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ALA’s 2012 State of America’s Libraries: Academic Libraries

As academic librarians and their colleagues in higher education in the United States continued to navigate the “new normal,” characterized by stagnating budgets, unsustainable costs, increased student enrollments, and reduced staff, the pressure on higher education to demonstrate value took on new urgency and importance in 2011–2012. While several stinging reports concluded that learning outcomes for students in post-secondary institutions are limited and that students are “academically adrift” and do not work very hard, others saw a “value gap” and questioned whether going to any college at any price was worth it.

Given the new focus on academic rigor as part of the value proposition, the contributions of academic librarians to student learning and critical thinking assumed an even more important role than before. Most students entering college in the fall of 2011 acknowledged that they lacked the research skills needed to complete assignments and be successful in an information-intensive economy: a survey of incoming first-year students found that 60 % do not evaluate the quality or reliability of information; 75 % do not know how to locate research articles and resources; and 44 % do not know how to integrate knowledge from different sources.


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