Where Next? Library Transformation Carla J. Stoffle Dean, University of Arizona Libraries and the Center for Creative Photography & Kim Leeder Special Assistant to the Dean The University of Arizona Libraries April 2006 Revision 7
Economics, not technology, is (or will be) driving the need for fundamental changes in our universities and in our libraries.
Colleges and universities are not going to receive the resources to keep pace with cost increases.
See: “State Tax Fund Appropriations for Higher Education FY1961 to FY2005. Postsecondary Education Opportunity 151 (2005): 1-20.
Libraries must stop muddling through and undergo transformation to thrive.
See: Alan E. Guskin and Mary B. Marcy, “Dealing with the Future Now,” Change 35.4 (July/August 2004): 10-21.
See: Joseph M. Brewer, Sheril J. Hook, Janice Simmons-Welburn, and Karen Williams, “Libraries Dealing with the Future Now,” ARL Report 234 (June 2004): 1-9.
Characteristics of the Transformed Library (1)
The library is a place for the production and management of knowledge.
We stimulate research, not just support it.
We are part of the creation process for new knowledge, access tools, and dissemination processes that do not require mediation or instruction.
We manage campus knowledge and information.
We provide campus information services, not just library information, on a 24/7 basis.
We create learning environments for our campuses and are partners in the educational process.
The library is an integral and interdependent part of the institution’s educational experience.
We work with instructors to create learning resources.
Characteristics of the Transformed Library (2)
Our collection format of choice is digital.
We are not subject to the restrictive pricing policies of the marketplace.
We have not only slowed down inflation but reduced the cost of collections and the cost of selecting, processing, and housing the collections through outsourcing and collaboration.
A smaller percentage of our budget is going to purchasing, processing, and managing scholarly information.
We create new knowledge sources.
We focus our collection building in special collections areas and creating new knowledge.
We are collecting new types of information, such as data sets, grey literature, and local resources.
We add to the collective knowledge by digitizing our primary resources.
Characteristics of the Transformed Library (3)
We are an active part of an ongoing national system for maintaining information in all formats, through coordinated repositories.
We have created collaborative repositories to provide open access to information.
We are collecting “born digital” materials.
We are politically proactive.
We are part of a national system that monitors and influences national information policy and protects campus interests and access to information through national and local action.
The library is agile, flexible, and welcomes change.
We do not wait for change to come, but are constantly evolving and changing ourselves to meet it.
How to Get There: Building a Transformed Library
Move from cooperation to collaboration in our activities.
Only do locally what must be done locally.
Focus on the needs of our campus, not what libraries traditionally do.
Provide all services, including information fluency instruction, to the desktop.
Change the portions of our budget going to collection-building and managing legacy collections.
Redesign our spaces as people space, not storage areas.
Develop new performance and assessment measures.
Internalize the concept of “planned abandonment,” which encourages the abandonment of programs and projects in decline to free up resources for innovative new projects.
Create new sources of revenue.
1. From Cooperation to Collaboration
Libraries have a long history of cooperation, but these efforts occur at the margin, not at the core of activities. A true collaboration requires:
Interdependence and pooling of resources,
Trusting others to follow through,
Giving up some parts of our work to others, and
Redirecting resources and staff time.
Collaboration can help libraries solve the big problems we all face, but it requires a fundamental change in our individual operations.
Center for Research Libraries repository for little-used materials
2. Only Do Locally What Must be Done Locally
Libraries should only do locally what must be done locally, or that which is most economically done locally.
We should only do alone that which we can’t find partners for.
Buy services through outsourcing, such as acquiring shelf-ready books.
Create collaborative partnerships, such as coordinated print repositories, to pool materials.
Create partnerships with commercial organizations, i.e., Scholar’s Portal, Google.
3. Focus on Campus Needs
Putting aside the concept of “what we do,” academic libraries must target the needs of their campus and aggressively seek out ways to work with other units.
Prioritize the needs of campus over concerns about what we do.
Partner with other campus organizations to volunteer our unique skills.
Become the ‘one-stop shopping’ point for all campus information.
Work with other units to help them create web pages and student information guides.
4. Provide All Services to the Desktop
Libraries need to provide services to the desktop to greatest extent possible to empower users with self-sufficiency.
Email and Chat Reference
Interlibrary loan requests & delivery
Online course reserves
Delivering other formats, including streamed audio and video
In our instructional efforts, this also means working with faculty to provide what they need.
Creating well-designed assignments that use information resources, new technologies, and active learning
Course management systems
Reusable digital instruction objects (carriers of innovation).
5. Rethink Collecting & Reallocate Resources
reduce the proportion of our budget going into purchasing information.
move to digital as the preferred collection format.
eliminate the massive amounts of resources (including space) devoted to managing legacy collections, and channel saved resources into digital projects and other innovations.
collaborate with other units to create open access repositories, rather than licensing outside databases.
We need to focus on collecting materials that are unique by emphasizing Special Collections.
We need to collect new types of information, such as data sets and grey literature.
See: Lewis, David W. “Reflections on the Future of Library Collections.” Arizona University Library Consortium. University of Arizona Libraries, Tucson, Arizona. 27-28 January 2005.
Trends in Collection Use Use of Purchased, Open Access, and Free Web materials, 2005-2030 Source: Lewis, David W. “Reflections on the Future of Library Collections.” Arizona University Library Consortium. University of Arizona Libraries, Tucson, Arizona. 27-28 January 2005.
6. Redesign Library Spaces
In the past we dedicated our spaces to housing physical collections that are becoming obsolete.
These spaces are now being replaced with computer workstations and group study areas.
Rather than mere replacement of books with computers, libraries need to look at redesigning spaces.
Library spaces should be recreated as “people space,” for computer work, learning, and collaboration.
Examples: Information Commons, group presentation rooms, multimedia stations.
7. Develop New Performance Measures
Performing new types of work means coming up with new ways to measure effectiveness.
If what we count determines what we do, we need to find different things to measure.
ARL New Measures Initiative
Seeks to respond to this need by establishing new data gathering and statistical analysis tools to measure library success.
Eliminate projects or programs before they go into decline with the purpose of freeing up those resources—staff, financial, and otherwise—to pursue new, more innovative projects that will move the organization forward.
“ Every three years, every organization—not just business—should sit down and look at every product and every service and every policy and say, ‘If we didn’t do this already, knowing what we now do, would we go and do it?’ And if the answer is no, don’t make another study” (Drucker & Senge, 34)
See: Drucker, Peter F., and Peter M. Senge. Leading in a Time of Change: What It Will Take to Lead Tomorrow: Viewer’s Workbook . New York: The Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management, 2001.
9. Create New Sources of Revenue
The economic environment requires that libraries seek other sources of funding.
Rethink external development and fundraising as a central part of all librarians’ jobs
Those on service desks should cultivate good relationships to indirectly encourage donations.
Grantwriting should be a central task for all librarians.
Selectors using gift money should notify donors what was purchased with their gift and why it is important.
New potential funding sources
Coffee shops, food services
This is an exciting time of opportunity for libraries but they will need to be willing to transform.
The current economic climate requires libraries to evolve in order to stay vibrant.
We cannot manage change. We just have to meet it and find ways to be more agile and creative with the resources we have.
Tagline for job descriptions: “Candidate must be able to work in an environment that is ambiguous...”
It is important that we learn to anticipate, welcome, and exploit change.