Brown University, Robinson Hall (Old Library)
ARL executive director Elliott Shore has embarked on a "listening tour" of ARL member libraries. This is the ninth in a series of informal reports from his visits.
The week before Thanksgiving in the US, I had the pleasure of touring New England as their crisp fall was beginning to turn into winter. I visited five ARL libraries in five days, reprising in a slightly larger territory my first visit to Boston’s five ARL libraries. The concentration of fine institutions of higher education located within an easy drive of Boston is quite stunning—10 ARL libraries and many of the country’s finest liberal arts colleges populate this cradle of US American higher education. I started in Providence, Rhode Island, at Brown University, made my way north and west to Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, then south to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, farther south to the University of Connecticut, in Storrs, and ended my trip at Yale University in New Haven. This trip was characterized by gorgeous campuses, finely and faithfully restored and expanded libraries, deep engagement with the intellectual life of venerable institutions, and the exuberance of the land-grant flagships of Massachusetts and Connecticut. Coming at a time when we are deeply engaged in the strategic thinking and design process, each of these libraries demonstrated ways forward in consonance with what we are finding throughout the community of ARL.
image © University of TorontoOn a brisk November day, the University of Toronto hosted a regional meeting for the ARL strategic thinking and design process in the Robarts Library Blackburn Room. Constructed in honor of Robert Blackburn, chief librarian from 1954 through 1981, the room opened in the fall of 2012 as a state-of-the-art meeting and presentation room. It provided a setting for a lively conversation among the nearly 30 participants about the potential futures for research libraries.
image © University of TorontoARL’s strategic thinking and design process continues apace. Julia Blixrud reports on the regional design meeting hosted by the University of Toronto in November. She notes:
Some of the themes subsequently drawn from the small group discussions included preparation for new competencies and skills, innovation, leverage and collaboration, partnering with others, community engagement, and library space as a means for socialization. By themselves, the words sound familiar—it will be the application and articulation that stretch the imagination for the future role of the research library.
ARL’s strategic thinking and design process kicked off with a regional design meeting led by consultant Ann Pendleton-Jullian and hosted by the University of Minnesota on October 1. There have been three subsequent regional design meetings to date: in Los Angeles on October 17, in Chicago on October 22, and in Toronto today. ARL staff are reporting on selected meetings as they happen.
image © University of IllinoisThirty-three people gathered in the University of Illinois at Chicago Student Center on October 22 to participate in a regional design meeting of the ARL strategic thinking and design process. “The future of the research library is intertwined with the future of higher education and the preservation of cultural memory broadly. It therefore made sense to the ARL Board of Directors to design the future of our association with broad community participation,” said ARL Executive Director Elliott Shore. “We are grateful to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for its generous support of these meetings.”
image © nathanmARL’s strategic thinking and design process kicked off with an invigorating regional design meeting, led by consultant Ann Pendleton-Jullian and hosted by the University of Minnesota on October 1. Meeting participants included almost 30 thought leaders from ARL member libraries, the broader library community, and higher education. The meeting was convened by three of the four co-chairs of the strategic design coordinating committee: Tom Hickerson (Calgary), Wendy Lougee (Minnesota), and Elliott Shore (ARL). Susan Nutter (North Carolina State), the fourth co-chair, was unable to attend but she did participate in the first design studio in Washington, DC, on October 29. Tom Hickerson opened the Minneapolis meeting, noting that this is an “exciting opportunity to engage in a creative process” that should impact the entire library profession.
University of Notre Dame, Architecture LibraryARL executive director Elliott Shore has embarked on a "listening tour" of ARL member libraries. This is the eighth in a series of informal reports from his visits.
After a summer’s pause, I went back on the road again to visit Diane Parr Walker at Notre Dame, Jim Mullins at Purdue, and Brenda Johnson at Indiana University on the continuation of my listening tour. I then headed north to visit ARL president Wendy Lougee at the University of Minnesota. The pause was a generative one: in the interim I could collect and synthesize my thoughts and my notes as we started the data collection and mining research project for the ARL strategic thinking and design process with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. At the same time, we began to put together the various pieces of the design studio that Ann Pendleton-Jullian is leading for us, also with grant support: her work and the regional meetings we are arranging are underwritten by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. A new ARL directors’ orientation in September—did you know that there have been 26 new directors appointed in the last 18 months?—afforded Ann and me the opportunity to have a productive session with 19 of the new directors as we geared up for the first design studio in Minneapolis (watch for that report soon).
System of action exemplified by El SistemaARL has been awarded two grants to support a strategic thinking and design process in 2013–2014. This strategic process will frame the critical work of the Association and define the role ARL plays in higher education and research to maximize its ability to be agile and responsive to rapidly changing priorities and member institution needs. To accomplish this goal, the ARL membership and members of the higher education and library communities will engage in a three-part iterative process of strategic thinking:
Elliott Shore, photo by Jon EricksonElliott Shore, ARL executive director, delivered a clarion call in the opening keynote address at the 10th Northumbria International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries and Information Services, held in late July in York, England. Shore’s presentation, titled “The Role of the Library in the Transformative Higher Education Environment: Or Fitting Our Measures to Our Goals,” challenged the library assessment community to radically change the measures it collects and uses. He proposed that libraries shift their assessment focus from description to prediction, from inputs to outputs, from quantity to quality.
image © Milko RomeroARL President Wendy Lougee, university librarian at University of Minnesota, will convene the 163rd ARL Membership Meeting in Arlington, Virginia, on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 9. Several programs that build on recent discussions about strategic thinking and the future framework for ARL are in development. The meeting will adjourn on Thursday afternoon, October 10, just before the start of the ARL Fall Forum on “Mobilizing the Research Enterprise.” Please see the Membership Meeting schedule for complete details, including information on the committee meetings to be held Wednesday morning before the Membership Meeting convenes.