Library Strategic Plan for 2005-2010

AUM Library Strategic Plan for 2005-2010
September 20, 2005

This planning document represents the efforts of the Planning & Assessment Committee. The members of this committee are:

Johnna Childs, Cataloging Librarian
Lucy Farrow, Government Information Librarian, Chair
Barbara Hightower, Library Instruction Coordinator
Dale Lee, Library Assistant, Public Services
Jeannette Lessels, Access Services Librarian
Betty Tims, Head Public Services
Janice Warren, Executive Secretary
Gwen Williams, Library Assistant, Access Services
Karen Williams, Interlibrary Loan Librarian

Dean Rickey Best charged the committee to project into the future and draft a plan for the Library for the next five years. The committee attempted to be both optimistic and realistic as we focused on our strengths to overcome our challenges. The resulting plan incorporates assessment methods to judge the progress made toward achieving the objectives outlined in the plan. This current committee owes a debt of gratitude to the 1997 committee who drafted the AUM Library Long-range Strategic Plan. We based the current plan on the work of this previous committee and much of that plan remains relevant today. Documents relevant to the work of this committee include the AUM Library Mission Statement; the Auburn University at Montgomery Strategic Plan for 2004-2008, Partners with Central Alabama; AUM Library Long-range Strategic Plan, 1997 Revision, and Targets for Transformation: A Strategic Plan for the Syracuse University Library, 2000-2005. We also gleaned information from the statistical reports of the AUM Office of Institutional Research and the 2003 OCLC Environmental Scan: Pattern Recognition.

In August 1997 the planning committee identified the vital issues of staffing and space as critical to the success of the AUM Library. The building is a challenge we must overcome as the Library strives for excellence in its mission. Inadequate space will remain a problem until a new building which is designed to be a fully functional library is built. The current Library building is poorly designed and not well suited for its current function. Students in focus groups held in 2005 identified several problems with the design including security and safety issues, lack of group study space, lighting problems, and service problems relating to the Tower. Despite ongoing efforts to weed the collection, shelf space is once again becoming exhausted and the circulating collection will soon be so overcrowded that shelving new materials and maintaining proper Library of Congress Classification order will be impossible. Growth in the Library Instruction program requires a second computer classroom. Without additional space in the building the Library will be forced to find off site storage space for materials, or greatly reduce the size of the collections.

Although space and staffing continue to be issues critical to the AUM Library’s success, the planning committee identified education/outreach as the vital issue critical to the continuing success of the AUM Library. The AUM Library counts among its strengths: excellent staff; excellent resources, both print and electronic formats; and excellent services. The biggest issue facing the Library in the next five years is getting that word of excellence out to our patrons, the students, faculty and staff of the Auburn University at Montgomery community. Although the Library should be a welcoming, comfortable place on campus, the librarians and support staff need to be out among the faculty and students, “selling” our resources and services, and teaching. The Library’s image must be expanded to incorporate more than just the physical building and impress upon people that we are the excellent services that we offer. We must concentrate on what makes us unique and have a dynamic presence on the Web. We need additional methods for Library Instruction beyond the traditional classroom setting. We must be creative and innovative with our outreach instead of remaining place bound. The Library is not just a building full of books; it is a wonderful collection of people and resources available through several different avenues, such as the Web, email, telephone, and in person.

Planning for and implementing a strategy of education/outreach is contingent on having the required staff and resources. If the Library cannot maintain high quality, well trained staff and excellent resources, we cannot sell our services or teach as we need to do. We must have sufficient staff to enable us to participate in opportunities that arise beyond the confines of the Library’s walls while still performing traditional library functions such as acquisitions, cataloging, access services, reference and interlibrary loan. We must be flexible, to learn quickly and to adapt, both at the personal level and at the corporate level. Library staff will continue to need updated training and education.

The Library is a place of change. Technology and user expectations push us forward. Accreditation standards and accountability issues are forcing us to look more closely at how and why we do things. As the formal assessment processes turn more toward outcomes assessment, the Library must be able to demonstrate its value to accrediting agencies, the University administration and the general public who support us with their tax dollars.  All the new technology and innovation in the world are worthless if they do not improve our patron’s life in some way. The explosion of information and the widespread availability of information of dubious quality make our mission to provide excellence in resources and services all the more critical. Our patrons need to be information literate and we have to sell them on the idea that we can help them achieve that goal. We cannot expect them to come to us; we will have to go to them. We can change lives for the better.