I have held a series of administrative positions at Oklahoma State University (OSU) since 1978 and have been dean of libraries since 2004. During that time we have experienced a number of changes and in 2012 the OSU Library looked to be thriving. We had adopted technology to enhance collections and improve services. We had been a development partner with Summon and were in a similar role with Intota. We consistently received positive survey results and comments for our services and collections. Our building was heavily used by students. For most of my staff and many of my librarians, the library looked healthy and robust. We were clearly not stagnant, but I had a strong sense that many librarians had not yet acknowledged how precarious our future was in research libraries. Staff members who did not have opportunities to attend professional meetings or the time to read the professional literature were unaware of the danger we were in. They did not fully comprehend how the transformations in technology, scholarly communication, and higher education would change their work, nor did they recognize how the competitive challenges from Google and others could make our traditional services irrelevant.
image © Tom SharlotARL’s Transforming Research Libraries (TRL) Steering Committee has published the third entry in its monthly column, Workforce Transformation Stories. Sheila Grant Johnson, dean of libraries at Oklahoma State University (OSU), contributed the August essay, “Possible Library Futures.”
Elliott ShoreDuring the first three weeks of July, ARL executive director Elliott Shore travelled to Europe, Canada, and across the US to participate in five gatherings that focused on libraries, higher education, leadership, and innovation: the LIBER Conference, the Jisc-CNI Conference, the Breakthrough Models Academy, the ARL Leadership Fellows Institute, and the Aspen Institute’s Roundtable on Institutional Innovation. These events provided Shore with an opportunity to expand on the various initiatives informed by and resulting from ARL’s strategic thinking and design process.
Elizabeth WaraksaIn a post today on the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Re.Thinking blog, Elizabeth Waraksa, ARL strategic thinking and design research fellow and former CLIR postdoctoral fellow, reflects on how working with collaborative, interdisciplinary teams has changed her outlook on academic career options. She discusses her experiences working on three discrete projects: the open access UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, CLIR’s Observations on Scholarly Engagement with Hidden Special Collections and Archives study, and ARL’s strategic thinking and design research work stream.
image © Tom SharlotARL’s Transforming Research Libraries (TRL) Steering Committee has published the second entry in its new monthly column, Workforce Transformation Stories. Tom Wall, university librarian at Boston College, wrote the July essay, “Adding Value beyond Discovery.”
For centuries, library work has been about building collections, and then managing them. More recently, the emphasis shifted to discovery and access, which in turn led to an emphasis on instruction and information literacy initiatives. In some sense, one could create a cogent argument that the combination of services and collections will sustain our work for the foreseeable future. However, it also seems that this same argument will not facilitate innovation or necessarily help us provide the much-needed shift to “value beyond discovery.”
A July 7, 2014, post by the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Ubiquitous Librarian blogger, Brian Mathews, calls out ARL’s strategic thinking and design work for its “optimistic and opportunistic, bold vision for the future.” In the post, “Shifting from a Knowledge Service Provider to a Collaborative Partner,” Mathews refers to the slide deck (PDF) from a presentation delivered at the May 2014 ARL Membership Meeting as “one of the most thought-provoking items I’ve seen from library-land in quite a while.” He goes on to list particular points in the presentation that intrigue him.
image © Tom SharlotARL’s Transforming Research Libraries (TRL) Steering Committee is pleased to announce a new monthly column on the ARL website devoted to stories of research library workforce transformation.
The column, Workforce Transformation Stories, is the outgrowth of many conversations and ARL activities, including the New Roles for New Times reports, Scenario Planning, the 2012 Human Resources Symposium, and Strategic Thinking and Design.
When University of Maryland professor of sociology Philip Cohen was asked recently to consult with a graduate student on a journal article revision, the student had two challenges to satisfy his reviewers. The first challenge had to do with the complex use of GIS and geocoding; the reviewers wanted to see a particular deployment of GIS in the student’s US Census tract maps. The second challenge involved the use of census data itself. Professor Cohen easily offered advice on the latter and tried to think where the student could find help with GIS. No need, the graduate student assured him. The student had visited the campus library and gotten exactly the consultation he needed to incorporate GIS in his article revision.
Sarah Thomas and Judith Nadler, image © American Library AssociationOn May 22, 2014, Sarah Thomas, vice president for the Harvard Library and Roy E. Larsen librarian for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard, presented the inaugural Judith Nadler Vision Lecture at the University of Chicago’s Joseph Regenstein Library. Thomas’s lecture, “Future-Proofing the Research Library,” explored the ways in which research libraries are adapting to change. As part of her presentation, she provided an overview of ARL's strategic thinking and design work.