University Librarian’s Report – January 2021

Welcome back, everyone—I hope you all had a restful winter break and are feeling energized and ready to tackle the challenges of a new semester.

Before we look forward to what the new year has in store, I wanted to take one last opportunity to thank you for all your excellent work in 2020. If you haven’t yet had a chance to do so, I’d like to encourage you to review our 2020 annual report. While the items collected there only begin to scratch the surface of what we took on in the last year, they do serve as a reminder of how we were able to rise to the challenges that were presented to us—particularly in light of the pandemic and all of the changes that it necessitated to the ways in which we work. I know that when the university looks back on this unique moment in its history, the Libraries will be remembered as a key contributor in the transition to online education and as an essential component in the successful continuation of research and teaching despite the turbulent times—so we should take pride in what we were able to accomplish on behalf of the Rutgers community and in support of the university’s mission.

Turning the page on 2020, there is plenty more exciting work coming down the pike in 2021. As you know, last week we launched our revamped SOAR website, built on the infrastructure provided by Ex Libris’s Esploro product. While additional enhancements are planned over the course of the year to come, you can begin working with your departments to bring them up to speed on the changes. To that end, a toolkit of materials has been developed to support your outreach, so I hope you will take advantage of it and help raise awareness about this important service we provide to the university community.

Changes are also well underway in our transition to Leganto for course reserves and our overall reimagining of course reserves workflows. Earlier this week, the course reserves scope in QuickSearch was formally removed and changes were made to our website reflecting this change. In addition to these more technical elements, we are moving in a direction with our overall course reserves strategy that will be more collaborative and better leverage the expertise of our subject specialists. I know that there may be some discomfort as we adjust to new workflows and processes in this area, but we should be encouraged that ultimately, we are making these changes to provide a more streamlined, consistent, and convenient experience to all our users. As we move forward with our explorations of tools like Alma Digital and Rapido, we should also remember that a user-centered philosophy is one of our core principles as an organization, and doing what we can to advance and uphold this ideal will always be a worthy endeavor—even if it challenges us to step outside our comfort zones temporarily as we adjust to changes in our day-to-day work.

Finally, I’d like to touch on our ongoing website redesign. We have entered an exciting phase of the project as design elements are being approved and our partners at NewCity move into the front-end development work that will bring life to the layouts. In the coming weeks, we will also start turning our attention to content development and governance modeling. There is too much to go over in detail here, so I will encourage you to save the date for next Wednesday, January 27 at 4:00 p.m., when project co-leads Amy Kimura and Antonio Barrera will be leading a Central Forum to provide an update on the website redesign. I hope you will plan to join us then and bring any questions you may have.

Again, these are just a few snapshots from among all the good work that is going on across the Libraries, but I hope they will serve as sufficient indication that we have plenty to be excited for heading into the new year. Thanks for everything you are doing, and I can’t wait to see what we will accomplish together in 2021.

Krisellen Maloney