“Damn the Recession: Full Speed Ahead”
Rush G. Miller, Hillman University Librarian, University of Pittsburg
In the not too distant past, the library was the only information source available—not true today. Libraries, which have always been the heart of the university, must transition and reinvent themselves—it is not enough to claim value. For the past two decades libraries have been strongly impacted by increasing costs for emerging technologies. The libraries future is not secure. “No one is going to save you”, and the library cannot continue to be all things to all people. Libraries need bold leaders and change agents. Many librarians have been far too conservative, and we now need those who can think out-of-the-box and make bold changes. “The train of change is leaving the station,” and some in the library field are being left behind. Even with the recession, libraries cannot afford to sit back but need to seize opportunities, make changes, and direct the redesign itself before it is done for them.
“The Value of Partnership: Building New Partnerships for Success”
Joan Giesecke, Dean of Libraries, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Forming partnerships is not easy, but it is necessary for leveraging the costs of resources and sharing expertise. Across the board, academic universities are struggling to maintain quality with fewer resources. The presenter suggests one way to combat the economic barriers is to create new and improved partnerships to leverage resources and share expertise. This will also provide better services and access wider collections for users. Dean Giesecke used the Gallup Corporation to help create successful partnerships. Some of the factors for success depend upon a common mission along with common goals and purpose, fairness, and an equitable distribution of the workload. Plus trust people to return good for good and forgive mistakes. Two University of Nebraska-Lincoln partnerships were discussed by the presenter—one failure and one success. For the failure Dean Giesecke said one has to learn how to end the partnership with an amicable divorce for both parties.
“Creating Sustainable Futures for Academic Libraries”
Lizabeth (Beth) Wilson, Dean of University Libraries, University of Washington
The presenter used the term “Great Depression to Great Recession” to describe how scarcity can lead to great things and move from surviving to sustainability. All planned sustainability is targeted to coordinate with the university strategic plan 2y2d-2 Years to 2 Decades. The University of Washington Libraries is a large, public research library with over 7,000,000 volumes, and 50,000 serial titles. The library was asked to use the university 2y2d plan to form their strategy. Some of the questions asked were “Who are we, What’s next (What will we be?-What direction maintains/sustains excellence, vision and values), How will we get there? What are we doing now?”- the last question concerns the next steps: 2y (Sustainable academic business plan) and 2d (Focus on Society’s major problems).
Two years (2y)
- Near-term action
- Answers “How?”
- Creates a new business model
Two decades (2d)
- Long-term view
- Answers “What?”
- Positions the UW to thrive in the 21st Century
I could go on and on with this presentation, as it was tremendously informative and quite interesting. I have the slides if anyone is interested; however, one big major change made was in the building itself after assessment, surveys, metrics, etc. Areas were consolidated, lots of space provided for the various interests, movable furniture (Googie [sp?] and Jetsons) and white boards as well as white board table tops (very popular), banners, music, dining experiences, and wild colors –Feverish Pink, Marvelous Mustard, and Paradise Green. Dean Wilson also talked about how the money was acquired and went into great detail about various powerful partnerships. This wonderful space brought many classes and workshops directly to the library.
“Are MLS Graduates Being Prepared for the Changing and Emerging Roles that Librarians Must Now Assume within Research University Libraries?”
James Mullins, Dean of Libraries, Purdue University
Findings from a survey sent to directors, deans, and university librarians at 10 ARL institutions, did not show a confidence in current MLS programs providing the right fit for Research University Libraries. In fact many institutions are hiring outside the MLS degree, as they feel it is limiting—“need to hire the right person whether or not the individual has an MLS degree.”
“Advancing the Institutional Mission”
Brinley Franklin, Vice Provost, University Libraries, University of Connecticut
Because of budget issues, early retirement incentives were proposed—9 people accepted. Vice Provost Franklin points out the fact that librarians need to show value beyond collections and services, and create new roles that serve the universities needs for research libraries. He suggests reading No Brief Candle: Reconceiving Research Libraries for the 21st Century, especially the essay by Andrew Dillon. Vice Provost Franklin asks “why not align libraries to the university academic plan”? In other words, change the focus from the Library and its functions to the users and their needs. Generating a campus buy-in helps constituents understand the library and its services.
“Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it onto future generations.”---George Bernard Shaw
“Short term Changes for Long-term Benefits”
David Spadafora, President and Librarian, The Newberry Library
In 2008 The Newberry Library completed a long-term strategic plan with big plans to increase staff compensation, but by November of that year The Newberry was in a crisis with endowments shrinking by 28%. Plans, instead, had to be made to create a leaner institution. One of the biggest weaknesses was the facility itself. By relentlessly focusing on the Newberry institutional strengths, using interdisciplinary teams, grants, and changing donations to unrestricted giving, The Newberry was able to make some of their facility changes.
“Global Resources: How a Cooperative Collection Development Enterprise Keeps Pace with a Rapidly Changing World”
Bernard F. Reilly, President, Center for Research Libraries
Bernie described how a cooperative collection development has evolved and adapted to radical changes in both technology and the information marketplace to keep pace with a rapidly changing world. One of my favorite points from Bernie’s talk was “Libraries have to be more than a big box; they need to be more dynamic and assertive; they need to be stewards of knowledge and have a responsibility and obligation for future generation researchers.”
“Budgets, Services and Technology Driving Change---How Librarians, Publishers and Vendors are Moving Forward”
Tim Collins, President EBSCO Publishing
Mr. Collins first discussed the trends impacting libraries as a result of current low budgets—library staff not replaced, downgraded, reassigned, and positions frozen/eliminated; technical services show some of the biggest cuts in staffing as well as acquisitions and student workers. The impact on publishers and vendors has been a 45% decline on overall business which has changed the way they are doing business. The number one change is to provide more online, and bury the print. Publisher staffing has taken the same toll as libraries—staff reorganized, not replaced, re-graded /realigned, and positions frozen. Publishers are focusing on increasing cost per packages/collection as well as partnering in discovery services and eBook space, but not likely in full-text partnerships. The presenter predicts the eBook will greatly expand.
“Let’s Get Cozy: Evolving Collaborations in the 21st Century”
Paula Kaufman, Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Dean of Libraries, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Why collaborate? More can be accomplished together with greater benefits to users as well as economic benefits. Dean Kaufman described the Kanter Framework for developing collaborations.
- Courtship: attraction, shared vision
- Engagement: creation plan and formalize commitment
- Living together: surfacing disagreements
- Learning to get along: making accommodations
- Old marrieds: internal change
The Pre-Selection criteria
- Self-analysis – know thyself
At the beginning of the collaboration, set out the rules of the game to make roles and responsibilities clear as well as talk about what might trigger dissolution. State expectations upfront and be clear about what must be measured and why. Pool resources.
“In Transition: The Special Nature of Leadership Change”
Barbara Dewey, Dean, University Libraries & Scholarly communications, Pennsylvania State University
What is transition?—“a passing or passage from one condition, action, or (rarely) place, to another; change.” Some types of transition might be leadership, political, social, cultural, economic, and technological.
Elements for effective transition (Christy 2009)
- Identifying features worth preserving
- Communication throughout the organization
- Building strong management teams
- Completing major projects
- Recruiting and selecting successors
- Orienting and training new managers
- Building social networks
Demonstrating Leader’s Value Proposition
- Is the management team effective?
- Where is the organization doing well and where are the strategic gaps?
- Is the communication plan effective or does it need work?
- Does the staff understand the director’s vision and are they clear on priorities moving forward
- Are there organization issues to address?
- What changes are needed, in what order, by whom, and how?
As a summary Dean Dewey reminds us that we need to acknowledge that we are in permanent transition and can grow and thrive.