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Dean's Update: Crafting cool new evidence in the heat of summer

July 11, 2018

June marked the end of the 2018 fiscal year, and we began thinking about preparing our next annual report—the project to pool historic evidence of the year’s activities. The last year’s report marked the end of a five-year strategic plan during which the Libraries focused on strengthening the organization for its transformation to address changes in the first part of this century. We also realized that the metrics used to track the Libraries’ resources and what we do with them—the library profession’s long-standing measures of inputs and outputs—are insufficient to report the difference the Libraries makes in advancing Drexel’s higher education mission.

Now well into the 21st century, we have refreshed the Libraries’ strategies for another five-year horizon. We find that one of our greatest challenges is to craft new evidence to document the Libraries’ value and tell the story of its contributions to the University. This issue of In Circulation highlights a few recent activities undertaken to engage different perspectives to tackle this challenge.

In late June, the Libraries staff engaged in a discussion during its quarterly all-staff meeting that challenged the story told by our annual counts about what we have and do. The discussion will continue in smaller group conversations in the coming months. 

This month, we also feature an interview with Sarah Newhouse, our newest staff member and the Libraries’ first digital archivist. The interview illustrates the different perspective Sarah brings to the Libraries in thinking about how we can better curate and make available data and digital content for the modern student and researcher to explore. 

We are also looking forward to the launch of our new and improved library system in early August. This new system will utilize three solutions from Ex Libris, a ProQuest Company, including the Alma Library Services Platform and the Summon Search tool, as well as Esploro, for which we will offer feedback for the company to prioritize finalization of this innovative research services platform. This integrated library system will ensure the Drexel community has faster and more comprehensive access to authoritative information—and increasingly data—resources. 

Although not yet fully digested, we also held two very informal but highly productive walking tours of the W. W. Hagerty Library at the end of June, which were followed by reflective conversations about ways the Libraries’ physical spaces might better offer unique environments for informal learning and community building around scholarship and other intellectual activities. The diverse group of faculty and administrators who offered their candid advice on the uses of library spaces joined our broader discussion of transforming the Libraries for coming years. Future issues of In Circulation will report how these different perspectives will inform the invitation for proposals to remodel the facility.

It promises to be a hot summer. Staff welcome the shortened Friday workdays and some have snatched a few minutes to create hot ideas to help evolve the library.

With wishes to all to stay cool.

Danuta A. Nitecki, PhD
Dean of Libraries