A couple of months into the strategic thinking and design process, ARL interviewed three participants in the process to capture their thoughts on the significance of the process itself and on the potential outcomes.
Alice Pitt, vice-provost academic at York University, relates how she sees the librarians in this process engaged in the holistic structure of higher education, in the big picture at our universities:
Pitt also describes how the iterative process of developing the strategic framework and how the way we're going about it—including people with a broad range of experiences from all over North America and synthesizing the results from the different groups—should give people confidence in the outputs. She notes that the common language that we develop using the iterative process gains gravitas through repetition as it spreads through a wider and wider circle of people:
As it developed, the process helped to overcome the understandable skepticism that such a new departure would call to mind. Here, Brian E. C. Schottlaender, the Audrey Geisel university librarian at the University of California, San Diego, and member of the ARL Board, relates his own warming to the process as he experienced the work at the USC meeting:
Schottlaender also notes the striking fact that the different groups of meeting participants, which consisted of a wide range of types of people, came up with very similar vision statements:
Dave Gift, vice president for strategic initiatives at Merit Network and vice provost emeritus for libraries and IT services at Michigan State University, discusses the value of coming together in the act of planning:
Gift also talks about several elements of successful collaboration, which is emerging as a key point in the participants’ visions of the future research library:
There are many potential outcomes of this strategic thinking and design process. The process will likely impact the library community as well as the Association, and possibly higher education in general.
Here Brian Schottlaender speculates about how the framework that emerges from this process might change the way ARL defines membership, broadening that definition significantly:
Schottlaender also notes that the kinds of discussions that ARL fosters and the people ARL invites into those discussions will probably change as a result of this process, again widening the circle beyond its current limits:
Dave Gift sees ARL as a vehicle for the research library community to discuss, plan, and take collective action. He hopes that one outcome of this process will be plans for collective action to advance the global needs of scholarship and preservation of culture across the ecosystem of all types of libraries:
Brian Schottlaender hopes that this process will also result in the voice of research libraries being taken more seriously in discussions of the future of higher education: