University Library Campus Strategic Planning

October 14, 2005

University Library Planning Approach


The Library’s Executive Committee will oversee the Library’s strategic planning process in articulation with campus planning activities.

Recent Planning Activities

In 2003, each of the Library’s nine Divisions (communications-oriented groupings of units by discipline or function) prepared 25-year visions.

The Library’s Strategic Plan for FY05-09, Unlocking Our Past, Building Our Future, was updated in FY05. All Library faculty and staff had the opportunity to provide input through a series of group sessions and calls for comments by individuals.  Through that process the Library reviewed its mission and vision statements and created a plan that focuses on four major strategies:

  • Expanding our service orientation
  • Providing our users with world-class collections and resources
  • Building an infrastructure for the 21 st century
  • Developing resources and partnerships for the 21 st century

Current Planning Approach

On September 28, 2005, the Library’s faculty and academic professionals met for the better part of day to develop a shared vision of the Library in 2030.  Facilitated by an independent consultant, with Chancellor Richard Herman and Acting Provost Jesse Delia providing contextual remarks and sharing their visions of the university and its Library in the future, the group identified a number of actions the Library should take in the next 1-3 years to help it achieve the shared vision.

The Executive Committee will review the current strategic plan and the outcomes of the September 28 visioning session to ensure that they are in close articulation with the goals of the campus plan.

Each Division will be charged to carry out a SWOT analysis, involving Library faculty and staff, in early November. The Executive Committee will analyze the results and create a comprehensive Library SWOT analysis, which will be made available to all Library faculty and staff for comment and submitted to the campus by December 15, 2005.

In developing the Library’s plan, the Executive Committee will hold group discussions, open to all Library faculty and staff, at every appropriate step.

Because a significant part of the Library’s future plans will depend on the plans submitted by colleges and schools, we expect that we will be unable to complete our plans until we have the opportunity to review plans submitted by other campus units.

Comments on Chancellor’s Institutional Aspirations and Values

The Library shares Chancellor Herman’s aspiration for preeminence.  To achieve this by carrying out the goals the Chancellor articulated in his September 7, 2005 memorandum requires a preeminent 21 st-century library that will be:

  • A leader of UIUC’s intellectual development and an engine of scholarly innovation and excellence
  • A point of access to and integration of information, knowledge creation, and learning, cutting across disciplinary boundaries and expanding the borders of knowledge
  • A place of scholarly community and of discovery
  • A space that attracts users
  • An information and knowledge broker to the campus and beyond
  • A network of expertise that will ensure value, quality, and authenticity of information resources
  • Stewards of high quality information for Illinois and the nation
  • Educators and teachers of information literacy in all formats, equipping students and faculty with tools they need for intellectual exploration and growth
  • A partner in global initiatives to create and disseminate digital content for education and research

While we share the Chancellor’s desire for excellence “in all academic fields,” we hope that final version of the campus strategic plan will provide clear institutional emphases. Doing so will help the Library develop services and collections that support campus priorities.

Areas of Highest Importance for Library

The following areas emerged from our recent planning exercises as particularly important elements of our future. Following the list, we provide a narrative description of the areas of emphasis.

  • Reorienting library services, spaces, and faculty/staff skills to meet campus needs in the new multidisciplinary environment
  • Providing services and collections which will allow students to become literate citizens and savvy evaluators of information sources
  • Building services that meet the economic, social, and cultural needs of Illinois businesses, governments, and citizens
  • Developing information systems that facilitate access to high-quality information sources
  • Digitizing collections of exceptional teaching or research value
  • Preserving our vast collections for future generations
  • Building non-traditional income sources to help accomplish the above goals


In the future, our collections will comprise locally owned-and-preserved print, media, and digital resources, greatly amplified by a network of remotely-held content accessible to our users through arrangements of “trust-based ownership,” that is, collaborations and consortia among libraries and other information providers that “barter” content and services. These partnerships will make available to UIUC users content created, curated, and/or preserved in research libraries, smaller preserving institutions such as historical societies, government bodies, commercial entities, and disciplinary or domain-based associations. Our scholars will increasingly publish their own material, which mandates that we become proactive in developing partnerships with a variety of their domain organizations. While the Library will continue to provide access to our significant collection of non-digital resources, most users will access information freely over the Web, or through licenses on a for-fee basis. These licenses will be brokered by the library, but a significant portion of non-scholarly materials used by students and researchers will be available to individuals through micro-payments. The library will need to determine if and how to brand the content it provides (or creates) and make it clear to the user that content that appears to be “ free” is brokered by the library.

Content will come in smaller, repurposeable/remixable units: e.g., chapters instead of whole monographs. Metadata is therefore more important than ever and UIUC could develop the creation and vending or bartering of metadata as a revenue-generating service.

Preservation will continue to be a primary responsibility for us, both of our pre-eminent print collections and the e-resources we steward in our institutional repository. Preservation of both print and digital formats will demand major infrastructure investment, especially for physical storage for print and repository storage for digital. Preservation will mandate new partnerships, and again, if developed properly, can become an area for cost recovery/revenue, or a service bartered for services and content from others.


Users will be working from everywhere and they will expect content delivered anytime, anywhere. Except when using artifactual collections and those which for various reasons can only be served on site (e.g., copyright, privacy, donor restrictions), many people will not need to “go the library.” The library will be ubiquitous.

At the same time, the library will be a physical space on campus that people want to go to because it meets the social, pedagogic, creative and community needs of its users. Most spaces will be flexible, inviting, and functional, and will serve to facilitate collaborative activities. These spaces must be designed to be attractive to faculty, students, and donors whom we are recruiting, and it must be just as inviting to the public. The right space has the potential to facilitate new kinds of student and faculty interactions and spaces for reflection, but that will happen only if the space is transparent to users and does not foreground the “back-room” operations of the library and IT infrastructure.


In order to meet the needs of our users, we will need to have a stronger information infrastructure that will offer easy-to-use navigational tools developed with the user in mind. We will also need to become more adept with techniques for digitizing and creating digital content, both on our own and in concert with faculty, the UI Press, and others. This means that the library will pull in experts from wherever we need to – IT, software producers and vendors, NCSA and other centers for research, other libraries, and so forth. Will the library and IT merge? That may be important from an organizational point of view, but from the user’s point of view, it is only important that they appear to operate seamlessly as one.

Staff and Expertise

Expertise in navigating, validating, and recommending information sources will be provided to users both through staff and through advanced technologies (such as “self-correcting information resources”). Our librarians will be responsible for teaching information literacy. In addition to offering core courses in information competencies, they will be closely integrated with curricular development and able to provide reference services 24/7. The way to provide these crucial but demanding services is to build and maintain a network of subject, technical, legal and rights expertise that extends across campus and beyond, and to which users have access from wherever they are working. The library will need to recruit people with new skill sets, especially in the areas of pedagogy, technology, rights issues, and the economics of information. The core expertise of managing print collections will still be critical, especially in the area of preservation and digital conversion. But cataloging materials, acquiring resources, and providing reference will all need to be reinvented.


In order to maintain the margin of excellence that we desire for UIUC, we must become more creative and more entrepreneurial in our strategies for covering core costs and developing new sources for additional desired expenditures. We know the major cost drivers will be the technical infrastructure — hardware and software, energy — and that, if not for energy, then for the hardware and software elements, there exists great potential for developing models of cost-sharing with peer institutions, “bartering” of collections and services, and partnering with the strong IT departments and centers on campus, from NCSA to the Engineering College. We also know that partnerships with commerce, both for content and services, are an under-explored area.

Another major cost driver will be access to the quality collections that faculty and students will need and demand. New publishing models may offer some hope there, to the extent that the academy adopts models of open access. But never will “all content” be free, especially for those who study and teach the humanities, whose sources are seldom created in the academy for the academy. We should catalyze the move to open access by partnering strategically with domain-specific organizations and academic publishers who share aspirations to make content free or minimally expensive.

Summaries of Connections the Library makes with Broad Intellectual Themes and Future Campus Directions

The Library is all about connections.  The Library works closely with many academic units as well as with individual and groups of faculty.  Currently, we work especially closely with the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, CITES, and the Title VI National Resource Centers, and have newly strengthening partnerships underway with NCSA, the new Humanities and Computing efforts, members of the Cultural Engagement Council, and others.  Many department libraries work very closely with the units they serve; the collaborations between the Grainger Engineering Library and the College of Engineering, the Jenner Law Library and the College of Law, and the Education and Social Science Library with the Global Resources Center are but a few examples.  Just as important to the Library’s contributions to UIUC’s preeminence are the many partnerships it has with libraries and consortia in the State (e.g., CARLI, the Consortium of Academic Research Libraries in Illinois), the region (e.g., CIC), the nation (e.g., the Center for Research Libraries, the Digital Library Federation), and around the world (Global Resources Network; Mortenson Center partnerships).

Areas for Cross Campus Emphasis that are not well captured in the identified broad intellectual themes

  • Infrastructure plans and investments (e.g., networks, telecommunications)
  • Importance of alliances with other academic institutions
  • Essential role of our institution in the civic education of our community members regarding the skills needed to evaluate and access high quality information
  • Importance of support, both fiscal and intellectual, for the reorganization of library structure and spaces to meet the needs of interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary activities
  • Diffusion of important information sources beyond the Library (e.g., social science data sets such as ICPSR and Roper that are held by ATLAS)
  • Support for the very highest research activities
  • Development and fund-raising challenges for non-degree-granting units