An image of the Newman Tower of Collections and Exploration on Level 1 of Olin Library.
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Announcing New Strategic Priorities for Washington University Libraries

The University Libraries are establishing a new set of strategic priorities inspired by and in alignment with Washington University’s strategic plan, Here and Next. While the Libraries went through an extensive strategic planning process and rolled out a formal strategic plan in 2019, momentous changes have rocked the world and the campus since. Notably, COVID-19 has significantly impacted institutional structures and services, and the Libraries have had a change in leadership.  

These transformations and disruptions, combined with the changing institutional objectives set out in the university’s ongoing strategic planning process, drive the need for the Libraries to capture and reframe the progress made under its 2019 strategic plan. The discussion and review of those reframed strategic priorities have just begun, and key concepts have already emerged from recent discussions with faculty and staff. The full set of guiding principles and institutional priorities are summarized in the image below.  

A venn diagram showing the three priority areas - infrastructure, collections, and collaboration - of the 2022-2024 Strategic Priorities and where the three guiding principles of Research Focus; Academic Distinction; and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion interact within the priority area infrastructure.

Like the university’s strategic plan, the Libraries’ strategic priorities will operate under guiding principles [see diagram]. These principles include a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion and their integration with all aspects of the strategic priorities and strategic vision for future directions; incorporating the concept of academic distinction in alignment with the university’s mission; and, an amplified research focus that connects with the needs of a global research institution.  

Within those guiding principles, growth and development at the Libraries will be concentrated in three priority areas: infrastructure, collections, and collaboration. 

Infrastructure spans the digital and physical. Physical needs include improved and expanded space for the management of collections, as well as productive relationships with university spaces, such as the new Arts and Sciences building that will be located on the Danforth campus, west of Olin Library. Digital infrastructure includes not only more fulsome support for and management of digital collections but enhancement of associated services and better coordination with the university’s plans for digital transformation.  

“The Libraries objectives of upgrading and expanding our digital tools and enhancing digital services align well with the university’s Digital Transformation plans, and as we build the roadmap for our digital library development we need to keep that alignment in place,” said Mimi Calter, vice provost and university librarian.  

Collections in their many and varied formats remain central to the identity and mission of the Libraries and will continue to be the touchstone for most library services. The Libraries will continue to grow and expand services to support new types of collections and new methods of discovery, access, and preservation. At the same time, we must work together to ensure that collecting areas keep pace with the university’s expanding research program. 

Finally, collaboration as a strategic priority will mean working within the libraries, around the campus, and with colleagues and peer institutions.  Internally the Libraries will look to build a strong organizational culture. Campus-wide efforts will have the goal of establishing partnerships with departments and schools to support research and teaching goals. And building connections outside Washington University with peers and organizations regionally, nationally, and internationally will serve to raise the stature and reputation of the Libraries.  

Input and feedback are welcome during this transitional period as the learnings from both the 2019 plan and ongoing staff and faculty outreach are integrated into the strategic priorities. Libraries are shaping the future of research, learning, and teaching by embracing new strategic priorities in partnership with the bold and transformative vision of the university.