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Mid-year State of the Drexel University Libraries

November 27, 2023

The fall 2023 meeting of the Library Advisory Group (LAG) was an opportunity for key champions of the Drexel Libraries to come together for a hybrid meeting during which Danuta A. Nitecki, Dean of Libraries, offered a summary of the state of the Libraries as of the fiscal year’s midpointwhich coincides with the conclusion of her term as dean. 

The following highlights key messages raised to the 18 LAG members and one member of the Senate Committee on Academic Support who attended the meeting.


Mid-year State of the Drexel Libraries


Following the conclusion of the Drexel Libraries’ 2017-22 strategic plan, the Libraries aligned its essential commitments and existing resources with the Drexel 2030 Strategic Plan. Projecting for a two-year window from FY23 - FY25, the Libraries addresses these three strategic directions:


  1. Enhance Drexel’s diverse intellectual culture. 
  2. Elevate Drexel’s research reputation. 
  3. Empower Drexel students to utilize scientific reasoning.

The Libraries reaffirmed its core mission and set annual initiatives toward contributing to the related University imperatives. The following highlights the Libraries’ progress on four FY23-24 initiatives:

  1. The Libraries’ Organization Realignment 

    The Libraries’ organization realignment balances its commitment to provide essential and unique library services and operations with recognition of the staff’s incredible commitment and their amazing hard work to ensure Drexel Dragons’ access to recorded expressions and authoritative information. Much of the latest realignment has been to right-size expectations of what the Libraries can best do in response to recent changes and to ensure staff wellness and professional growth.


    As library leaders repeatedly do, the Drexel Libraries’ strategic leadership will continue to recognize and position staff to optimize its lean workforce, to modify priorities and to adjust its flexible team structure. These changes will strengthen the Libraries’ flexibility and nimbleness to respond to changes in staffing levels, University structures, and emerging opportunities through curation, access, dissemination, and education about information and data.

  2. Library as Place

    We continue to attend to the “library as place” and pursue current initiatives toward providing a central campus environment to inspire self-directed learning. These include consolidation of library spaces, assessment of facilities infrastructure, and a museum collaboration to design library installations to promote values and inspire skills development around multi-literacies dependent on truth, data, critical thinking, and freedom of information. 


    Results of these initiatives will allow us to assess user behaviors, technology, and space design for active learning, increasingly in hybrid environments toward building a modern library for an R1 university. 

  3. “Scientific Reasoning” to Distinguish a Drexel Education 

    A collaborative examination of embedding scientific reasoning in curriculum and student-selected experiences proposes a distinctive competency for Drexel Dragons to develop self-directed learning habits in preparation for the professional workforce. Scientific reasoning is one framework that provides a common approach to problem solving, which is dependent on the scientific method and reliant on finding, evaluating, and using accurate evidence, while it is also adaptable to any discipline.


    The Libraries proposes to help manage the accessibility of cost-effective, online mini-courses to develop curriculum, and to use micro-credentials as a complementary approach to adding nimble and much-sought learning experiences for students beyond their courses.


    A recommended pilot project undertaken by a partnership with the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science & Health Systems and the Libraries would demonstrate the use of available training offered by Coursera, an online course provider, to embed this and other core competencies in one curriculum, while also assisting more faculty to adapt the framework to other disciplines and to encourage students to learn on their own.

  4. Drexel Research Discovery Portal 

    Key milestones are reached this mid-year in the Libraries’ long effort toward creating and curating a comprehensive database on Drexel-generated research output and its creators. The Libraries created the Drexel Research Discovery Portal, a repository of metadata about Drexel research output and its researchers. The Portal was built using Esploro, a licensed research information management platform from the vendor Ex Libris. This system integrates with other DUL systems for access to archived content. 


    Libraries staff have implemented automated data capture, streamlined procedures for quality check, and grew system expertise to further develop this infrastructure to improve Drexel research reputation, and to help train faculty and students for competitive use of data about research and their own achievements.


    We also have met the Libraries’ records management responsibilities for Electronic Theses & Dissertation (ETDs), a subset of Drexel-generated research. The Research Discovery Portal contains metadata for all these documents produced by Drexel and links to digitized theses and dissertations, including those predating the Drexel acquisition of Hahnemann University and its affiliates. The database now contains entries for over 77,000 publications and data sets, as well as profiled information of Drexel researchers. This is a unique database larger than sources of information about Drexel used by commercial vendors supplying data for rankings and describing research reputation.


    We are also exploring the addition of Altmetric Explorer, a tool to generate reports of information beyond bibliometrics so researchers can easily analyze the broad reach of their research and who is talking about it.

The Dean concluded the meeting with a parting reflection and note of appreciation for the strong support and championing for the Libraries that the LAG members have given over the years.  

It is time for me to pass the torch held by deans and directors of the DUL,” Dean Nitecki said. I thank you, as well as the dedicated library staff that serve and advocate your interests. I wish you all the best to continue in your library advisory and advocacy roles through the next leadership transition.