effectively and successfully advocate involves identifying and understanding your audience, crafting a message that is specific for that audience, and selecting the right delivery method."

"Collecting and Presenting Meaningful Library Impact Data" by Devin Savage: "There are a number of ways to collect and present data, and having an understanding of the mission of one’s parent institution is a good first step in starting any data-based advocacy project. If there are goals related to community engagement, research excellence, or distinctive scholarship, then the argument and the data I provide will need to speak to the priorities of the institution. My institution is focused on student success, so I have utilized data from both national and local studies of library services and resources correlated to student retention, achievement, and/or graduation rates. This is a difficult topic, and I only hope to briefly share my own musings here on the different ways I try to use data as evidence in an attempt to advocate for the good of my institution and my workforce."

"Furloughs and Layoffs: Advocating for Library Workers" by Kristin Henrich: "Faced with uncertainties about fall enrollments and the impacts of the continuing pandemic, colleges and universities are bracing for significant financial challenges and reduced budgets. Academic libraries may have varying degrees of autonomy in how they respond to budget cuts, and may be in different phases of budget planning. Some libraries may be in the beginning stages of strategizing for a range of budget cuts, while others may be scrambling to implement university-mandated furloughs or layoffs. Library administrators can and should advocate for library workers in budget discussions. Effective advocacy includes gathering data and making the case for prioritizing library workers’ employment security to university administration."

Advocating for Library Workers During Uncertain Times Webcast

Offered as part of the Academic Librarianship in the Wake of the Coronavirus series, "Advocating for Library Workers During Uncertain Times" features library leaders discussing practical strategies for engaging campus administrators in conversations that emphasize the importance of supporting library employees and the critical work they are doing for their students and organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 ACRL/SPARC Forum: Navigating the Current Budget Crisis While Creating a More Sustainable, Values-Aligned Future for Research

Libraries are facing a period of serious financial hardship while simultaneously navigating the shift to a system for sharing scholarship that is open by default. The decisions libraries make in the coming months in response to the budgetary impact of COVID-19 will have important consequences for the future of research infrastructure.

The latest ACRL/SPARC forum focused on this challenge — exploring how different institutions are re-evaluating their relationships with vendors, seeking to align their spend with their values, and keeping an eye on the long-term consequences of urgent decisions that need to be made in the short term.


Additional COVID-19 information is available on the ACRL Pandemic Resources for Academic Libraries LibGuide. The guide features resources for distance education and engagement, free professional development resources, best practices, and up-to-date information from public health officials.