Library Retreats

Library Retreats

January 7, 2009

"Campus Connections."

By bringing Library faculty and staff together with campus leaders, we hope
to set the stage for our continued efforts in 2010 to plan for the
future of Library services within the context of broader trends and
concerns across campus.


8:00 - 8:15 am - Registration and Coffee

8:15 - 8:30 am - Opening Remarks   Paula Kaufman, Dean of Libraries and University Librarian

8:30 - 10:00 am - Campus Strategic Priorities (Panel of Campus Leaders with Participant Q&A)

                         Dick Wheeler, Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Vice Provost

                         Ruth V. Watkins, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

                         Michael Andrechak, Associate Provost for Budgets and Resource Planning

10:00 - 10:15 am - Break

10:15 - 11:45 am - Campus Values: Diversity (Presentation and Facilitated Small Group Discussion Program)

                         Chad Martinez, Assistant Director, Office of Equal Access and Opportunity

11:45 am - 12:00 pm - Closing Remarks        Paula Kaufman, Dean of Libraries and University Librarian

The University Library will be closed until 1 pm on the 7th in order to
allow as many of our faculty and staff to participate in this program as
possible, and participation is strongly encouraged. We realize that
intersession travel plans already made make it likely that some of us
will be unavailable, but we will look to provide follow-up opportunities
to continue the discussions begun at the retreat through the semester.


Summary by Scott Walter

Colleagues - thanks to the more than 200 of you who braved the elements
and made our first Library Retreat a success yesterday! Those who were
able to participate heard exciting ideas from campus leaders like Dick
Wheeler and Ruth Watkins, gained valuable insight into the University's
economic situation from Mike Andrechak, and were challenged to consider
the role of diversity in inter-personal dynamics in the workplace by
Chad Martinez. While I understand that the Twitter "back-channel" was
humming throughout the program, I wanted to take this opportunity to
provide a short summary for those who could not attend (or who, like me,
continue to resist Twitter's siren song).

Dick Wheeler, Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Vice
, opened the Retreat by reflecting on the important role the
Library has played throughout his life as an Illinois faculty member and
administrator. Dr. Wheeler noted that the excellence of the Library has
always been a distinctive aspect of the character of our institution,
but also that the measures used to assess the stature of a research
library have shifted. Changes in access to content, user information
needs and behaviors, and information technology, he said, have made
excellence in library service a "moving target." Finally, Dr. Wheeler
assured us that campus leadership recognizes the Library as essential to
the "larger University project," and that support for the Library
remains strong among our senior administrators.

Associate Provost Michael Andrechak provided a fact-filled summary of
the state of the University budget, and the broader context for state
and higher education budgets. He opened by noting the "defining moment
we are at as an institution," and proceeded to outline factors that have
contributed to the "perfect storm" in which the University now finds
itself: declining contributions of state dollars to the University
budget, declining state revenues, limits to increases we can make to
tuition and fees, skyrocketing utilities costs, and a campus that is
overextended in terms of its physical plant (or, as he put it, "our
footprint is too big"). He also outlined some of the strengths that
Illinois enjoys as an institution, as well as some of the progress made
in recent years in terms of improving financial control over campus
operations, streamlining administrative costs, and making investments in
facilities that provide long-term benefits in terms of the work of our
faculty and students, and in terms of utilities costs. Finally, he
outlined the planning measures the campus has put in place this year,
including new advisory groups, and identified our goal as not simply
surviving the short-term economic crisis in which we (and all our peer
institutions) find ourselves, but as finding ways to move forward and to
thrive in an era of declining resources so that "the name 'Illinois'
will still mean something in 30-40 years."  A link to his powerpoint is available here.

Finally, Ruth Watkins, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences,
engaged us in an activity in which we took the perspective of LAS
faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students to answer the
question: "What do you want and need from the Library?" Looking not just
as the differences across user type, but also the differences across
broad disciplinary groups, we shared some ideas about answers to those
questions, and asked Dean Watkins the same question: "What have you
heard from LAS faculty and students about what they want and need?" Dean
Watkins continued by noting some of the trends influencing her work in
LAS leadership, including the trend toward interdisciplinarity, the need
to balance traditional goals of a liberal arts education with student
demand for skills that will prepare them for a career, the increasing
interest in social science disciplines, and the increasing demand for
online learning options. Dean Watkins noted that we had identified
issues in terms of Library services that she had not considered in the
past, including our role in data services, and raised the idea that the
Library might have an important role to play in re-thinking General
Education coursework. Describing a possible review of Gen Ed courses
that could build on curricular themes, she noted that there might be a
place for an "information literacy" thread across those themes - an idea
raised in response to an observation from the audience regarding
perceived changes in the inquiry skills of undergraduate students.

Panelists then took questions from the audience on a number of topics,
and concluded with a reflection on what they had learned, with a welcome
observation coming from Dr. Wheeler regarding the unique vantage point
that Library faculty and staff have on the academic enterprise - we see
user behavior, especially in regard to the use of information resources
to conduct teaching, learning, and research, in ways that can be very
different from what might be seen from the vantage point of a classroom,
a College, or the administrative suites in Swanlund. We were all
heartened to hear that observation!

Following a break, Chad Martinez from the Office of Equal Opportunity
and Access
led the group in a series of small group discussions
highlighting areas of difference, and solicited feedback regarding the
way in which diversity among Library faculty and staff is recognized in
support of an inclusive work environment.

The Staff Development and Training Committee and the Diversity Committee
will be reviewing feedback from retreat participants as we plan for
future programs. Please send any comments you have about the program to
Beth Woodard and Cindy Ingold.  To see results of the survey sent out after the event, see this link.

Thanks, again, to everyone who helped to plan this event (with special
thanks to Beth Woodard for helping put the different pieces together so
effectively) and to everyone who participated. Watch for future programs
that will build on the threads of "Campus Connections" and Diversity
that we drew on today, and please let me know if you would like to
participate in future planning efforts.


The next retreat is tentatively planned for Wednesday, January 12, 2011.