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Workforce Transformation: Communities of Practice as Tools for Organizational Change and Self-directed Professional Development

Last year, ARL’s New Role for New Times report, Transforming Liaison Roles in Research Libraries (PDF), by Janice M. Jaguszewski and Karen Williams, identified six trends in the organization and practices of leading research libraries and the changing work of liaison librarians. One of those trends is the effort by research libraries to “create and sustain a flexible workforce.” Building a flexible workforce includes a variety of methods to “transform” a library’s workforce, including hiring new staff with new expertise, as well as committing to develop a more agile “legacy workforce.” (p. 14)

 
 

New Workforce Transformation Story: Communities of Practice as Tools for Change

image © Tom SharlotARL’s Transforming Research Libraries (TRL) Steering Committee has published the fourth entry in its monthly column, Workforce Transformation Stories. Kelly Broughton, assistant dean for research and education services at Ohio University Libraries, contributed the September essay, “Communities of Practice as Tools for Organizational Change and Self-directed Professional Development.”

 
 

Workforce Transformation: Possible Library Futures

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.

 
 

New Workforce Transformation Story: Possible Library Futures

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 Shore Discusses ARL Strategic Thinking and Design in Europe, Canada, US

elliott-shoreElliott 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.

 
 

Alternative Academic Careers: Potential Benefits to PhDs and the Academy

elizabeth-waraksaElizabeth 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.

 
 

New Workforce Transformation Story: Adding Value beyond Discovery

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.”

 
 

Workforce Transformation: 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.”

 
 

ARL Strategic Thinking and Design Highlighted by Chronicle of Higher Education

strategic-design-domains-for-the-research-libraryA 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.

 
 

Workforce Transformation Stories: ARL Launches Monthly Column

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.

 
 

Workforce Transformation: It’s about the Work

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.
 
 

Future-Proofing the Research Library: Sarah Thomas Delivers Judith Nadler Vision Lecture

sarah-thomas-and-judith-nadlerSarah 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.

 
 

ARL Membership Refines Strategic Thinking and Design at Spring 2014 Meeting

ohio-state-u-thompson-libraryimage © OSU, photo by Meera on Buckeyes BlogARL president Carol Pitts Diedrichs of The Ohio State University (OSU) convened the 164th ARL Membership Meeting in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday afternoon, May 6, 2014. Almost all of the program sessions at this meeting focused on the current ARL strategic thinking and design process, upon which the Association embarked in the fall of 2013 to define its role in higher education and to maximize ARL’s ability to be agile and responsive to changing priorities and member needs. The meeting also included a panel discussion of SHARE (SHared Access Research Ecosystem), a higher education and research community initiative to ensure the preservation of, access to, and reuse of research outputs.

 
     

Membership Meeting 2014 (Spring): ARL Strategic Thinking and Design

Presented at the 164th ARL Membership Meeting, May 2014, in Columbus, Ohio, by Ann Pendleton-Jullian, Wendy Pradt Lougee, Susan Gibbons, John Wilkin, and James Hilton

pdfmm14sp-strategic-thinking-and-design.pdf 

 
 

ARL Membership Refines Strategic Thinking and Design at Spring 2014 Meeting

ohio-state-u-thompson-libraryimage © OSU, photo by Meera on Buckeyes BlogARL president Carol Pitts Diedrichs of The Ohio State University (OSU) convened the 164th ARL Membership Meeting in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday afternoon, May 6, 2014. Almost all of the program sessions at this meeting focused on the current ARL strategic thinking and design process, upon which the Association embarked in the fall of 2013 to define its role in higher education and to maximize ARL’s ability to be agile and responsive to changing priorities and member needs. The meeting also included a panel discussion of SHARE (SHared Access Research Ecosystem), a higher education and research community initiative to ensure the preservation of, access to, and reuse of research outputs.

 
 

ARL Strategic Thinking and Design video montage

This montage provides an overview of the strategic thinking and design process undertaken by ARL in 2013–2014. The video includes clips from an interview with ARL executive director Elliott Shore and consultant Ann Pendleton-Jullian as well as selected footage from various design studio sessions and regional design meetings conducted across the US and Canada.

Design meeting participants featured in this video include Dan Atkins of University of Michigan, Adam Bouchard of McGill University, Meredith Evans of University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Catherine Davidson of York University, Justin Schell of University of Minnesota, Evan McGonagill of Bryn Mawr College, Jim Neal of Columbia University, and Carol Diedrichs of Ohio State University.

Video production by Dupont Studios

 
 

April 2014 Interviews with Susan Gibbons, Tom Hickerson, Wendy Lougee

Shortly before the May 2014 ARL Membership Meeting in Columbus, Ohio, ARL interviewed three members of the Strategic Thinking and Design Working Group, reflecting on the strategic process and how it will help ARL and research libraries build their desired future.

 
 

November 2013 Interviews with Alice Pitt, Brian Schottlaender, David Gift

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.

 
 

ARL Strategic Design Meeting Convenes at Harvard

boston-strategic-design-meeting-apr2014photo by Lee Anne GeorgeOn the day after the 2014 Boston Marathon, 33 participants gathered at Harvard University for the 10th regional design meeting in ARL’s strategic thinking and design process. Lee Anne George reports on the meeting and notes that it represented the turning point from one phase of the design process to a second phase: creating systems of action to close the gap between the present and the library of 2033 envisioned through this process.

 
 

Boston Design Meeting, ARL Strategic Design, April 22

boston-strategic-design-meeting-apr2014photo by Lee Anne GeorgeOn the day after the 2014 Boston Marathon, 33 participants gathered at Lamont Library on the Harvard University campus for the 10th regional meeting in ARL’s strategic thinking and design process. Sarah Thomas, vice president for the Harvard Library and the Roy E. Larsen librarian of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, hosted the meeting that included librarians, faculty, and a graduate student from colleges and universities across New England, the Boston Public Library, and ARL.

 
 

ARL Strategic Design Meeting Convenes at GWU

gwu-gelman-lib-entrance-floorimage © GWUARL’s strategic thinking and design process continues to make headway. Martha Kyrillidou reports on the regional design meeting hosted by the George Washington University (GWU) in Washington, DC, in December 2013. She notes the Washingtonian nature of this group of participants, including staff from “federal library and archival agencies—such as the Smithsonian Libraries, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and National Institutes of Health (NIH)—as well as the DC Public Library, Montgomery College Libraries, and the libraries of such universities as GWU, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland, and University of Virginia.” She observes:

 
 

Washington, DC, Design Meeting, ARL Strategic Design, December 4

gwu-gelman-lib-entrance-floorimage © GWUCrossing the recently transformed, second-floor foyer of the George Washington University (GWU) Gelman Library—now a state-of-the-art, student-oriented space—prepared us for an engaging ARL strategic thinking and design experience on December 4. Geneva Henry, vice provost for libraries and university librarian at GWU, welcomed us to the library and set the tone for an invigorating day. More than 40 participants enthusiastically took part in the discussions, being invited to imagine and articulate elements of the research library in 2033 by ARL’s strategic design consultant, Ann Pendleton-Jullian. The group was diverse and uniquely Washingtonian in character. Participants represented federal library and archival agencies—such as the Smithsonian Libraries, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and National Institutes of Health (NIH)—as well as the DC Public Library, Montgomery College Libraries, and the libraries of such universities as GWU, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland, and University of Virginia. A few ARL staff members also participated in the discussions.  

 
 

SPEC Kit 339: Innovation and R&D (December 2013)

This SPEC Kit investigates the current state of both innovation and R&D in research library organizations. It examines what outward-facing commitments libraries have made to innovation and R&D, and what foundations are in place to support these activities. It asked who is involved in innovative activities, how libraries organize themselves to create, support, and sustain innovation, and how they measure the resulting outcomes. It also collected data on which research libraries support R&D, at what level, for what purposes, and how these activities are organized, funded, and assessed. The SPEC Kit includes examples of strategic plans and other documents that describe library support for innovation and research and development activities, organization charts, descriptions of research awards, and job descriptions of staff responsible for innovation and R&D.

This publication is available for purchase in both print and online versions. Download the spec-kit-purchase-options-2013.pdf  for complete pricing and purchase options information.

Link to the online SPEC Kit 339 on the ARL Digital Publications website.

 
 

Notes from Elliott Shore’s Listening Tour: Brown, Dartmouth, UMass, UConn, Yale

Brown University, Robinson HallBrown 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.

 
 

Toronto Design Meeting, ARL Strategic Design, November 8

U Toronto Robarts Library 4th floorimage © 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.

 
 

ARL Strategic Design Meeting Convenes in Toronto

U Toronto Robarts Library 4th floorimage © 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 Strategic Design Process Launches

Thomas W Lawson clipper shipARL’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.

 
 

Chicago Design Meeting, ARL Strategic Design, October 22

U I C Idea Commonsimage © 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.”

 
 
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A blog for and by librarians interested in library assessment, evaluation, and improvement supported by the Association of Research Libraries
 
 

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