Library strategy at Emory

Lorcan 2 min read

I find library strategy documents an interesting indicator of trends.

I do think that looking at how organizations present themselves and what is important to them in the documents they produce is revealing, documents such as annual reports, strategies, job ads, websites, org charts, and so on. It would be interesting to see more analysis of them. Of course, we would have to be cautious in assuming too much about what they do reveal! [Lorcan Dempsey’s weblog: Self disclosure]

I recently came across the Emory 5 year strategy document (2008-2012). It is pretty interesting in its range and ambition.

Through the implementation of its strategic plan, the Emory University Libraries (the Library) will be recognized as a model research library that fosters courageous inquiry through the integration of print, digital, and multi-media resources. During the next five years, the Library will strengthen further its distinctive work in two areas: digital information technology and special collections. At the same time, leaders in specific areas throughout the Emory library system will work collaboratively with both internal and external partners to increase access to these exceptional tools, systems, and resources; support new modes of teaching, learning, research, and scholarly communication; and preserve, store, and manage traditional and digital materials for future generations. By fulfilling these objectives, the Library will play a central role in both the creation and dissemination of knowledge and serve as an intellectual bridge between communities at Emory and between Emory and the external world. …

… The Library’s aggressive strategic plan, which will require roughly $100 million to implement, reflects the vision and priorities of Emory University. First, the plan leverages areas of particular strength within the library, namely advanced digital library technologies and renowned special collections, in much the same way the University’s strategic themes reflect areas of distinctive achievement and potential at Emory. Second, the plan proposes to mobilize leadership throughout the libraries to build a customer-centered organization and to increase access to resources for scholars both within and beyond Emory, just as the strategic initiatives look beyond our community. Third, the plan connects to the strategic themes by strengthening faculty distinction, preparing engaged scholars, reaching out to the external community, and increasing access to resources for scholarship in interdisciplinary fields. [Five Year Strategy for the Emory Libraries]

I was particularly struck here by two emphases which indicate a direction. The first is the very strong emphasis on “collaboration in production and dissemination of knowledge”. The library aims to engage much more deeply with research behaviors, supporting faculty in their digital scholarship, and the creation and sharing of their research outputs. The second is the focus on the distinctive contribution of their special collections, “the laboratory of the humanities”, on building these up and on connecting them to developing digital research environments.
The emphasis here is on institutional resources: the unique or rare materials that the library has acquired for its users, or the intellectual output of the university faculty. One of the interesting things to ponder is how the latter may be the “special collections” of the future, as the library takes these materials into curatorial care.
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