Dean’s Corner: UC Libraries’ Dean’s Advisory Council Explore Strategic Issues of Space

Dean of University Libraries, Xuemao Wang

Dean of University Libraries, Xuemao Wang

Over two years ago, recruitment began for my Dean’s Advisory Council, an advisory group comprised of individuals from different industries and backgrounds with a tremendous passion for higher education and lifelong learning, global experience, digital technologies and a commitment to UC and the mission of UC Libraries. This group met recently to discuss and explore the issues and goals of library space.

It is a common practice for deans to create such a council. Members advise on strategic issues, contribute their own experience, and serve as ambassadors for the organization. My advisory council’s inaugural meeting was held last fall at the Donald C. Harrison Health Sciences Library on UC’s Medical Campus and the Walter C. Langsam Library on Main Campus. Esteemed speakers such as UC Provost Beverly Davenport, UC Foundation President Rod Grabowski and UC Foundation Vice President for Development Dee Robinson joined us for a kick-off breakfast. The two-day meeting also incorporated tours of Health Sciences, the Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions and Langsam Library in its busy agenda.

This spring’s meeting was held earlier this month and included comprehensive tours of the three libraries housed at Blegen Library: the John Miller Burnam Classical Library, the Albino Gorno Memorial Music (CCM) Library and the Archive and Rare Books (ARB) Library. The council also was treated to a presentation from Head and University Archivist of the ARB Library, Kevin Grace, and a social lunch with representatives from UC Libraries’ faculty and staff, the Graduate Student Governance Association and the Student Body Government. These meetings, tours and presentations provided the council the opportunity to interact with library faculty and staff, along with some of UC’s student leadership.


Kevin Grace, Head and University Archivist of the Archive and Rare Books Library, showcases some of the library’s rare materials


Paul Cauthen, Assistant Music Librarian, gives a tour of the College-Conservatory of Music Library


Michael Braunlin, Assistant Head of the Classics Library, presents an artifact to the Dean’s Advisory Council

The meeting’s theme was “Space,” which you may recognize as one of the four pillars of UC Libraries’ Strategic Plan. A short walk around campus will show you that space has been a priority for the libraries for some time. Right now, construction has begun on the highly anticipated Langsam Starbucks, and more projects are in the works. But after the advisory council’s first meeting, a sub group within the council proposed a list of questions concerning the libraries’ focus on space, most importantly: Why does space rise to such a strategic level for the libraries?

We spent a good portion of our meeting time exploring this question and discussing the future of UC Libraries’ space initiatives. We were fortunate enough to secure an experienced facilitator in UC Foundation Vice President for Advancement and Campaign Director Donna Gastevich to help guide our discussions. By the end of our second day, we had established a clear direction for the council’s growth. As follow up with this meeting, I will work with the council members to articulate our short and long-term vision of space. The goal is to align our space vision closely with user and community needs, to link its impact to student and faculty success, and to maximize our fundraising opportunities.