Volume 22,  Volume 22, Issue 2

A Note from the Dean: Forging a Plan for the Future

liz kiscaden

As I begin my second full semester at the University of Cincinnati as dean and university librarian, I’m struck by how much we’ve done this year and I am energized for the future. A great deal of the work undertaken during fall semester was about taking stock of where we are. I embarked on a listening tour of all UC Libraries’ departments to better understand the priorities of our frontline staff and, perhaps just as important, to understand the culture of our organization. To get a clearer picture of how we are performing in comparison with our peers, I worked with consultants from the Association for College and Research Libraries to conduct a review of UC Libraries’ which focused on areas of strengths and opportunities for growth. From both of these fact-finding efforts, I’ve learned and come to a greater appreciation of the positive reputation we’ve earned on campus and beyond, the cohesive, committed and welcoming staff that devote their talent and energies to supporting the mission of the Libraries and the university, as well as the extent of how integrated we are across campus.

At the same time, opportunities for development have risen, including, the need to:

  • strengthen our assessment practices so that we can accurately measure our impact and identify areas for improvement;
  • breakdown organizational silos by examining of our structure, committees and internal practices;
  • highlight our special collections and archives; and,
  • build and advance our digital services and programs.

Now, we are taking what we’ve learned and preparing to move forward. Strategic planning is underway to develop a three-year plan to go into effect on July 1, 2024. The goal for the strategic planning process is one which is both participatory and data-informed. We have all-staff planning retreats scheduled for mid-March where we will dive into the work of co-creating our plan for the future.

In preparation for implementing a new plan, I am establishing a senior leadership team after a period of numerous vacancies. I am pleased to announce that Lori Harris has been promoted to associate dean for research and instruction. Two additional associate dean vacancies will be posted in the near future to lead library efforts in collections, operations and user services. My intent is to fill these vacancies before the start of fall semester 2024 as they will play a key role in implementing our strategic plan.

There is a lot in motion, but I have confidence that UC Libraries is up to the task and will come out of this process renewed and with the stability required to advance our mission and vision. I look forward to sharing the outcome of this work in the near future.

In the meantime, enjoy this issue of Source. Read the Annual Report to give you a sense of what we accomplished in 2022/2023. Collections play a prominent theme in this issue, including in a new DAAP Library exhibit, Rediscovering Catherina van Hemmessen’s Flagellation of Christ: Women as Artists, Patrons and Rulers in Renaissance Europe, that features prints, books and manuscripts from the collections of UC Libraries and in the acquisitions of Blue Books in the Archives and Rare Books Library. Collaboration is another theme of this issue when we write about Poetry Stacked Beyond the Bookshelves and the efforts of several librarians and staff to present for school children participating in the College Mentors for Kids program. And don’t miss the article about the lost mural in the CEAS Library.