Equipping the Scholarly Workbench: Outreach for strategic alignment

December 14, 2017
Mimi Calter

As the Stanford Libraries develop to be a fully-realized, 21st Century Scholarly Workbench, we are thinking strategically about the tools that we supply and the services we support.  No workbench can hold every tool, and we must ensure that we deploy our resources to most effectively meet the needs of the always-evolving Stanford community and the broader research community.  To achieve this strategic alignment, the Stanford Libraries rely heavily on outreach by its staff.

Some outreach and communication occurs through formal channels, for example, the Faculty Senate Committee on Libraries, known as C-LIB.  C-LIB is charged by the Faculty Senate to “formulate policies concerning the character and use of the collections and academic information resources of the Stanford libraries,” and each year, in its six meetings, the committee hears about the programs that the libraries have undertaken, and the strategic goals that it has set for itself.  Perhaps most critically, C-LIB reviews the proposals that the libraries bring annually to the Budget Committee for funding, and their support is vital to determining which proposals are successful.  Thus, the formal outreach to C-LIB helps ensure the strategic alignment of library programs.

However, less formal structures for communication and outreach are even more important, as they inform the libraries work on programming and planning more directly.  On the front lines of the libraries’ outreach effort are the subject specialist librarians who have regular and deep contact with the faculty, departments, and students that they support.  Because these librarians have direct responsibility for collection development, they are able to ensure that, at a micro level, the libraries are addressing the needs of the practitioners in their subject areas.

While the subject specialists have dedicated constituencies, that responsibility for ongoing outreach and detailed communication extends to almost all library staff.  In an organization that prides itself on entrepreneurship, the next big idea can come from anywhere, and all staff have interactions with students or faculty that may lead them to discover an opportunity.  The libraries’ Concierge Project is one of several initiatives intended to empower staff to communicate about the libraries, understand the many tools that the scholarly workbench offers, and connect the Stanford community with the tools they need, and the significance of that responsibility cannot be over-emphasized.

Both Stanford University and the Stanford Libraries are vibrant organizations, who’s pursuit of excellence is widely recognized which are constantly evolving to meet new challenges.  Maintaining strategic alignment between the goals and objectives of the two organizations is critical to future success.  Communication is critical to achieving that alignment, and partnership demonstrates success.  As Deputy University Librarian, my role is to ensure that staff have the tools they need to provide outreach, to communicate effectively with their constituencies, and to develop and grow partnerships.  What additional support can the libraries provide to encourage communication and ensure future strategic?