We Are Not Alone – Thoughts on the BTAA Meeting

I know that we spend a lot of time focused on building infrastructure. Our top priorities involve undergraduate success and strengthening information control to ensure that our users have efficient, reliable access to information resources.

I just got back from a Big10 meeting at Purdue. At the meeting, we reviewed the results of a survey of the BTAA library directors’ top priorities for future collaborative activities. Each director picked three areas of interest. The results:

  • Collection Management 54%
  • Student Success Measures 46%
  • OER 46%
  • Data Management/Curation 38%
  • Analytics/Assessment 38%
  • Open Access 15%

The remaining four items: Special Collections, Professional Development, Digital Humanities, and Library Publishing all were 8%.

In another part of the survey, the directors listed the most important BTAA initiatives as Discovery to Delivery, Collections Infrastructure and Management, and Student Success.

Although these priorities and initiatives do not represent the most important work of the libraries, the selections do say something about initiatives that are most effective when done ‘at scale’ with the broader community. As I listened to my colleagues share their experiences and challenges, it struck me that we are not the only research library that is focusing on basics.

In a meeting back here at Rutgers, Judy Cohn brought up the NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Library Edition. This report from the New Media Consortium looks at trends in libraries, technology, and education to imagine what is on the five-year horizon for academic and research libraries. It is produced in collaboration with University of Applied Sciences (HTW) Chur, Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB), ETH Library, and the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL). It identifies trends, challenges, and developments in technology that will impact how libraries plan to meet the needs of their users, how we function day to day and year to year, and the services that will be in highest demand. The first of the top 10 highlights listed was:

Libraries remain the gatekeepers to rich tapestries of information and knowledge. As the volume of we resources increases, libraries are charged with finding new ways to organize and disseminate research to make it easier to discover, digest, and track.

It was surprised to see that improving ‘information control’ was featured so prominently in the report. It seems that academic and research libraries have a renewed focus on the fundamentals and are redesigning infrastructure so that it better meets the changes in the environment. I know there are times when we feel like we are behind; however, it appears that we are actually in sync with many of our peers.

Over the next week, we will have meetings with Office of Information Technology and the Office of Research and Economic Development to discuss potential collaboration on research and digital humanities infrastructure. This will move us closer to another one of our priorities: identifying and communicating our role in the broader research environment of Rutgers. We are making progress!

While we are moving fast, our activities continue to be guided by the expertise and research of our colleagues. There are several examples of this that come to mind, all with librarywide participation. The Discovery Working Group has offered a model of how to harness data and best practices to make impactful changes in how our users discover and access collections via our website. Their work continues to propel us forward, even as the Ex Libris Implementation Team works to create nimble and knowledgeable teams to accommodate the anticipated workload over the next 7 months. And the Website Improvement Team is rolling out an impressive, incremental website refresh derived from extensive user research and analytics. The work that we are doing now will pay off in the coming years with flexible and easy to manage systems. It is my hope that these changes will make it easier for you to do the important work that you do.

As we move into the holiday season, I would like to thank you for your dedication and patience. It has been a difficult few years of change in response to the new environment, but, thanks to your efforts, these challenges continue to be met with creativity, hard work, and shared purpose. Your dedication to Rutgers, our students, and our faculty is impressive and collectively, we are creating libraries—digital and physical—that encourage learning and exploration and support to the success of our users. I am very grateful to count you all as my colleagues and I wish you and your families the happiest of holidays and all the best for the New Year!



Krisellen Maloney