Section II: Environmental Scan

Under a new director, Alumnae Library is in a state of transition. During the next year, the director will first and foremost determine and strengthen the foundations that have already been established and prove successful. At the first meeting with the new director, library staff members reviewed the current status of the library and created a "wish list" for the library's future. The most commonly identified wish was better communication with the director, as well as inclusion in the process of planning for the future, especially via regularly held meetings. Both library staff and the director agreed to create a mechanism for communication, both within the library and between the library and Elms community, the latter being addressed by a much needed liaison program.

All were in agreement that reliable, consistent, and effective communication with faculty, administration, staff, students, and the surrounding community is essential, particularly when it comes to library resources and services. Only in this way can the library engage the Elms community, so as to establish a role as the resource center for academic life on campus. Recent reductions to the library's budget, combined with annual cost increases for products, have resulted in a decrease in resources and a reduction in new acquisitions. While this underfunding affects the library's ability to achieve its mission, some academic units act on their own to purchase new information resources. Dealing with the resulting fragmentation of information services will be a challenge to the library in the near future.

Beginning in 2011, the library started the process of examining the collection for digital and/or physical duplication. In addition, it began identifying resources that may no longer be needed due to a lack of currency or lack of use. Library staff saw this as the first step in aiding patrons, especially students, more easily discover resources that would be more relevant to their research needs. Combined with database management and Information Literacy education, this practice offers patrons the best chances to find resources. Rather than prioritize ease of use, library staff decided it would better serve students to prioritize efficiency of process or methodology when it came to research, balancing the library's roles of providing information via its print, multimedia, and electronic resources, and fostering research mechanisms that allow for success, with ease of use being a secondary concern, although it was likely to become a by-product.

Elms College is experiencing a space shortage for classrooms and offices, and all campus facilities are being examined for alternate uses. The library is no exception, especially during the summer of 2013, when Berchmans Hall will be under renovation. The library staff is already involved in long-range planning to explore renovation towards the development of better learning environments, such as a Learning Commons or Student Success Center, entities whose functions reinforce the library's role in teaching and learning.

One of the projects the library is investigating is the creation of a centralized Information Desk, which will combine the public services functions of Circulation and Reference. Located on the library's main level, it will provide a central service point for library and related technology services, thereby simplifying the use of library resources. The preferred physical redesign of Circulation and Reference into one Information Desk is one that would restructure the area to provide an open structure, with no barriers between the two functions. This will allow for more continuous communication between the service points at the desk.