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Local Components of the Rutgers University Libraries Framework Matrix

Last month I introduced the idea of using Frameworks to describe our increasingly complex environment. As a reminder, Frameworks provide a way to divide complex processes into manageable chunks while retaining information about relationships and dependencies between the components. Developing a Service and Project Framework will give us a common vocabulary and a better understanding of the relationships and dependencies between local and central services.

Over the past two Cabinet meetings, we have worked to establish a Framework by using a matrix to describe components of a range of our services, including items like instruction, reference, or access to collections, and projects like ExLibris and OAT implementation. With each pass, we identified areas for improving the Framework and developed better ways to describe the work we do within our unique environment.

This matrix expands on the service categories outlined in the OCLC Research Library Partnership Reports on the Realities of Research Data Management—education, expertise, curation—to accommodate the full range of work done at Rutgers University Libraries. The matrix continues to evolve, but the important thing to note is that it breaks down our work into components related to Service Category or Project and Type of Support.

The best way to read this draft of the matrix is to start with a Service category and read down the column. Each of the cells describes one component of a service or project, with the lower cells describing the infrastructure required to deliver the service or complete the project.

Click this image to download and view a PDF version of the matrix.

About Service Categories

There are many different ways that we could describe the categories of service that we provide, but based on our discussions, we found it most useful to group our services based roughly on the breadth of the audience; whether it serves mostly Rutgers faculty and students or external scholars and the public; and the number of stakeholders we work with to design of the service or resource. The Service Categories include:

  • Foundation: Services directly related to finding, evaluating, and using information in all forms. Typically, we design these services for a wide range of faculty and students. These are sometimes referred to as “core” library services.
  • Boutique: Focused services and resources that are designed by a small number of stakeholders (often outside of the Libraries) and that primarily serve a targeted audience within Rutgers, the needs of scholars outside of Rutgers, or the community.
  • Education: Providing information about aspects of scholarly communication (beyond Foundation instruction like information literacy) designed for a wide range of faculty and students.
  • Consulting: Providing specialized recommendations and information to an individual or group based on their specific scholarly communication need.

About Projects:

These projects are planned, intentional activities that span local and central units and expertise to change our infrastructure, create new services, or generate new information resources. Our central infrastructure has to support four unique missions, so we need to ensure that changes to our services and resources work to advance all of these goals.

  • Innovating: Projects that lead to the design and development of new Foundation services, including improvements to existing Foundation services. Upon completion, the long-term operation and maintenance of these projects shifts to the Foundation service category.
  • Creating: Projects that require extensive expertise and central and local infrastructure to develop Boutigue services and knowledge products. These are usually collaborative projects with non-library units and involve a small number of stakeholders. Upon completion, the long-term operation and maintenance of these projects shifts to the Boutique service category.

About the Types of Support:

The Type of Support element of the matrix, involves both local and central activities. This month, I would like to focus on the local elements because they will help guide how we think about the central planning process. (Reread this post from last year for a refresher on the central planning process).

  • Local: Direct support to faculty and students. Examples include library instruction, material selection, and reference support.
  • Local Infrastructure: Services that support the work of others in the library and that are provided by local faculty and staff. Examples include gathering local statistics, scheduling classes, and the repair and preservation of materials.

So how does this impact the Planning Process?

The Framework will need refinement, but even the process of creating this matrix has resulted in important conversations and clarification of the work we do, the locus of responsibility for processes, and how we identify and distinguish between local-level and Libraries-wide priorities. Although I am asking library directors to provide a comprehensive list of priorities for the coming years, the central planning process will only focus on priorities that need central coordination or changes in the central infrastructure.

Foundation services represent the bulk of what we do. Ongoing work and even some improvements in these services can be completed at the local level, but changes that need support from central infrastructure—for example coding, non-routine digital projects, changes to a website, or programming—require coordination to ensure that they do not cause unexpected problems. Modifications that may seem small on the surface can have a big impact on the workflows in the central units. During the planning process we will distinguish between priorities that can be completed on the local level and those that require new Innovating projects to ensure that services are coordinated and effectively use the shared infrastructure.

Boutique services also come with their own quirks. Because these projects are expensive—they use a lot of expertise and library infrastructure to complete and to maintain—the bar is particularly high for new priorities. The consideration here will be how significant is the impact of this proposal? What audiences or needs does it address? During the planning process we will prioritize projects and assign resources to Creating projects to develop new services and resources.

There is a circular movement between Foundation services and Innovating projects—significant changes to Foundation services are accomplished via Innovating projects; and once complete, Innovating projects shift to Foundation services. This flow is also present in the movement between Boutique services and Creating projects.

By definition, Education and Consulting services are local and should only use existing shared infrastructure. There are many ideas for improvement—workshops for graduate students or consultations on data management—that are worthy initiatives and can be coordinated within the local units.


Next month, I will include the portions of the matrix that describe how central infrastructure, coordination, and expertise interacts with the other parts of the matrix. In the meantime, please explore the matrix (the best way, as I mentioned earlier is to read down the columns). Think about how your work would fit into these columns–which of our services would fit into each category? How are services delivered to our users at the local level? How are they supported by local infrastructure? Are there services that don’t fit into this matrix?

This is an evolving document and I encourage you to talk to your library director or AUL and to send in feedback and suggestions.

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Krisellen Maloney

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