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Midwinter 2012, Dallas, Meeting Report

ULS Committee on the Future of University Libraries

Report by Marilyn Myers, Chair



  • ALA Midwinter Meeting Notes, January 20, 2012


Seven committee members (1 virtually, 1 submitting responses to Agenda items in advance) and 14 visitors participated in the meeting.


A. The Committee reviewed 2 draft documents (“The Future of University Libraries” by Michelle Dunaway and “The Future of Universities” by Marilyn Myers) as next steps beyond merely building bibliographies on these topics.   It was felt that these documents could serve as starting points for an ongoing series of shorter, more timely and more focused statements.  Suggested topics included library as place, collaborative strategies, e-publishing of scholarly research, generational differences in library staffs, scalable and adaptable systems for change in technology, personnel and space use.  The ULS Blog was identified as a site for more frequent (possibly monthly) submissions by Committee members.

 B. Other future Committee activities that were suggested included organizing panel discussions at upcoming conferences in Seattle and/or Chicago, holding online programs between conferences, and publishing a column in C&RL News.

 C. All attendees had an opportunity to respond to the question: What is your university administration saying about the strategies for our institution, and what do those strategies mean for your library?   Information on ten institutions was shared. 

 Most-commonly mentioned was explicitly aligning library and institutional goals in the areas of (1) student success, for example expanding information literacy training, repurposing library space, supporting growing numbers of online course offerings, and developing collaborative programming with other campus units, and (2) research support, especially in the sciences, taking the form of focused collection development, standardizing digital platforms, and new library programs and additional librarians to serve faculty meeting rising teaching and research expectations. 

 Libraries at four of the 10 institutions are (1) engaged in strategic planning, (2) hiring new library or campus academic administrators, (3) emphasizing unique programs or collections to raise national prominence, and (4) implementing cost-cutting measures, such as weeding collections, canceling expensive serials, buying information in an e-format only, and depending on consortial agreements to assure access to information.  Other items mentioned were moving up in national rankings, private fundraising, identifying additional revenue sources and structural realignment of services such as IT and writing centers with the library.

 Futures Committee Action Items

1.    Each committee member selects a topic of interest to write about for the ULS Blog.  It can focus on an idea, article, current challenge for your library, etc.  It does not need to be a literature review.  Email the selected topic and your planned posting date to all Committee members (to avoid duplication).  Target:  at least 3 topics posted by ALA Annual. 

2.    Propose a discussion topic, program or panel (topic and potential participants) for (a) our Anaheim meeting, and/or (b) future conferences.