Section I: Introduction
Alumnae Library is uniquely positioned to bridge the past and the future. We have in our Special Collections items which date back to the 1600s, perhaps even later, as well as hundreds of rare books, manuscripts, portraits, photos, and other realia; on a local level, our Archives contains documents dating back to the inception of Elms College in the 1920s, some of them originals. Simultaneously, Alumnae Library looks to the future. Like many contemporary academic libraries, it responds to major technological, socio-political, and psychological forces. It is well positioned to face the challenges of an accelerated rate of change (preparing students to meet the challenges of technology, professions, and in some cases even jobs-that don't even exist yet), a diffuse information economy, an ever-constricting financial resource base, an ever-growing focus on teaching and learning, a culture of assessment, and a need for seamlessness between the products and processes associated with scholarship and creative expression.
Acquiring knowledge and making it available is the primary mission of any library. Moreover, either facilitating or partnering in teaching and learning is the raison d'etre of the modern academic library. As we move into the next decade, the library will become more virtual, delivering content as it has historically, while responding to the need to have that content personalized for faculty, students, administration, and the larger Elms community. As our patron base grows to include global researchers, our partnerships will also have to grow: with Information technology (IT), with institutional administration, with consortial entities, and with peer institutions.
Prior to the mass availability of digitized electronic resources and consortial resource sharing, an academic library was evaluated mainly on the sheer number of volumes and/or items in its collections. For the modern academic library, the number of items which reside physically within its four walls is less relevant; the resources available through the database subscriptions, open access journals, and more reputable free sites on the Internet make the smallest academic library seem like a giant, compared to the even the largest library prior to the 21st Century.
Thus, it is the diversity of programming that supports active learning that determines the effectiveness of the modern academic library. Such evolution is crucial to a library that supports higher education, as administrators tasked with finding ways of running their institutions during times of austerity are reevaluating their libraries. This means that the new Library Director must be well-versed in creating formal methods of communicating with and to administrators, in fact to with and to all stakeholders, exactly what his/her library does that is essential to the mission of the institution. This of course involves allowing for those stakeholders to "buy in" to the future plans of the library, to be part of a meaningful dialogue pertaining to the library's priorities.
This Strategic Plan is a response to this new vision. In conjunction with all library staff, it was prepared by the director, not only to serve as an end product in itself, but also to serve as an invitation to the Elms community to help shape the future of Alumnae Library. This plan is both a result of the concerns, issues, and wishes of library staff which lead to its various Action Plans, and a vision statement which informs or outlines the various visions represented in the projects that the library has identified as worthy of embarking upon.
In essence, the Strategic Plan sets the standards by which each Action Plan will be assessed and evaluated. Individual projects are manifestations of the library's vision as set forth in this plan, and both those projects and the needs they address will change as
Technological innovations and the needs of the curriculum evolve. To that end, this plan addresses not only the coming year, but future years as well. Therefore, no time period is prescribed for any project's lifespan; each Action Plan will be assessed in the Alumnae Library Annual Report, beginning in 2013. Each project will be modified so that it can be more successful in the following year.