This past spring an outstanding team of library leaders visited the Drew campus for two and a half days with the mandate to evaluate the University Library and its recently completed strategic plan. The team included Peggy Seiden (College Librarian, Swarthmore College), Ray English (Asariah Smith Root Director of Libraries, Oberlin College), and Vicki Sells (Associate Provost for Information Technology Services and University Librarian, The University of the South). This outside review was a critical step of assessment and planning for the Library.
The visiting team affirmed the Library for:
- Moving expeditiously to adopt digital formats, particularly for journal literature
- Becoming a partner in the VALE consortium to develop a new generation of an integrated library system
- Placing high value on information literacy
- Achieving high student use
- Succeeding in fund raising
- Engaging in a robust strategic planning process
They found that “Drew has a committed, highly service-oriented staff, strong special collections, and a facility with great potential to serve as a center for intellectual life on campus. Nevertheless…there is a critical need to address particular areas with regard to budget for collections and digital initiatives, allocation and organization of staff, technology infrastructure and programming, and information literacy.” Among them:
- Drew must reinvest in its collections, especially monographic resources—print and digital—to ensure that both undergraduates in the humanities and social sciences and graduate and seminary students have necessary materials for their scholarly work.
- As the University considers new degree programs, it is critical that library resources required by matriculates are considered along with other costs. The university should look at the best way to formalize this process.
- Rebuilding the materials budget will require both a reinstatement of some of the funds that were previously cut by the University and reallocation of Library resources, most likely from personnel costs.
- Joint planning with the three organizations that provide IT services is essential to the Library’s success in digital initiatives, yet the Library needs to build its own capacity in this area. The Library should be positioned to provide leadership for digital initiatives that enhance access to local and acquired resources.
- The Library should be ready to partner with instructional technology staff to provide support for digital humanities work, multimedia creation, geographic information systems—those areas where library resources and digital tools converge.
- Developing a robust information literacy program that meets the needs of all of Drew’s undergraduates and graduate students will require deeper collaboration with faculty in planning and implementing a program that not only addresses the first year experience, but is truly developmental in nature.
- One concept that is particularly compelling is the scholarly or academic commons. The academic commons can serve as a vital interdisciplinary center where faculty, librarians, and instructional technologists can collaborate to bring scholarly and cultural programs of mutual interest; and it can serve as a space where faculty and students can explore new modes of scholarship. Ultimately the Library can provide means to preserve and disseminate the intellectual products of its community.
The Library should not only be about individual engagement with the “text” in whatever form that may take, but it should also facilitate the creation of new knowledge.
The report concluded with the advice that consideration of the recommendations should be done in the context of the University’s strategic plan.
The 24-page document has given the Library invaluable advice and perspective. The Library’s strategic plan has integrated most of the recommendations and the Library is actively exploring partnerships and seeking resources that will help bring them to reality.
– Dean Andrew Scrimgeour
This article appeared in Visions, the Library Newsletter, Fall 2011.