Blogging transitions, but continues!

I know from feedback from many colleagues, including those beyond the campus, that some do actually read my blog.  So, as leadership transition takes place at the University Library officially next week, this is the final blog from this Dean on this site.

I’ll be continuing to blog, so if you would like to transition with me, visit the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP) website, where my new blog Chronicles of a Practitioner-Researcher will be posted.  Thank you to C-EBLIP for giving me a professional space!

Best wishes to Incoming Interim Dean, Charlene Sorensen and her dedicated and talented senior team of Ken Ladd (Interim Assoicate Dean), Rachel Sarjeant-Jenkins (Assoicate Dean), Jill Mierke (Director, Library HR) and Dale Amerud (Director, Financial and Physical Resources).  Special mention and thanks to my Executive Assistant, Allyssa Anton, without whom I would never have started blogging in the first place!

It’s been an honour and a privilege to serve a decade as the Dean of the University Library at the University of Saskatchewan!

Cleaning house…

After a decade ‘in residence’ at the big office in Murray 156, I have been clearing and cleaning house recently as I prepare to head off for administrative leave at the end of my second term as Dean.  You would be amazed at what I found; or maybe not.  Old photographs of a much younger looking Dean, and things I brought with me back then, which I thought were essential, but that in most cases have not been used during the last 10 years.  Amongst the stuff are two hard-bound copies of my doctoral thesis, even though it’s been available electronically since submission. Then there is the mound of paper and records one accumulates after arriving in Canada as a landed immigrant, gaining permanent residence, and becoming a citizen.  Do I really need copies of my fingerprints?  Then there are the gems and the reminders of those little things that bring joy to the working life of a Dean.  For example, the funny card from a grateful colleague after surviving the rigors of a promotion application and/or the memento from one of my international visits and gift exchanges.  Do I really need to take that with me?   Probably not.  Memories on the other hand are personal and private and easy accessible, with or without a Wi-Fi connection!

The job is not yet finished, so I best get back to it.  Someone new moves to in the big office in Murray 156 next week.  Welcome Interim Dean, Charlene Sorensen.  Charlene, enjoy your office view of the Lesya Ukrainka Garden and the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre, and enjoy watching the snow falling during the winter.  I’ll be writing my new blog Chronicles of a Practitioner-Researcher, which soon will be accessible from the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP) website, and watching the Pacific Ocean views.


Another big week at the University Library

We seem to be celebrating many significant milestones recently, and this week, with Aboriginal Achievement Week upon us, is no exception.  It is a wonderful way to spend my last week as Dean. It is also a helpful distraction from having to pack up an office full of the last 10 years of my professional life.

As our contribution to Aboriginal Achievement Week, I am pleased that we have been able to bring Ry Moran, Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, to campus for a two-day visit.  Ry has a busy schedule of campus meetings, and on Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in Convocation Hall he will deliver this year’s University Library Dean’s Research Lecture.

Over the last 10 years, one of the library’s major strategic goals has been to intensify the research outcomes of librarians. Back in 2006 when I established the Dean’s Research Lecture, it was in part to help showcase library and information service professional practice and the value which librarians bring to The Academy.

A decade on, we are known as the most research intensive academic library in Canada (and some contend, in North America). Our Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP) is the first of its kind in Canada, and now well into its third year of operation as an approved university research centre.  Also one of a kind is our researcher-in-residence program, with Selinda Berg from the Library at the University of Windsor in residency for this academic year.  Among our 40 faculty, there are two librarians currently holding SSHRC grants, and nine librarians with active President SSHRC grants.  Publications, conference presentations, and other scholarly activities by our faculty continue to give our practitioner-researcher approach to the practice of professional skills in library and information service prominence.

So, it is an appropriate week to celebrate many things, and to look to the future and wonder what might be ahead for us all.

The falling Canadian dollar and the impact on research libraries

The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), of which the University Library is a member, is actively bringing to public attention the tough times currently being experienced by research libraries in universities.  Across the country, research libraries are individually and collectively experiencing severe budget pressures as a result of the weakening Canadian dollar combined with the extraordinarily high costs of international scholarly journals.

CARL members include Canada’s twenty-nine largest university libraries as well as Library and Archives Canada and NRC-Knowledge Management. Enhancing research and higher education are at the heart of its mission. CARL promotes effective and sustainable scholarly communication, and public policy that enables broad access to scholarly information.

Read CARL’s pain language communique about journals costs and the falling Canadian dollar here.

Public accountability… How do we measure up?

Since 2012, the University Library has published an Achievement Record, which includes key indicators from each of the library’s four core strategies in the University Library Strategic Plan. The 2016 Achievement Record is now available.  Do check it out!

The Achievement Record is an important part of the University Library Assessment Program which reflects progress toward the achievement of the library’s vision, mission, and core strategies in the University Library Strategic Plan, and demonstrates the library’s commitment to evidence-based decision making. A significant element of the Assessment Program is the development of performance indicators to track progress over time and to benchmark progress against peer institutions (e.g. U15 group of Canadian research universities). Where possible, data has been analyzed in the Achievement Record benchmarking University Library results to our U15 peer group.

During the recent library unit review, one of the external reviewers commented that the Achievement Record is “leading edge” work, and the fact that we make our data available publicly through our website is a first for any Association of Research Libraries (ARL) member institution. Thanks to our Assessment Analyst (Carisa Polischuk) for her leadership and ongoing development of the University Library Assessment Program and for helping us to further evolve and improve our strategic planning and evidenced-based decision making processes.

Australia Day, 2016

As that Men At Work song says, “I come from the land Downunder,” where on January 26 Australia Day is celebrated.  It’s sort of like Canada Day, traditionally marking the end of the long summer holidays, the end of the season of major summer sporting events (golf, cricket, the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, and the Australian Open tennis tournament, to name a few); and the start of a new school year. Officially, Australia Day, which is a national public holiday, marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the first fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales, and the raising of the flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip. For others, especially some Indigenous figures and their supporters, its more appropriately termed ’Invasion Day’.

On Australia Day this year, together with a number of library employees, I am continuing my participation in our learning and development program, Indigenous Voices – Library Edition.  This week’s session is our second seasonal teaching and an opportunity to review my Intercultural Development Inventory, Personal Development Plan. In doing so, I cannot help but reflect on the many similarities between my countries of citizenship (Australia and Canada), especially when it comes to matters related to our Aboriginal populations. While some things are local, it is surprising just how global some issues have become.

In an remarkable move for a Liberal government, ex-army chief David Morrison has been named the 2016 Australian of the Year.  Click here to listen to his moving commitment to advance the following issues during the coming year:

  • Gender equity
  • Diversity
  • Republicanism

Good on you, mate!

Leadership transition at the University Library

As the library unit review progresses (see my blog post of January 18, 2016) the university is also beginning an international search for the next Dean, University Library. After a decade in that role, my time as Dean is coming to a close, and I am taking a vacation ahead of commencing my administrative leave.

The Interim Provost (Dr. Ernie Barber) recently announced interim leadership roles that will cover the transition period commencing February 15, 2016 through until the appointment of the next Dean. Transition arrangements will see the following colleagues in senior library leadership roles:

  • Charlene Sorensen, Interim Dean
  • Ken Ladd – Interim Associate Dean
  • Rachel Sarjeant-Jenkins – Associate Dean
  • Jill Mierke – Director, Library Human Resources
  • Dale Amerud – Director, Library Financial and Physical Resources

It’s a big week at the University Library

Later this week, we welcome three external reviewers to the campus and the University Library for the library unit review.  Over the three-day site visit, reviewers will hold some 25 stakeholder meetings and interviews with groups internal to the library as well as with external campus and stakeholder representatives.  It is shaping up to be a very full schedule for the review team.

It has been over a decade since the library last underwent an external review, and that 2004 review led to some pretty big decisions being made by the university about its library.  Engagement with the review process, including the preparation of a self-assessment, has taken a lot of time and has involved many library employees.  Overall, it has been time and effort well spent, as the self-assessment provides a record of outcomes, achievements, and remaining challenges before the library as it continues work to transform its collections, facilities, services, and organizational culture.

The purpose of the review is to assess progress in meeting the vision, values, and strategic directions outlined in the University Library Strategic Plan; to assess the current state of library collections, facilities, services, and how they support the university’s mission with respect to teaching and learning, and research; and, to assess the library’s organizational culture and the efficiency and effectiveness of the library operations and organizational structures.  The review is also to identify any matters needing particular focus and resourcing – physical, financial, or human – in future planning cycles.

Thank you to everyone who is making time in their busy schedules to speak with the review team.  I appreciate it and I know the review panel will too.

Dean’s Award for Excellence

Nominations for the 2016 Dean’s Award for Excellence (individual and team categories) are now being accepted.  Nominations should be submitted electronically to Allyssa Anton, Executive Assistant to the Dean by close business on March 31, 2016.  Please use the subject line heading: Dean’s Award for Excellence Nomination.  For more details about the award(s) please visit:

A new year!

A new year presents an opportunity for new year resolutions, new approaches, and new ways of doing things.  To form new year resolutions we often reflect on the past.

In keeping with this theme, last year University Library employees prepared a self-assessment of library operations (collections, facilities, services, and our organizational culture) in preparation for a library review by a panel of external experts.

The members of the review team are all seasoned professionals who in their own right have already made many contributions to librarianship, nationally and internationally, and I am personally keen and interested to hear their assessment of the University Library. The members of the review team are:

Mr. Gerald Beasley – Vice-Provost and Chief Librarian, University of Alberta
Gerald Beasley was appointed Vice-Provost and Chief Librarian on July 1, 2013. His previous library experience includes leadership positions at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal; the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York; and Concordia University, Montreal. He has also worked at the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine in London, England. He is currently President of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (2013-2015).  Mr. Beasley’s academic qualifications are: M.A. English Language and Literature, Oxford University; M.A. Library Studies, University College London.

Ms. Joyce Garnett – University Librarian Emeritus, Western University
Joyce Garnett is university librarian emeritus at Western University in London, Ontario, and recently served as Interim Dean of the University Library for Iowa State University. Ms. Garnett has 40 years of experience as a librarian, including 33 years teaching, and 34 years in leadership positions both at universities and in the private sector.  Ms. Garnett’s academic qualifications are: M.L.S. McGill University; B.Sc. McGill University.

Dr. Elliot Shore – Executive Director of the Association of Research Libraries Elliott Shore has served as the Executive Director of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) since January 2013. From 1997 to 2012, Dr. Shore served as the Constance A. Jones Director of Libraries, and professor of history at Bryn Mawr College. Dr. Shore speaks and publishes widely, most recently with a focus on the future of research libraries and the need for coherence at scale in higher education.  Dr. Shore’s academic qualifications are: PhD History, Bryn Mawr College; M.S. Library Science, Drexel University; M.A. International History, London School of Economics and Political Science;  B.A. History, Temple University.

The three external reviewers will also joined by internal reviewer:

Dr. Jay Wilson – College of Education, University of Saskatchewan
Jay Wilson is an Associate Professor and Department Head & Graduate Coordinator of Curriculum Studies with the College of Education. Dr. Wilson is also currently the chair of the Teaching, Learning, and Academic Resources Committee of University Council.  Dr. Wilson’s academic qualification are: Ed.D., University of Southern Queensland; M.Ed. Educational Communications and Technology, University of Saskatchewan; B.Ed. Elementary Education, University of Saskatchewan;  B.A. History, University of Saskatchewan.