Volume 22,  Volume 22, Issue 1

Note from the Dean: Creating a shared vision for UC Libraries

liz kiscaden

My tenure as dean and university librarian for the University of Cincinnati Libraries began in mid-August and I feel privileged to have joined such a highly talented team during a time of great growth at the University of Cincinnati. While higher education and academic libraries are certainly not new environments for me, like we say in this profession, “if you’ve seen one library, you’ve seen one library.” I am grateful to have such a welcoming community within UC Libraries to get me up to speed and support my transition, this experience has made me proud to be a Bearcat!

For more about my professional background and my thoughts on trends and challenges facing academic libraries, please read the interview I did for this issue of Source. For now, however, let’s focus on what’s on the immediate horizon for UC Libraries.

As a part of my on-boarding at UC, I met with my fellow deans and library leadership to gain a better understanding of opportunities and challenges facing UC Libraries. Academic libraries are unique in the breadth of their reach across campus. Because we interact with every college and school, the campus community is invested in our success and my colleagues seek even deeper partnerships as we all work to achieve the NEXT Lives Here Strategic Directions. From these conversations emerged a draft shared vision of the future of UC Libraries: to be the intellectual center of campus life, a partner within the expanding research and innovation agenda and a catalyst for engaging the greater community. It is from this emerging vision that we now must decide our next directions. We must examine our strengths as we identify challenges. We will discern areas where our expertise, services and collaborations can best be put to use as we pursue our vision.

As the first step in setting our next directions, this fall, the University of Cincinnati Libraries is recruiting support from the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) to review our strengths and opportunities, and to prepare our organization for charting our future directions. This process is led by three experienced leaders in academic librarianship who are collaborating with a task force from UC Libraries to will collect and analyze our existing data, conduct bench marking comparisons with peer and aspirant institutions and solicit additional data via interviews with individuals and groups within the campus community. For comparison and analysis, the team will use the Standards for Libraries in Higher Education as an instrument within the project, which consists of principles and performance indicators applicable to academic libraries.

This process of input and analysis will prepare UC Libraries to create a more focused vision for our future, formalized through an updated strategic plan with goals and initiatives that will continue to align with the strategic direction of the University of Cincinnati’s, Next Lives Here. This plan will build upon the success of UC Libraries and respond to the rapidly changing landscape of higher education, as well as the increasingly diverse needs of our students, faculty and researchers. Being a part of this transition and a part of creating the next chapter for UC Libraries has been both inspiring and energizing, and I hope to share some of that with you here in The Source throughout the coming year. Stay tuned…