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Strategic Plan Update: Assessing Our Partnerships

We’re happy to announce that we’ve fulfilled a number of the objectives that were laid out in our Strategic Plan. Teams of staff members from across the University Libraries have worked together to bring the objectives to fruition. We’ll be sharing updates of our progress in the weeks ahead.

Objective accomplished: Pursue strategic partnerships on campus and in the community; inventory and assess current collaborations, and conduct outreach to ensure that these efforts align with the University Libraries’ goals.

The objective focused on assessment tools—on developing a comprehensive inventory of current and recent partnerships and performing a gap analysis of the inventory. More effective definitions of the terms “partnership” and “collaboration” were established as follows.

Partnership: A relationship of two or more parties with mutual benefits, a clearly defined scope, and mutually agreed-upon objectives. The relationship provides value not otherwise easily attainable without partnering. Partners may engage in multiple collaborations.

Collaboration: A one-time or brief effort that may or may not become a partnership.

Following internal outreach, the strategic plan team conducted an inventory of current and recent partnerships, with two separate categories: completed projects and ongoing projects. The inventory revealed that most of the University Libraries’ partnerships are concentrated in Arts & Sciences and the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and heavily weighted toward the humanities. Additionally, a significant number of partnerships exist with interdisciplinary centers on campus, such as the Academy for Diversity and Inclusion.

Observations: By assessing the inventory using the definitions for partnership and collaboration, it was discovered that most of the identified partnerships are actually collaborations. Many are one-off projects.

Using the new assessment tools helps define which projects are partnerships. Having these tools can also help ensure that each partnership has a more clearly defined scope, as well as timelines and mutual benefits. This leads to more effective partnerships.

Opportunities for growth: There appears to be significant opportunity for the University Libraries to develop more formal partnerships with other departments and schools on campus, as well as student organizations and community groups.