We are at a strange point of the year where, like time travelers, we must work and plan in three different fiscal years. The close of FY16 necessitates the activities of closure and assessment; FY17 is already galloping along with its own demands; and in some circles, we are already planning for the priorities FY18 in anticipation of State of the Libraries meeting in November.
In order to get a handle on that last item, I invited members of cabinet to join me for a two-day retreat to discuss where we see our priorities in the future. Over the course of two days, we reviewed SWOT analyses, LibQUAL+ survey results, budgets, previous State of the Unions, and on. We considered the impact of changes in the Libraries’ environment ranging from the master space plan to the needs of the Giddings collection. And we assessed the priorities we established at State of the Libraries in November 2015, asking what have we accomplished this year? And how do these accomplishments provide opportunity for further refinement and, in some cases, expansion of these priorities?
While I don’t have a finalized list of priorities to share at this time, I want to give you a sense of the tone and the focus of these discussions. Much of our discussion centered on the priorities established at the last State of the Libraries:
- Enhance undergraduate support
- Conduct a holistic review of special collections
- Optimize Collection development and management
- Clarify communication and decision-making
- Define the Libraries role in and identify resources for advanced research support
We have made tremendous strides in each of these areas, but what became clear through our discussion was that each “accomplishment,” was also a new beginning. For example, we considered the report of the completed special collections holistic review (an executive summary is available here), but this brought up questions about strategy, resources, and next steps.
So, I suspect when all is said and done, our priorities will fall into similar areas as last year, but with shifts in focus or additional avenues to explore. The one exception is that we will undoubtedly add a priority related to strengthening information control. Additional threads running through our conversations included the impact of the RCM budget model and the use of assessment in decision-making and planning.
I anticipate sharing the outcome of this retreat with you all in the coming weeks. We will all benefit from a set of clearly articulated, aspirational, and achievable priorities to guide our activities in the following year. The discussions initiated during the retreat will continue in cabinet and within units before the priorities are finalized. I thank you in advance for your participation and support during this process.