Dean’s Update: Changing Orientation Traditions

Dean’s Update: Changing Orientation Traditions
Jenny James Lee
September 11, 2014

[The Dean's Update is a reoccurring column introducing the Libraries' monthly newsletter In Circulation.]

September brings many orientation sessions for new members of the Drexel community and in this issue of In Circulation you will find examples of changing ways the Libraries welcomes new students, faculty and staff. With Drexel’s “hit the road running” pace these welcomes are also intended to prepare our new comers to the Dragon experience.

Some of our orientations repeat expected in-person activities such as presenting to an audience or staffing a booth at a welcome event. Read about a new approach by which the Libraries created videos to provide virtual interactions. People’s lives are busy and newcomers to Drexel are bombarded with information. Virtual orientations provide the benefit of meeting new students and faculty at times and locations that are most convenient to them, while remaining accessible for weeks after they have begun the term. Electronically delivered orientation sessions have the added benefit of being cost effective, as they allow librarians to travel without costly transport tickets, to a variety of Network destinations from California to New Jersey, or wherever Drexel students reside or faculty work.

Through this issue’s snapshots, you can also meet our newest staff as we welcome our own newcomers in the Libraries.

In recent months, we have been examining our priorities in light of tighter budgets and changing fiscal policies. With this in mind, I have begun a series of meetings with each academic dean, to offer them a traditional orientation to the Libraries goals, expenditures and progress toward key strategic objectives. But these conversations are two-way orientations as I invite their perspectives on what priorities will best position the Libraries to advance the University’s mission and strategic ambitions. One suggestion has been to reconsider the language used to present the Libraries and to orient stakeholders to its offerings in terms relevant to them —i.e. strengthen our marketing.

An evolving shift that is seen in thinking about the Libraries value is toward experiences over commodities. Using the threshold of the turn of the century, the last 15 years as compared to the prior 15 reflect concerns and emphasis in orienting campus new comers to what they may do rather than what the Libraries has to offer. In short, modern day librarians are in the business of inspiring and enabling engagement with data, and to do so as partners, sharing a motivation to achieve personal success of others in their community.

Just launched on September 8, 2014, the Libraries' new website enhances learning experiences by seeking to make online interactions with data, information and engagement with librarians convenient and intuitive. Much time was spent organizing data, structuring the site, and testing structures to encourage positive academic experiences.

Although we may shift our story to emphasize experiences, we continue to ground our decisions in factual data. A glimpse into some of the challenges in gathering data is offered in the interview with our business manager. We continue to welcome less structured data such as your comments sent through our online comment boxes, email or in person.

Happy academic New Year!

Danuta A. Nitecki, PhD
Dean of Libraries