Who We Are
From the Dean
Know the Libraries
Perhaps at no time in the past has the impact of the external environment on universities and their libraries been so evident as now. The endeavors of learning and teaching, creating and disseminating scholarly knowledge, and extending services both on and off campus take place in increasingly complex times. Technology, economics, demographics, and other forces now frequently present challenges and opportunities that refuse to follow patterns that have been familiar for decades. While this kind of change understandably produces discomfort, the planning efforts of the Purdue University Libraries have helped us to focus on the needs of library users in light of the future.
The Libraries' focus on the future began with our first strategic plan, A Shared Commitment to Excellence: A Plan for the Future, 1992-1997. The value of that plan arose from the vision, mission, and actions created to guide the Libraries through the 1990's and beyond. The actions, which yielded concrete results for the Purdue University community, met user needs and changed the campus discourse regarding the Libraries. Implicit in the planning process and implementation was a significant shift in the Libraries' internal culture toward shared goals, evidenced in such initiatives as the installation of state-of-the-art library information technology and the ongoing development of an information literacy curriculum.
The plan now before you, Plan 2004: A Framework for Action, shares with its predecessor a firm grounding in the arenas of education, scholarship, and service which define the Libraries and the University. Building upon this foundation, the structure of this plan equips the Libraries for the nimble response required to meet the information needs of the Purdue community in an increasingly dynamic environment. The participation of the Libraries faculty and staff, and others in the University, in the creation of Plan 2004, while inextricably engaged in carrying out current initiatives, is a strong predictor of success in this regard. Special thanks are extended to the members of Team 2004, who guided the planning process.
Please join the faculty and staff of the Libraries as we direct our thoughts and energies toward an increasingly flexible, diverse, and "user-empowered" information environment. As always, your comments are welcomed.
Emily R. Mobley
Dean of Libraries
The basic structure of Plan 2004 began to form in a thoughtful analysis by the Libraries faculty and staff of the outcomes, strengths, and weaknesses of the Libraries' first strategic plan, A Shared Commitment to Excellence: A Plan for the Future, 1992-1997. From this analysis came a reaffirmation of the Libraries' vision as an image of a desirable future for the Libraries and our clientele, and a recommitment to our mission. A realization also emerged that our new plan needed to better equip the Libraries to respond rapidly, and with greater flexibility, to challenges and opportunities as they arise. This sense was underscored by the insights which emerged as campus deans, the University Library Committee, and the entire Libraries staff participated in a series of environmental scans to identify changes in higher education and in information and communication technology, and to consider their impact on the Libraries.
The first consideration in the development of the strategic directions for Plan 2004 was to maintain a strong relationship with the key directions in the first plan: user access, collection quality, library instruction, information delivery, and internal resources. Furthermore, the environmental analysis indicated a need to reflect more clearly the obvious shift toward access in the ownership-access balance of scholarly communication, as well as the increasingly learner-centered information age. Finally, it was essential to incorporate outcome assessment. The result is four strategic directions: The Learning Library, Scholarly Communication, User-Centered Services, and Infrastructure.
The next level in the structure of Plan 2004 - a group of strategic goals developed for each direction - builds into the plan the desired ability for rapid and flexible response to the environment. The determination of specific actions is reserved for annual planning. The strategic goals are designed to be measurable, outcome-oriented at a higher level than the implementation milestones of the first plan, realistic, and achievable in one to seven years. In addition, they are free of reference to specific technologies and methods, stating outcomes rather than an a priori determination of the means that will be used to achieve them. The goals for each strategic direction are presented in a list that has not been prioritized. Annual planning and priority-setting will involve an evaluation of the past year's actions and the drafting of actions for the coming year, all conducted in light of the strategic goals supported and broadened by particular actions and initiatives.
In the twenty-first century, the Purdue University Libraries provide optimum access to and delivery of information to the Purdue University community, regardless of location, by utilizing sophisticated technologies, rather than serving as a major local repository. Expert staff instruct and assist the members of the Purdue community in becoming proficient and productive users of information.
The Purdue University Libraries are partners in the teaching, research, and outreach missions of the University. The Libraries' primary role in this partnership is to develop self-directed learning skills in undergraduate students. A strong instruction program, closely coordinated with classroom faculty, is provided for all students, with emphasis on critical thinking, information literacy, and lifelong learning skills for undergraduates.
Sophisticated, discipline-oriented information services enhance individual and group learning, faculty productivity, and the outreach programs of the University. With the help of a variety of appropriate technologies, the Libraries provide access to information from local, regional, national, and international services. Some of these are maintained and operated on campus for the benefit of local users while others, although located remotely, are also accessed with ease. Once needed information has been identified, it is delivered rapidly and is available in a variety of formats.
Electronic and other forms of access, document delivery services, and Purdue's own collections are carefully managed in response to an ongoing needs assessment. The user's ability to access information, regardless of location, and the outcomes of the use of the information, together constitute the measure of the Libraries' success. This measure relies in part on, but is increasingly less defined by, the local collection. The Libraries' success is evaluated in light of the requirements of scholars and students in disciplines as diverse as the sciences, engineering and technology, humanities, and the social sciences.
The Libraries' information consultants work closely with individuals and groups to understand the context of their information needs, and to develop programs, systems, and technological applications to help them retrieve, manage, use, and communicate information more efficiently and effectively. The staff expertise, services, and collections extend beyond the West Lafayette campus through programs designed to provide rapid access to information for individuals, not-for-profit agencies, governmental units, and businesses, both within and outside the state of Indiana.
The programs and services of the Libraries are carried out by a diverse group of faculty and administrative, professional, and support staff. The "library family" is characterized by high morale, a strong sense of common purpose, and social responsibility. Staff from all employee classifications work together in flexible teams to analyze issues and opportunities, recommend actions, and participate in implementation.
Effective communication throughout the Libraries and an active staff development program contribute to a positive organizational climate and the successful achievement of the Libraries' mission. Library faculty and staff maintain excellent communication with the Libraries' partners in the University.
The Libraries are partners with the schools and departments of the University in meeting the teaching, research, and outreach commitments of Purdue University. The Libraries' primary role is embodied in five components of the mission: information transfer, a partner in teaching and lifelong learning, a partner in research, a partner in service and outreach, and a repository of the intellectual record.
The Libraries facilitate the identification and delivery of information, regardless of format, in support of the University's teaching, research, and outreach commitments, guided by an ongoing assessment of the information needs of the Libraries' primary user population. Although print has historically been the medium of information transfer, trends suggest that scholarly information, both current and retrospective, will increasingly be transferred by electronic means.
A PARTNER IN TEACHING AND LIFELONG LEARNING.
As the role that higher education institutions play in lifelong learning becomes increasingly clear, so too does the role of the library in helping individuals acquire the skills of lifelong learning. The ability to obtain and critically evaluate information is one hallmark of a university education. Increasingly, the skills of self-directed learning form another such hallmark. Through partnership with other teaching faculty, the Libraries offer a program of information literacy which emphasizes critical thinking skills, addresses the use of information in a variety of formats, and prepares students for a lifetime of learning. Through collaborative efforts with faculty in other disciplines, the Libraries not only respond to trends in higher education affecting teaching, but also participate in shaping curricular innovations made necessary by changes in the environment. Information resources required in support of these innovations are thus identified and access is facilitated as part of a broadened process at the University. The Libraries maintain an ongoing awareness of the curriculum and use this information in designing services and in the building and maintenance of collections. Distance learning capabilities permit the extension of this mission component beyond the West Lafayette campus to those participating in the University's lifelong learning programs.
A PARTNER IN RESEARCH.
The Libraries continually gather information regarding the research interests of Purdue faculty, for use in designing services and developing collections. Information resources required in support of the University's research initiatives are thus identified and access to them facilitated, regardless of location.
A PARTNER IN SERVICE AND OUTREACH.
The Libraries recognize a twofold responsibility in regard to the University's outreach role. In addition to direct service to individuals and groups both on and off campus, the Libraries provide informational support to those divisions and programs, such as the Cooperative Extension Service, Statewide Technology, and the Center for Lifelong Learning, which have off-campus outreach commitments.
A REPOSITORY OF THE INTELLECTUAL RECORD.
To support the mission of the University, the Libraries provide access to a carefully selected portion of the intellectual record. Due to cost and space requirements, this access increasingly involves other libraries' collections, whether in traditional or electronic and other nonprint formats. The expertise of Libraries staff increasingly focuses on facilitating access to content, including the interpersonal interactions involved, in contrast to the activities of acquiring the containers in which content may reside. The Libraries have repository and archival responsibility for Purdue publications, and provide a physical environment and remedial treatment conducive to longevity for library materials.
Higher education today is marked by a growing emphasis on the learner and the learning experience. As knowledge in all disciplines changes rapidly, one of the primary tasks of the undergraduate student is the mastery of information strategies and skills that are transferable across subject areas and serviceable for a lifetime. All members of the university community, in fact, require learning experiences designed to support the broadening, upward spiral of the continuous learning process. These must include a variety of opportunities to learn, whether the individual visits the library physically or virtually.
The familiar terrain of scholarly publishing is undergoing a transformation. Multiple forms of publication are now possible, and it is not clear what the balance will be in the future between owning a physical copy of a document and accessing the document via digital means. In some disciplines, for example, the sciences, the balance has already tipped as electronic versions of journals complement, compete with, and even replace those in printed format. Scholars are modifying the way they communicate, and a new integration of text and technology increasingly characterizes the creation, transfer, and utilization of knowledge. As information and communication technologies permit experimentation with new forms of scholarly publishing, intellectual property issues, including copyright, become the focus of national debate.
The value and benefits of the human interface become ever more critical as the access to digital materials increases and the concept of a library is transformed by new approaches to learning and scholarly communication. In this rapidly changing environment, libraries focus on offering services that effectively meet the needs of users.
Success in the strategic directions of The Learning Library, Scholarly Communication, and User-Centered Services requires a strong foundation in the form of the Libraries' infrastructure: knowledgeable staff; appropriate technologies, facilities, and communication mechanisms; internal and external funding; continual adjustment of budget resources; outcome-oriented assessment methods; and informed priorities. Ongoing evaluation of the infrastructure involves a combination of user input and self-evaluation to measure the Libraries' contribution to successful user outcomes.