Hello again from Paris!

Coming to you again from Paris, where discussions about the role of a library dean/director are continuing.

There is a short reference in the U of S dean’s job profile that stays the following: The Dean functions in a highly demanding environment that requires constant scanning for issues and challenges against multiple priorities and demands on limited resources. The work is of high volume and is complex. Decisions ranging from the mundane to critical are required on a routine basis.

I was reminded of this wonderfully accurate description today as I listened to colleagues from various countries talk about their context, their leadership role, and their many challenges as senior library leaders, both at the library and institutional level.  What struck me were the many common themes and shared issues.  However, the take away lesson from today is its all about context, especially the value your home institution places on library collections, facilities, services, and expertise.  How inclusive is your institution to engaging the library’s input to strategic directions?  As a dean/director are you at the “right tables for those strategic discussions”. I listened carefully today to the various dimensions of the conversation and I’m sure I will hear more input tomorrow to reflect upon.

The context of North America is clearly very different from that of Europe. Perhaps the most interesting conversation of the day was with an Australian colleague whose overview of current in-country trends only served to remind me that librarianship is really a global profession, from time-to-time influenced by local context, but that solutions developed in response to such contexts truly do have global implications!

Springtime in Paris really is a wonderful experience!

What’s happening in Paris this week?

Coming to you today from Paris, FR where I am participating in LIBER Journées at Sciences Po, a new leadership seminar for deans/directors of research libraries. Seventeen men and women from Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Bulgaria, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Montenegro, Germany, England, United States of America, Spain, France, and Finland, are gathered together in Paris to learn from one another. I am one of three Association of Research Libraries (ARL) deans/directors present at the seminar, along with Barbara Dewey (Penn State) as a participant, and MacKenzie Smith (California, Davis) who will be the concluding keynote speaker.

The purpose of the LIBER Journées at Sciences Po is to bring library deans/directors together with eminent speakers worldwide. The underpinning theme of the seminar is: Reshaping the library and the role of the dean/director in leading library services and provision in rapidly changing digital, educational and research environments and within a developing trend towards shared – and even outsourced – services.

Three strategic themes shape the content of the seminar:

  • University Library within the University: Positioning
  • Academic Research and the Role of the Library
  • Leadership

For more information about LIBER Journées at Sciences Po, click here.

Stay tuned for another update from Paris later this week.

What’s happening in Toronto this week?

Coming to you from Toronto, ON where I am attending the Annual General Meeting of Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) deans/directors. CARL members comprise library leaders from Canada’s 29 largest universities and two federal institutions.

So what’s on the agenda for CARL deans/directors? The deans/directors meeting kicks off on Wednesday with Canadian library educators joining deans/directors for a half-day focussed conversation on the CARL Workforce: Human Resources in CARL Libraries. I am looking forward to leading the half-day of discussions, which will draw heavily on data and research results from the recently completed 8Rs Redux Study. An overview of that research was recently published in by the Canadian Library Association. Click here to learn more.

Thursday’s program includes a session on the Ithaka S+R Faculty Survey, and an afternoon tour of the recently opened Student Learning Centre at Ryerson University. I am especially interested to visit this facility at a time when we are continuing our thinking and planning for the next stage of the capital development of our library system, through the University Library Transformation Project, Phase III.

Friday moves deans/directors to a focussed discussion about the long-term access to government information in a digital age. The long-term preservation of digital government information was recently raised as a concern in reports from a Royal Society of Canada expert panel; the Auditor-General of Canada, and, a Canadian Council of Academies expert panel. The key note speaker to help set the scene for deans/directors is Dr. Janice Stein, from Toronto University, who will be speaking on the topic of: ‘Preserving government information in a digital age: the Canadian perspective.

Visit the CARL website for more information.

CLA/OCLC Award for Innovative Technology

Last week, the Canadian Government Information Digital Preservation Network (CGI DPN), which includes the University Library, was named the 2015 recipient of the CLA/OCLC Award for Innovative Technology.

The Canadian Government Information Digital Preservation Network is a project initiated in October 2012 by library staff at eleven member institutions: University of Alberta, Simon Fraser University, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of Saskatchewan, University of Victoria, McGill University, Dalhousie University, Scholars Portal, University of Toronto, and Stanford University. The mission of the CGI DPN is to preserve digital collections of government information, ensuring the long-term viability of digital materials through geographically dispersed servers, protective measures against data loss, and forward format migration.

Through the innovative application of LOCKSS and Archive-it technology, the Network has established a geographically distributed infrastructure to preserve government information in a secure environment, helping to ensure access to critical digital content in the future. The CGI DPN’s collaborative approach to acquiring and preserving digital content is both cost effective and efficient. The Network is an important example of librarians as proactive stewards in the realm of digital content.

The CLA/OCLC Award for Innovative Technology is presented annually to honour a member or members of CLA for innovative use and application of technology in a Canadian library setting. The award will be presented at the opening ceremonies on Thursday, June 4, 2015 at the CLA Conference and Trade Show in Ottawa Ontario. The Canadian Library Association/Association canadienne des bibliotheques is Canada’s largest national and broad-based library association, representing the interest of public, academic, school and special libraries, professional librarians, library technicians, library workers, and all those concerned with enhancing the quality of life of Canadians through information and literacy.

Congratulations to everyone involved!

Student Learning Services at the University Library

Today marks an important milestone as we celebrate the beginning of Student Learning Services at the University Library.

The initiative to establish Student Learning Services at the University Library has unfolded in an exceptionally positive way and I am very pleased to report that today nine employees have joined the University Library employee complement.

This initiative is an opportunity to improve and diversify student programs and further enhance the student experience. I am very excited to welcome our new colleagues to the University Library, and I very much look forward to working together to support our diverse student body.


A question of balance

Coming to you this week from San Francisco, where together with Deans/Directors from the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), I am attending the 166th ARL Membership Meeting.

ARL is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries at comprehensive, research institutions in the US and Canada that share similar research missions, aspirations, and achievements.

There is a lot of talk these days about work and life balance, but there is another sort of balance that is inherent in the role of a Dean.  It’s the balance between matters of leadership internal to the college (the library) and external matters that require time and focus to build strategic partnerships and relationships.   I always regard time spent with ARL colleagues to be time well invested; but I am mindful that it is also time away from the library and the campus.

This ARL meeting marks the transition to a new strategic direction and ways of work for ARL. I’m especially interested in ARLs move to establish the ARL Academy and an Innovation Lab, while continuing the association’s focus on more traditional topics including collaborative collections; the scholarly dissemination engine; and libraries that learn. There is an opportunity in the program to visit the library at UC Berkeley to view their collections, facilities, and services.  This is an opportunity I welcome as we plan for the local transformation of the library system.  Finally, there’s the potential to see spring flowers, see and smell the bay and the ocean, and feel the warmth of the Californian sunshine.  After the weather in Saskatoon over the last weekend, sunshine sounds just fine!

From the Windy City of Chicago

Coming to you today from the Windy City of Chicago, where I am fulfilling commitments as a member of the American Library Association (ALA) Committee on Accreditation.

The Committee’s charge is to be responsible for the execution of the accreditation program of ALA, and to develop and formulate standards of education for library and information studies for the approval of council.

To catch up on the latest work of the Committee on Accreditation, check out our newsletter, Prism, here.

Going to the dogs?

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity indulge in a little puppy play time and had a nice visit with Kisbey, Subie, and Murphy, three of the registered therapy dogs who were visiting the Murray Library. It was a real treat!

This was the third time the U of S has hosted therapy dogs on campus, and with students lining up to say hello to our furry friends, I am sure it won’t be the last.

For more information about this initiative and others happening on campus during final exam season, visit: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/university-of-saskatchewan-students-pampered-during-exam-season-1.3032577IMG_0613


Identifying and avoiding predatory publishers: a primer for researchers

The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) has pooled their expertise to help researchers identify predatory publishers.  Check out the recently released guide at: http://www.carl-abrc.ca/uploads/SCC/predatory_pubs_primer-e.pdf 

29 major academic research libraries across Canada, together with Library and Archives Canada, and the Canadian Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI) make up the membership of CARL.  CARL strives to enhance the capacity of member libraries to partner in research and higher education; it seeks effective and sustainable scholarly communication and public policy that encourages research and broad access to scholarly information.

Libraries are changing!

The appearance of therapy dogs in campus libraries, as part of the University’s Stress Less During Exams activities, is yet another sign that libraries are changing!  Collections, facilities, and services are more responsive to student learning needs and we are working much more in partnership with others across campus to ensure a positive learning experience.

The University Library has partnered with the U of S Research Chair in Substance Abuse and St. John’s Ambulance to bring trained and certified therapy dogs to the library. For more information on when the dogs will be visiting the library, visit: http://library.usask.ca

This initiative is one of many being offered through in conjunction with the Take a Break at the University Library Program throughout the final exam period. There will be Play-Doh, crafts, puzzles, LEGO, board games, music, and more available for students to relax and have fun with. The library branches hosting the Take a Break spaces are the Murray Library, the Leslie & Irene Dubé Health Sciences Library, the Engineering Library, the Education & Music Library, and the Science Library.

All of the seven libraries on campus will also be giving out snacks, generously donated by the Alumni Association.

Please continue to engage, enlighten, and explore at your library!