Librarians = Bloat, Claims Goldwater Institute

A new report by a conservative watchdog group concludes the nation's universities have become less efficient over the years by dramatically increasing the number of administrators they hire per student.

"Like any addiction program, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Higher education needs to admit they have a problem of administrative bloat," said Jay Greene, the report's author and head of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas.

The debate over who is considered an administrator in public education is not a new one. Arizona K-12 schools have objected to the way they are evaluated in state audits. Employees fall into one of two categories: "classroom dollars" or "non-classroom dollars." Principals, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and librarians fall into the latter category, even though many parents consider them essential to schools. The Arizona Auditor General's Office has maintained that while classroom dollars shouldn't be the sole measure of evaluating a K-12 school, high spending outside the classroom is a potential sign of inefficient operations.

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Did somebody at that Arizona newspaper, or any of the officials at ASU, which the GI report highlights, actually READ the report itself? I actually did, and there is NOT a single mention of librarians or libraries in it. The report does discuss administrative bloat, but even in that, there is a pretty clear definition of the administrative bloat they mean:

"Other Professionals clearly fall within an
administrative category because they are
defi ned by IPEDS as “persons employed
for the primary purpose of performing
academic support, student service, and
institutional support…. Included in this
category are all employees holding titles
such as business operations specialists;
buyers and purchasing agents; human
resources, training, and labor relations specialists; management analysts; meeting
and convention planners; miscellaneous
business operations specialists; financial
specialists; accountants and auditors;
budget analysts; financial analysts and
advisors; financial examiners; loan
counselors and officers; [etc.].” Under any
reasonable definition, these employees are
engaged in administrative functions but
clearly not directly engaged in teaching,
research or service."

That definition is repeated at least twice. Please, if we are going to be posting stuff that sounds somewhat sensational (ooh, librarians as bloat), at least have the decency to check the actual source (all I did was a simple Google search; the GI report is freely available online). After all, we are librarians: it's what we (are supposed to) do.

A. Rivera

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