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  • Report of the Association of Research Libraries Strategic Thinking and Design Initiative

    August 2014

    The VisionIn 2033, the research library will have shifted from its role as a knowledge service provider within the university to become a collaborative partner within a rich and diverse learning and research ecosystem.

  • Report of the Association of Research Libraries Strategic Thinking and Design Initiative

    August 2014

    Published by the Association of Research Libraries

    This work was made possible by grants from:

    and

    The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

    Contributors to this report include Sue Baughman, David Consiglio, Lee Anne George, Susan Gibbons, David Gift, Kaylyn Groves, Tom Hickerson, James Hilton, Lori Jahnke, Anne Kenney, Wendy Pradt Lougee, Rick Luce, Carol Mandel, Jim Neal, Susan Nutter, Ann Pendleton-Jullian, Dawn Schmitz, Elliott Shore, Elizabeth Waraksa, and John Wilkin, who took leadership roles among the 365 participants in the Regional Design Meetings and Design Studios.

  • Table of ContentsIntroduction .................................................................................................................. 5

    The Process .................................................................................................................... 6

    Shaping a Framework for ARL ........................................................................................... 8

    ARL Strategic Framework 2015+ ........................................................................................ 9

    Essential Capacities ........................................................................................................ 9

    Leadership and the Team ............................................................................................... 10

    The Process in Detail ..................................................................................................... 11

    Work Stream 1: Data Gathering and Analysis ................................................................ 12

    Work Stream 2: Regional Design Meetings ................................................................... 14

    Work Stream 3: Design Studios ..................................................................................15

    Video Interviews with Participants ............................................................................. 19

    System of Action ........................................................................................................... 21

    Collective Collections ...............................................................................................22

    Scholarly Dissemination Engine .................................................................................22

    Libraries that Learn ..................................................................................................22

    ARL Academy ...........................................................................................................22

    Innovation Lab ........................................................................................................22

    Advancing the System of Action .................................................................................23

    Implementing and Resourcing the Framework .................................................................. 23

    Conclusion ................................................................................................................... 24

    Appendix A: Analysis of Themes Emerging from Design Meetings ......................................... 25

    1. Design Studio #1, Washington, DC, October 29, 2013 ................................................. 25

    2. Collation of Ideas from Regional Design Meetings as of November 29, 2013 .................. 25

    3. Regional Design Meeting, Philadelphia, December 23, 2013 ........................................ 26

  • Appendix B: Text Mining of University, Library, and IT Strategic Plans ................................. 27

    Appendix C: Taxonomy of Regional Design Meeting Story Content ....................................... 43

    Overall Taxonomy .................................................................................................... 43

    Taxonomy of stories by major themes, with examples of cool stories highlighted ............. 43

    Appendix D: Tagonomy of the Shark in the Water/Cool Cat Stories ............................. 45

    Methodology ........................................................................................................... 45

    Tags ....................................................................................................................... 45

    Totals .....................................................................................................................46

    A Few Observations .................................................................................................. 51

    Appendix E: Environmental Scan: ARL Library Strategic Plans ............................................ 53

    Introduction ............................................................................................................53

    Overview of the Problem ........................................................................................... 53

    Methodology ...........................................................................................................54

    Findings ..................................................................................................................54

    Word Cloud .............................................................................................................58

    IT and Institutional Plans .......................................................................................... 59

    Conclusion .............................................................................................................. 59

    Appendix F: Words of Wisdom on Collaborative Projects .................................................... 61

    Getting Started ........................................................................................................ 61

    Keys to Success ........................................................................................................ 61

    Potential Challenges ................................................................................................62

    Lessons Learned ......................................................................................................62

    Appendix G: Initial Draft System of Action, May 2014 (later modified) .................................. 65

    Initiatives ...............................................................................................................65

    Appendix H: Bibliographic Review ................................................................................... 69

  • August 2014 5

    IntroductionThis report documents the Strategic Thinking and Design work in which the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) engaged from the fall of 2013 through the spring of 2014. Fueled by the deep desire of the ARL membership to rise up to the challenges facing higher education in the 21st century, and grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Association engaged in an unprecedented project to reimagine the future of the research library and reshape its organization to help bring that future into being.

    This process was unprecedented in two ways: it neither listed the challenges that research libraries face and then tried to meliorate them one by one nor did it seek a silver-bullet technological solution to move the community forward. Instead, the processwhich engaged more than 360 people drawn from throughout the library community, both within ARL and beyond, and from the academic, funding, and association communitiesused a technique called worldbuilding, coupled with deep research into the strategic planning in which higher education institutions have already invested heavily, to fashion a System of Action for ARL to achieve its desired future. The ARL membership will again examine that work and then consider it for adoption at the October 2014 Membership Meeting in Washington, DC. Some initial work toward implementation has already begun, and the Association plans to assess, consider, reevaluate, and revise its actions on an ongoing basis as it works to support this key part of the worlds higher education infrastructure.

    The genesis of ARLs Strategic Thinking and Design process was John Seely Browns October 2012 ARL Fall Forum lecture, Changing How We Think About and Lead Change (http://www.arl.org/storage/documents/publications/ff12-brown.pdf), in which he warned the audience about the competency trap: because we are experts in what we know, when we confront problems, we do more of what we know how to do, rather than look to the larger context for completely new solutions. The moral of his story: incremental change lands you on the rocks.

    John Seely Brown challenged ARL to design meaningful experiences that tap intuition more than reasoning, to encourage innovative practices around authorized ones, and to do this in a rhythm that balances the dramatic with the systematic by conceiving of a vision that is compelling, strategically ambiguous, positive, and aspirational.

    ARL embraced this challenge the following fall by embarking upon an extensive, broadly engaging Strategic Thinking and Design process designed to frame the critical work of the Association and define ARLs role in higher education. Focusing on these two elementsARLs critical work