The Strategic Planning Team: Kelly Connor, Karin Dalziel, Lorna Dawes, Zach Eden, Regina Flowers, Ana Gomez, Lori Harvey, Andrew Jewell (chair), Charlene Maxey-Harris, Tom McFarland, Catherine Fraser Riehle, and Claire Stewart
The goal of this plan is to push the University Libraries forward toward a more fully realized achievement of its mission, to enact our commitment to ethical and equitable practices and policies, and to ambitiously grow as a 21st century academic library. This plan is not inclusive of everything that we do; there are many valuable activities and services that are not mentioned, and that is not meant to minimize the importance of those activities. Instead, this plan puts focus on the areas we feel should be the highest priority for increased attention and investment in the near term, areas where we want to see specific development.
The seeds of this plan were sown in 2017-2018, when the University Libraries did a series of activities reflecting on its identity and aspirations. After a pause in the process due to the retirement of Dean Nancy Busch, we re-started the Strategic Planning Committee in the winter of 2020 under the leadership of Dean Claire Stewart. We created the bulk of the plan during the spring and summer of 2020, when the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and most of the world, was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This sudden shift in our lives was humbling for the committee, as we witnessed the way plans could be instantly shoved off course by unpredictable events. But the experience also strengthened our sense of the importance of reflection, priorities, and commitments. With such guiding principles, disruptions can be managed and one can believe in the possibility of creating a preferred future.
We've intentionally created a plan that starts us along several paths, but it also asks us to evaluate, adjust, and re-commit to those paths. Our tactics can take us through the next two academic years, but we know the true accomplishment of the objectives will take even longer. We know we must learn along the way.
At the core of our campus and library is inclusive excellence. As defined by UNL, this commitment means that "[w]e believe in fully embracing diversity in all forms seen and unseen, making inclusion a top priority, promoting equity across our policies and practices, and ultimately ensuring that excellence is inclusive." Our ambition is to make this commitment present in each of our objectives and in everything we do at the University Libraries.
Thank you to the dozens of people who providing ideas, input, questions, and energy into this planning process. We hope you'll stay engaged as the plan, and the University Libraries, continues to develop.
University Libraries advances the mission of the University by teaching students to become critical information-users and knowledge creators; through the creation, delivery, curation, and preservation of information resources; through collaborative partnerships in research and creative activities; by advocating for equitable access to information; and by creating diverse and inclusive learning environments.
The University Libraries are people who:
- We support learners at all levels as they gain competence in information discovery, use, and creation.
- We affirm continuous learning, participative planning and management, and robust collaboration by Libraries' faculty and staff.
- We promote ethical and equitable information systems and practices while responding to the information needs of our communities.
Create and Share Research
- We create, curate, deliver, and preserve information resources that are central to higher education, the public good, the underrepresented and marginalized voices of the state and region, and the achievement of equity and justice.
- We disseminate the work and research of UNL students, faculty, and staff.
- We generate and publish original research in library and information science and numerous related disciplinary fields.
Support Community Engagement
- We provide inclusive and welcoming environments that support exploration and discovery, enable individual and collaborative learning, reward curiosity and creativity, and promote civic engagement.
- We create healthy spaces that represent traditional and emerging library values, in which services, resources, environments, and activities support and inspire the multidisciplinary research and learning needs of students and scholars.
Objective 1. Advance Teaching & Learning
Advance student learning, development, and success through collaborative, experiential, curricular, and co-curricular teaching and learning programs that support learners of all backgrounds and abilities.
- Develop a comprehensive curriculum mapping of intellectual and practical learning outcomes at the program and/or department level, to information literacy and other areas of primary expertise for the libraries. Identify a range of potential priority areas, opportunities, and approaches to meeting them.
- Design and implement a library student employment program that embraces continuous learning and experiential opportunity, is tied to clear learning outcomes, promotes inclusive excellence, and is comprehensive across our organization.
- Establish a community of practice for Libraries faculty and staff who participate in the design and delivery of teaching and learning programs and opportunities.
- Develop a digital learning strategy for online teaching and learning efforts in support of information literacy.
- Develop a documentation and assessment strategy and plan for the Libraries' teaching and learning efforts for the purposes of organizational planning, advocacy, and continuous improvement.
Objective 2. Accelerate Open Scholarship
Adopt policies and strategies that facilitate and promote open and equitable access to information. Avoid participation in unjust scholarly publishing systems and identify and participate in publishing systems that align with our values.
- Build a strong coalition of faculty and administrative partners across the system to champion open access to journal literature, open data, and, in conjunction with our Successful Teaching with Affordable Resources (STAR) partners, open educational resources.
- Develop values-based principles for collection development that increase investment in underrepresented areas, support ethical corporate practices, advance openness, and resist monopolization and enclosure (shared with Objective #5 below).
- Invest to expand knowledge and personnel capacity in the Libraries around open access and open educational approaches, including transformative agreements, and the data and analytic capacity to support planning and advocacy around open access.
Objective 3. Expand Research Services
Expand services and collaborations that respond to the contemporary needs of the University’s research communities.
- Design and implement a systematic review service, including the faculty and staff training required to support it.
- Expand the research data programs in the Libraries and in partnership with other UNL and NU groups, through investments in personnel, planning, and technical infrastructure, and encompassing the full research lifecycle, from data reference and acquisition, to analytic support, to publishing and archiving.
- Design and implement a strategy for continuously assessing the need for, delivery of, and impact of research services and collaborations, existing and emergent.
- Develop a more deliberately networked and collaborative research services program that engages expertise throughout the organization and creates new opportunities for faculty and staff; evolve the liaison role to emphasize deep engagement and expanded functional specialization.
- Expand our understanding about our existing services across the Libraries that support digital scholarship and bring these services together in a more deliberate digital scholarship program.
Objective 4. Invest in Digital Content Programs
Invest in the coordination of Libraries- and campus-based digital content creation, preservation, and access across the organization to enable more shared knowledge and greater efficiency.
- Invest in a new strategic digitization program to accelerate digitization of UNL collections, leveraging external and shared capacity (digitization vendors, Google, etc.) to the greatest extent possible.
- Informed by our campus and community partners, develop values-based principles for the selection and prioritization of digitization projects and initiatives, with a foremost priority of increasing representation of traditionally underrepresented and marginalized groups.
- Develop guidelines for digitization activities that advance ethical practice across all stages and aspects of digitization and that adhere to coherent, consistent, and well-documented legal practice.
- Implement a resource description (metadata) program for digital content that is efficient, comprehensive, standards-based, utilizes appropriate vocabularies, recognizes (a) clear database/s of record, connects to a well-articulated discovery strategy, and aggressively advances anti-racist and de-colonized descriptive practices.
- Design and begin to implement new organizational structures to unify, normalize, and streamline all digitization activities, supported by robust investments in training and equipment where warranted.
- Conduct a comprehensive inventory and assessment of the digital content systems currently in use, as well as those needed for future sustainability. This survey should include tools used to manage research outputs, locally digitized collections, and acquired born digital materials, as well as all of the related software and hardware, including storage.
Objective 5. Build a Sustainable Collections Program
Build a content and collections program that is collaborative, environmentally and financially sustainable, evidence-based, and that meets the research and teaching needs of our diverse community of students, staff, and faculty.
- Develop values-based principles for collection development that increase investment in underrepresented areas, support ethical corporate practices, advance openness, and resist monopolization and enclosure (shared with Objective#2 above).
- Identify and begin to plan to significantly reduce collections spending with organizations that do not align strongly with our values (divestment).
- Develop new approaches for assessing collections and their value that recognize and respond to disciplinary needs and historic marginalization.
- Accelerate engagement in collective collection activities with the University of Nebraska Consortium of Libraries (UNCL), Big Ten Academic Alliance, HathiTrust, Center for Research Libraries, and other consortial partners.
- Develop a strategy to investigate the environmental impacts, both positive and negative, of print and digital collection development, access, and management, to further inform the collection tactics mentioned above.
Objective 6. Promote Organizational Effectiveness
Implement organizational changes that support the equitable recruitment, development, and advancement of all Libraries staff and faculty, ensuring that everyone is heard, supported, given opportunities to advance, and able to contribute to decisions impacting their work.
- Conduct a staff job family and salary equity study, and report results with recommendations and a targeted budget request to address inequities.
- Review all position descriptions to reflect appropriate levels of professional contribution and time for professional development and research, and commit funding to adequately support these activities.
- Recruit, hire, and successfully retain more faculty and staff of color and from marginalized and underrepresented groups.
- Assess and propose revisions to Libraries faculty and staff annual evaluation processes.
- Commit to prioritizing: transparency; internal opportunities for leadership and advancement; and clarity around decision-making and related roles and responsibilities.
- Build and promote an organization-wide culture in which assessment is an ongoing, collaborative practice within and across the institution.