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Dean's Update: Are service deliverables and institutional impact essential to value a library? 

December 12, 2022

We all care about the future of higher education. From a library perspective, librarians try to maximize the value they contribute to our industry’s success that goes beyond the academic calendar.

The articles in this issue of In Circulation illustrate some of this month’s Drexel Libraries’ deliverables. The value of telling these stories help us share with others in our university what libraries do and their impact—on building community across campus, curating institutional memories, applying unique expertise to strengthen access to information and data, and supporting campus initiatives that improve student experiences.   

We also share these descriptions for those readers interested in examples of ways libraries add value for their academic institution’s contributions to the success of higher education.  

A rundown of featured examples of library value follows.

Earlier this month, the Drexel Libraries’ ScholarSip event series kicked off a year of informal sharing of interdisciplinary research and conversation about climate change with a “food for thought” session on using the power of films to inspire climate activism. The topic attracted participants from multiple colleges and schools—and also several alums from across the country—who gathered together remotely via Zoom to learn about new research and build cross-campus connections and community.  Universities look for ways to distinguish their community engagement with important societal challenges.

Another example of how the Drexel Libraries builds community while raising awareness of critical societal challenges was our participation in the 2022 international Open Access Week.  Staff arranged a series of events that brought researchers together to exchange experiences and discuss the benefits of expanding accessibility of research output.  If you missed this example of supporting a core mission of higher education, you can revisit the hybrid events through the recordings on our YouTube channel.

Opening a time capsule found in a building about to undergo renovation is not a rare event. However, having an archivist on-hand to transfer the contents encased in it to a curated archival collection acknowledges the role university library and archives play to steward historic evidence of institutions of higher education. Library and archive organizations also utilize these types of evidence—and guide students and researchers to do so as well—to bring history’s relevance to current events. Check our staff’s use of  “A Selection of Moments from Drexel’s History” to provide an exhibit to entice visitors to the W. W. Hagerty Library to reflect on one higher education institution’s approach to prepare students for productive professional and civic lives.

Next, the interview with our recently hired Manager of Library Integrated Technology Systems illustrates the importance of investing in library technology support and expertise. At Drexel, this position uniquely focuses on ensuring the systems the Libraries relies on to provide access to authoritative information are working so we can meet a key mission of higher education—to disseminate knowledge and especially to ensure global access to information and data created by its institution’s researchers.

Our last featured article this month illustrates the Drexel Libraries as a facilitator to help colleagues share their research and support our students’ well-being and health. These are critical conditions for both student learning and retention. The ways an institution offers student support contribute to feelings of inclusiveness and belonging, both long-standing library values and drivers of services.

This sample of one academic library’s services—and nearly everything a library does—aims ultimately to instill a habit of reading among those pursuing their education. As a developed skill, the habit has long been a valuable outcome of higher education that prepares graduates with mastery of multiple literacies and critical thinking skills.

For those In Circulation readers looking for a break from ‘work’ during the coming holidays, let us close with a reminder that some of what you do for your job can be directed for your vacation. Libraries—and their events, care of resources, technological innovations, and inclusivity—provide valuable connections to a world of ideas and information for you.  

Best wishes to carve out some time for your habit of reading, whether for pleasure, for solving problems, or for the sheer enjoyment of illustrations and imagination.  

Merry holidays and happy welcome to the coming New Year!

Danuta A. Nitecki, PhD
Dean of Libraries