Guest Column: UA Libraries - Meeting Challenges and Change

Guest Column: UA Libraries - Meeting Challenges and Change

By Carla J. StoffleDean, University Libraries and Center for Creative Photography
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Last year, in the context of economic realities of budget cuts coupled with no new money to balance the increasing inflation in library acquisitions costs, the University Libraries and Center for Creative Photography recognized the fact that our organizational structure was simply no longer sustainable. In anticipation of University cuts and in an effort to maximize resources, the University Libraries undertook an internal reorganization study in 2007-2008 and, in July 2008, began operating under our new structure.

Our reorganization was implemented with an external focus on streamlining operations, refining service efficiencies and connecting the expertise of our greatest asset – the knowledge and expertise of our librarians – to the benefit of campus. Without a doubt the University Libraries have emerged from our yearlong reorganization process leaner, but also with a new model of service that continues to reflect the needs of our users while at the same time supports the transparent delivery of library and information services. I wanted to take this opportunity to share with faculty and staff what our internal reorganization means for campus so far; other changes in the Libraries will be shared with campus as they arise.

For campus faculty and staff, most notable among the Libraries' reorganization are changes in our librarian teams. The resulting organizational structure merged the expertise of three librarian teams into one powerful unit: the Research Support Services team. This team focuses our librarians on the most pressing needs of faculty, researchers and graduate students through four service clusters: communication with faculty and graduate students; management of digital content; subject-specific information fluency education and support for campus instruction; and management of the library acquisitions budget and collection scope. Although the clustering of related services is a new model for the Libraries, the campus can continue to rely on the University Libraries' commitment to expanding access to existing scholarly information and undertaking projects to create new scholarly outlets such as:

  • Doug Jones' and Jim Martin's dedicated efforts to digitize approximately 900 items including books, pamphlets and serials representing Arizona agricultural history and rural life from 1820 through 1945. The project, funded by the United States Agriculture Information Network and the National Endowment for the Humanities, called on scholars and librarians at the UA to identify the rare and fragile items that were digitized; the final collection will be available shortly from the UA Institutional Repository at the Libraries.
  • Atifa Rawan working with professor Richard Wilkinson to create the Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections, a first of its kind, born-digital quarterly journal that promises to be significant to the world of archaeology as well as the publication of digital scholarship. The journal will be released in January from the UA Institutional Repository at the Libraries.

As this team continues to explore ways to best meet the needs of faculty, researchers and graduate students it has designated a single point of contact – librarysupport@u.library.arizona.edu – through which your collection requests, requests for librarian assistance and reference and research questions will be matched with the appropriate contact.

In addition to focusing the expertise of our librarians through the Research Support Services team, the Libraries also added human resources to our Undergraduate Services team in anticipation of an increased focus and growth of information fluency instruction in an online format. Based on the impact of our recently launched one-credit course, "The Skillful Researcher," the Libraries are creating a series of advanced one-credit courses that will further support campus instruction; this effort is ideally suited for the Undergraduate Services team and matched with the members' deep understanding of the learning and education needs of undergraduate students.

The Libraries' commitment to anticipating challenges makes us better positioned to respond to change in a way that supports the discovery of new knowledge and is consonant with the public land-grant tradition of The University of Arizona. Without a doubt, continuous development through change is an iterative process that is refined by feedback, resources and expertise. I will be at Faculty Senate Nov. 3 to discuss these and other changes that will shape future directions of the University Libraries.

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