Message from the Interim Dean

Hello! I’m writing from my first full week as Interim Dean, much of which was spent traveling and serendipitously attending a conference that helped me solidify some of the ideas I’ll share here.  This year’s Association of College & Research Libraries Librarian of the Year, Dean David Lewis retired from University Library leaving a strong, forward-thinking, plan for moving academic libraries generally, but IUPUI University Library specifically forward, supporting the research and learning needs of all our valued constituents.  I will spend my time as Interim Dean furthering our mission to Inform, Transform, and Connect, bringing a fresh lens through which to meet this critical mission and building on the Emeritus Dean David Lewis-established keystone of academic libraries leading in open access and change in scholarly communication.  Lewis’s vision, carried out by driven library employees, propelled IUPUI faculty to the forefront of necessary change in scholarly communication.  This important work will continue and we will also turn our eye to ensuring students understand how they too can benefit from participating in the rich ecosystem of creating and utilizing open access scholarship. 


One goal for this year is to highlight our already robust student-facing services and deliberately connect that student focus with digital scholarship and open access.  We’ve paved a path with a long-established programs: Digitally distributing student theses and dissertation (over 2,000 now online), Teaching information literacy skills that speak to the research life cycle and student participation in it, and Publishing student run open access journals such as the Indiana Health Law Review. School of Public and Environmental Health and Kelley School of Business Librarian, Justin Kani recently added Open Educational Resources Liaison to his portfolio of work.  In this role Kani will develop a program that supports the development and implementation of teaching resources (ex. textbooks) that are made freely available to students.  From Scholarly Communications Librarian Jere Odell, “In the 2016/2017 academic year, IUPUI’s 21,748 undergraduates paid an average of $1,204.00 for books and supplies. That’s an annual investment of $26 million by students and families on course materials.”  University Library has the opportunity to play a pivotal role in supporting faculty in developing quality instructional resources that save our students significant money.


Another student focused goal I have for this year is to be more strategic in providing quality, professional level, mentored learning experiences through our student employment opportunities.  I want us to become the premier student employment opportunity on campus. We have a long history of students working in a variety of roles within the Library from shelving and checking out books to digitization, organization of archival collections, and technology support.  Our goal is to standardize the high quality of these experiences, to ensure that every student employee gains not just a convenient on-campus job but a professional-level experience that stands out on their resumes.  


University Library will continue to emphatically embrace IUPUI’s community-engaged mission. Community Outreach Librarian Jennifer Johnson and Digitization Specialists, Anna Proctor, Lucy Williams, and Shelanda Graham worked collaborative with the Children’s Museum to highlight the legacy of Ryan White through the digitization of his correspondence with children around the world.  Archivist Angela White and Archives Specialist Greg Mobley met with representatives of the Wheeler Mission, providing historic materials and information in preparation for celebrating their 125thanniversary.  Data Services Librarian, Heather Coates gathered analytics methods that demonstrate the impact of civically engaged scholarship as part of the IUPUI Public Scholarship Faculty Learning Community.  All our employees regularly serve community users be it assisting a fledgling new business owner interested industry research, a geneaologist wanting help navigating our extensive online history resources, or a high school class on a field to dig their toes in college level research.  We take our connection to the community seriously, embracing the call of higher education to support an informed citizenry.


Data-driven decision-making models will be at our core, building on the good work of existing strategies.  An example: Community Outreach Librarian Willie Miller’s 6-year strong “I Heart UL” guerrilla assessment program, collects quick notes from library users sharing praise and suggesting change.  This data driven assessment informs annual improvements to services and most recently shaped the significant space renovation of the 3rdand 4thfloors.  The effectiveness of I Heart UL was recognized with the Power of Libraries Award at this year’s Customers of SyrsiDynix User Group annual conference.  Educational Development Librarian Sara Lowe is presently leading a mass evaluation of student papers, measuring the impact of librarian-led information literacy instruction on the quality of student research.  The outcomes of this work will inform the classroom practice of IUPUI librarians.  


Data will drive adjustment of our collection purchasing models. We will assertively continue implementation of a strategic move towards purchasing materials on demand as well as grow collections that are unique to IUPUI history, Indianapolis, and our internationally recognized expertise areas such as philanthropic studies and artist books. We take our role as steward of research resources crucial to faculty, staff, and student success, seriously.  We want to continue our long-established record of providing the highest quality service and research resources while responsibly balancing our budget.  As such we regularly seek purchasing methods that combat the unstainable rise of for profit publishers while still providing access to the research required by all campus citizens.  Using regular assessment methods, we will ensure our purchase on demand model maintains both a quality of service and balanced budget.


Finally, I want to focus inwardly, ensure that we attract and retain forward-thinking, diverse employees.  I want our current employees to navigate this interim year with ease and gusto. I’ve been with University Library for 17 years, as a student employee, staff member, newly-minted faculty navigating the tenure process, team manager, and now proudly find myself with the opportunity to lead as Interim Dean.  I have witnessed the dedication, drive, and ingenuity of so many.  As student learning and faculty research methods alter, so too must libraries and library employees shift to continue our highest quality of service.  Acquisitions Staff Member, Jennifer James, recognized this shift sought out a training opportunity to increase her technology skills. She has become the most knowledgeable Python programmer in University Library.  She will use her new skills to support Digital Humanities work within the Center for Digital Scholarship.  We will identify other skill development areas and support staff in becoming uniquely qualified for new and necessary work. 


Transitional times, particularly those after a long-term, highly-lauded leader, can result in consternation, stagnation.  As is our tradition University Library will break that mold, continue to thrive, and innovatively lead as a 21stcentury library.


With excitement about our future,


Interim Dean IUPUI Univeristy Library 

Updated Nov 09, 2018 by Webmaster