Strategic Directions

Columbia University Libraries embarked on its Strategic Directions process to benefit from the ideas and enthusiasm of key stakeholders and staff and to provide guidance for the Libraries' decision-making, resource allocation, and partnerships for the next five years.  The resulting directions, which articulate a bold and expansive agenda for the Libraries, are guided by input from the Provost, faculty, and students and are closely aligned with University priorities.

By listening, thinking, and planning together, our Strategic Directions inspire us to raise the expectations we have for ourselves, guide the aspirations we have to advance research and knowledge at an even higher level, and invigorate the hopes we have for the positive difference we can make in the world.

We hope the directions motivate you to collaborate with us and lend your support to our ambitions for the Libraries' future.

Challenge the organization to enable a thriving, inclusive community by embedding support and welcome for all identities and cultural experiences in our efforts, conversations, and actions.

Columbia University Libraries is committed to doing the work of diversity and inclusion – including the continual unlearning of inherent biases – acting on increased insights in culturally appropriate ways to facilitate learning and professional growth and to foster a variety of perspectives and ideas to address complex challenges.  The University benefits from broad perspectives and depths of insight derived from working collaboratively with individuals from other disciplines or professions, of different ages, cultures, identities, abilities, economic backgrounds, beliefs, and values.

2018 - 2019 Accomplishments

  • With support from University Office of Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action, implemented required training on unconscious bias for all Libraries staff
  • Implemented required training by EOAA for all search committees

2017 - 2018 Accomplishments

  • Evaluated the Libraries' standing among peers in workforce diversity as well as perceptions of diversity and inclusion issues
  • Established framework, charge, and priorities for Libraries' Diversity and Inclusion Committee
  • With support from University Office of Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action, developed required training for all library leadership on unconscious bias

Build, steward, and leverage collections distinguished by scope, quality, and scale to inform memory and enhance scholarship.

As a foundation for supporting research and teaching, Columbia's collections are central to the University's intellectual distinction and highest ambitions. The Libraries build, shape, sustain, and make discoverable collections that transcend traditional boundaries of format and domain, offer enduring research value, and support the intellectual curiosity of Columbia faculty and students. We secure unique, vulnerable, and evanescent materials through diligent curation and stewardship of works in print, digital, and media formats. We work to preserve our shared heritage in the face of format degradation and digital impermanence. By working inter-institutionally, we acquire, manage, and provide persistent access to millions of collection materials – products of the past and those of current scholarship – creating the greatest opportunities for scholars and students to encounter global thought.

2018 - 2019 Accomplishments

  • Digitally preserved more than 4,000 oral history recordings as well as more than 7,000 other unique audio and moving-image collection items
  • Completed a multi-year grant project funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, enabling new ways of discovering and accessing digital and digitized content from the collections
  • Implemented procedures whereby all newly-acquired collections, whether through gift or purchase, receive collection-level records that are published upon accession
  • Enacted a policy to allow unprocessed collections to be made available for researchers, with the exception of restricted portions
  • With the endorsement of the Provost's Advisory Committee on the Libraries, established a new Collection Strategies & Policies framework

2017 - 2018 Accomplishments

  • Launched a multi-year project to digitally preserve and make accessible 77,000 unique audio and moving image collections on deteriorating analog media formats
  • Added seven million items to the CLIO catalog for direct borrowing from Princeton and the New York Public Library
  • Prioritized the "unhiding" of thousands of collections in the Libraries' backlogs, making them discoverable online and usable for research and learning
  • Revealed an additional 700 archival collections through the implementation of new metadata standards and supporting technology

Engage with students to explore broadly, discover deeply, and participate meaningfully in a global, diverse society.

In a dynamic and rapidly evolving information environment, Columbia’s students have an ever greater responsibility to understand the complexities of information, data, and scholarship and to use them ethically and effectively. The Libraries, at the intellectual heart of the University, support students as explorers, with the journey as rewarding as the results of each learning and research experience. We extend student learning by developing their literacy skills – cultural, textual, and visual – and through this process, inspiring an authentic and purposeful world view.

2018 - 2019 Accomplishments

  • In collaboration with the Center for Teaching and Learning, provided instructional services and research support aligned with student needs and the recently-adopted thirteen Core Competencies of Columbia College
  • Launched customized training programs to develop students as researchers-in-training with a focus on the ethical construction of knowledge and new modes of inquiry
  • Supported graduate student internships to develop students' understanding of scholarly processes and provide experiences in emerging areas of scholarship

2017 - 2018 Accomplishments

  • Evaluated existing outreach, workshops, events, and related services for students, with a focus on skill development
  • Established a framework, charge, and priorities for enhancing and expanding upon current student engagement activities throughout the Libraries

Cultivate a campus research environment that generates a wellspring of expertise, accelerates the production of new knowledge, and amplifies research outcomes.

As vital collaborators in Columbia’s research ecosystem, we work with our academic colleagues to instigate new inquiry and support evolving investigations. The Libraries build dynamic information systems that enable our scholars to create, preserve and disseminate their research in the most nimble, open and broad-scale ways.

Through our technical infrastructure, outreach efforts, and deep subject expertise, we integrate a libraries-wide network of research support services and programs into project collaborations. We marshal a unique array of human and information resources to enrich research processes, nourish creativity, and further understanding of our complex multi-disciplinary world. We pursue responsibility for multi-stream data identification and management.  We develop strategies and champion initiatives that expand access to Columbia scholars’ research outputs to the broadest possible global audience.

2018 - 2019 Accomplishments

  • With the Office of Research, Columbia University Information Technology, the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, introduced a new Foundations for Research Computing training program to increase the computational skill sets of graduate students
  • With the Provost's Advisory Committee on the Libraries, conducted a survey of faculty, researchers, and graduate students to better understand current practices involving research data, assess campus need for data management services, and identify potential gaps in existing services

2017 - 2018 Accomplishments

  • Conducted an assessment of digital scholarship activities throughout the Libraries to better address the needs of students, faculty, and researchers
  • With faculty advisers, examined the need for a central Libraries space to provide access to specialized hardware, software, expertise, and training for the University community, enabling interdisciplinary digital projects and partnerships

Lead with knowledge, forge a bold, ambitious agenda, and pursue strategic innovations that accelerate library performance in partnership with a collaborative community of practice.

Working with a worldwide community of partners, the Libraries invest expertise and effort to support high-impact development in areas of common need and concern. Consciously global in our thinking, provoking and providing leadership in areas critical to the success of libraries and information systems, we challenge our partners to commit to an ambitious agenda that applies our collective advances to a common good. Building on our distinguished history of library practice, we bring to bear our knowledge and experience to imagine and engage in scalable systems of collective collecting, pursue maximum connectivity through advanced metadata development, double-down our focus on shared enabling technologies, and promote open scholarly communication in policy, strategy, infrastructure, and community action.

2018 - 2019 Accomplishments

  • With partners in the Research Collections and Preservation consortium (ReCAP) and with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, pursued shared collection and preservation approaches that form the basis of collaborative collection development for new acquisitions
  • With the thirteen members of the Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation, planned improvements to collections discovery and access across institutions

2017 - 2018 Accomplishments

  • With partners in the Research Collections and Preservation consortium (ReCAP), launched a project to enhance ability to build and manage a Shared Collection
  • With faculty advisers, determined opportunities to engage faculty and researchers in innovative, cooperative Libraries practices around collection development
  • Led the formation of a more strategically-focused and results-oriented Ivy Plus Libraries partnership to advance collaborative collecting, resource sharing, and scholarly communications across 13 institutions

Support individual agency and create structures that allow staff to act nimbly, provoke change, and assert our roles in substantive academic endeavor.

Across our vibrant organization, staff seek to work more closely together and to set in motion a change process that enables a culture of experimentation, in balance with the high-trust suite of services our constituencies depend on. We foster a more agile, laboratory-like practice that encourages creativity and innovation, provides opportunity for staff development, reduces barriers and streamlines processes that make our library work with more speed and efficiency. We find and value within ourselves a breadth and depth of diverse expertise positioned to connect the seemingly unconnected. Our unique skills and knowledge substantially contribute to the heart and core of the University’s success in fulfilling its mission.

2018 - 2019 Accomplishments

  • Shared results of the Fall 2018 Employee Engagement Survey with all staff and developed a set of action items focused on operating transparently, timeliness of execution, and two-way communication
  • Increased support for Libraries-funded travel for all officers and created a more inclusive policy for staff at all levels to receive travel support

2017 - 2018 Accomplishments

  • Created a regular communications forum for information-sharing about organizational changes and projects
  • Established a baseline assessment of participation in staff development activities
  • Launched an employee engagement survey to measure staff perceptions about their work environment
  • Streamlined the process for staff to establish new vendors and procure library materials for users