Gaunt gave an overview of the process the Libraries are taking to plan for the update of their strategic plan for the next five years. The results of several initiatives taking place over the course of the semester will be incorporated into the plan. The first is a communications audit that involves an external consulting firm to provide a report with recommendations on how the Libraries might enhance internal communication--within the Libraries and with the university's faculty, students, and staff. The major tool to gather information will be an e-mail survey sent to a sample of the community. Focus group interviews and one-on-one interviews with key influencers in the university will inform the design of the survey and the report. The firm will also examine the Libraries' print communications, its website, and other communications vehicles.
A second initiative is the determination of excellence indicators to measure library success. The Libraries Assessment Committee is examining national norms and other indicators to prepare a 360 degree profile of the measures that are important from the perspective of faculty, students, administrators and library personnel. The university-wide library advisory committee will have an opportunity to review and respond to the committee's recommendations in the Fall.
A third initiative is a symposium on information literacy to be held on May 6th, to which this committee's members will be invited. The purpose of the symposium is to start a university-wide dialog on the Middle States recommendation that information literacy be a measurable learning outcome for students. A member of the Middle States Accreditation review board and an academic administrator from the California State system will talk about the requirement and how a large university system is implementing it.
The last initiative discussed is at the heart of the strategic plan and that is what faculty and students want and need from the libraries over the next five years. Bob Sewell gave a brief summary of the responses our library liaisons are getting from the disciplinary faculty they serve. There were many commonalities--more digital resources, more print resources, especially books in all areas including the sciences, an increasing need for data and other media resources, as well as archival materials for some disciplines. There is a desire for more computers in the libraries and group work spaces. Many faculty commented on the physical condition of the libraries and the need to enhance their appearance. Some faculty suggested that the Libraries pursue the development of a digital repository and consider publishing open access journals.
The bulk of the meeting was an open discussion on the next stages of the process of information gathering, which will be focus group discussions with faculty and students. The Libraries sought advice on focus group interview questions. Most thought a few open-ended questions (a draft was distributed) about how the faculty use and interact with information resources in their research and instruction would be useful to engage in a dialogue. Information and insights derived from those discussions would help the Libraries determine new areas or services to support. Questions about whether faculty look to their professional organizations for certain services/initiatives, or what tools they use to facilitate their research are also good. Others commented that adding some forced choice questions resulting from the dialog might also be useful to test ideas and provide additional background for other focus groups or interviews. For instance, would faculty value one thing over the other. This dialog would help prioritize decisions. We might ask members of the focus groups if they would use a digital repository for their research and teaching or an e-journal platform for publishing scholarly journals. The discussion leader could then explain what these two library initiatives are and how they could assist faculty in their work. In addition to hearing from students in focus groups, faculty could also be asked to relay what they hear from their students. There was some discussion of the university's faculty survey, the use/non-use of it, and the value of having faculty research information in a useable database, such as a digital repository. Several faculty questioned whether a digital repository is where faculty at Rutgers or elsewhere would look for research or instructional materials.
Discussion about instruction focused on the faculty's growing use of course management systems, copyright challenges in the use of digital materials, and information literacy in the curriculum. It was noted that e-college has an information literacy tutorial built into its courses to help students in the information seeking process. The Middle States guidelines now specify information literacy as a learning outcome. The discussion of how to incorporate this into the curriculum at Rutgers highlighted the lack of standard assessments for student learning at the university and the difficulties of implementing any such tests outside the classroom experience. It was noted that the Libraries information literacy symposium should be linked to the newly established committee on student learning and life, so that a broad dialogue can take place.
How best to use the Advisory committee in the creation of the next strategic plan was discussed. Members thought that their role as advisory to a library strategic plan committee would be the most valuable. The Strategic Plan committee can seek advice from the Advisory Committee at various stages in the process.
Marlie Wasserman asked for reactions to the CIC report on publishing in the social sciences and humanities that was distributed to the committee. The recommendations were reasonable and some of them might be included in the Libraries' updated strategic plan. The background discussions at their symposium, however, seemed very different from what is being discussed elsewhere--that is the difficulty of authors getting published, and the financial difficulties of university presses. One wondered if this was a representative group.