Kitchen Table Talks Generate New Ideas for Addressing Libraries’ Strategic Objectives
January 10, 2018
In November, Danuta A. Nitecki, Dean of Libraries, tried a new approach to engage staff in the Libraries’ ongoing transformation by introducing “The Dean’s Kitchen Table Talks.”
Literally held around the employee kitchen table located in the W. W. Hagerty Library, groups of 6 to 10 staff met with the Dean to informally brainstorm ways to address the Libraries’ refreshed strategic objectives over the next five years. Every member of the permanent Libraries staff participated in one of the six small-group discussions. The meeting format was well-received by staff, who welcomed this opportunity for conversation with the Dean. Although each session was scheduled to focus on only one of the three major objectives, during the talks ideas flowed around all of them.
Libraries staff collectively identified nearly 90 unique ideas for actions the Libraries might undertake to advance its refreshed strategic objectives. Thoughtful ideas ranged from renaming the 24/7 space in the W. W. Hagerty Library to increasing efforts to promote the Libraries’ interlibrary loan and course reserve services. Other imaginative and creative suggestions were made, like designing games for students to have fun while learning about information resources and library assistance.
Following the kitchen table talks, Dean Nitecki compiled a list of all action ideas raised in the meetings. Through an anonymous survey, she invited staff to prioritize which of these ideas they thought could be executed before the end of the academic year and would be most impactful for students. The highest-ranking candidates were then reviewed by the Libraries’ leadership groups.
From the remaining great ideas staff particularly liked, along with ideas identified during a discussion with Drexel students, a few opportunities are being framed for any interested library employee to participate in testing ways to inspire a quest for learning among our students. These include, for example, helping students launch a book club (an idea students suggested during the fall ScholarSnack event); offering ways for students to give peers feedback on public speaking; exploring technologies and communication techniques for students to share learning habits experienced in the library; and learning a new language with others.
The use of just one kitchen table helped energize staff to continue their engagement with the Libraries. It illustrated an approach the Libraries is exploring to intentionally leverage an environment to expand learning.
We hope you’ll follow along with our progress, and check the Libraries’ News Blog for updates and information on new initiatives and projects we are undertaking to achieve our goals for this academic year and beyond.