Wendy Pradt Lougee
Aligning the Library as Strategic Asset

This case study of a library re-positioned in a digital age explores the primary goals and underlying capacities that allow for a library organization's full engagement with the community that it serves.

The paradigms that shape and govern libraries and the broader information environment are in transition. Earlier notions of library were focused on collections and the facilities and services that supported collection assets. The emerging paradigms are focused on new and less tangible assets-namely, library expertise and capacities to support the essential tasks of users.

A multi-year plan at the University of Minnesota has re-positioned the Libraries to align activity with University priorities and strategic positioning, to focus resources toward engagement within the University community, and to leverage capacities for collaboration. This re-positioning included critical analyses of emergent user processes. Studies of student and faculty behavior revealed a strong appetite for digital content and associated tools, but also challenges of exploiting those digital resources as traditional practices for managing the raw materials of scholarship were no longer effective.

The Libraries' response to the emerging demands of digital scholarship has included programs and services that are embedded into user workflow and that address critical needs of discrete communities. Library technology development is component-based and assumes re-purposing and customizing components to meet the needs of particular user groups. Programs are focused on enabling the user to work effectively in digital contexts. Collaboration within the academy remains a primary strategy.

Bielefeld University Library - last update: 13/11/2008