(This brief essay is adapted from Martin Halbert's self-evaluation submitted as part of his annual performance evaluation.)
Prospective Plan for 6/1/10 – 5/30/11 Period
My prospective plan for the next twelve months focuses on the summary library goals in the UNT Strategic Research Plan and the concomitant goals elaborated in more detail in library strategic planning documents. Many of the following goal statements draw on the objectives I have set forth in a variety of planning documents within the past six months.
Creative Partnerships and Collaborative Research Projects
The collaborative research partnerships that I have discussed with UNT scholars should begin to manifest in project proposals and new joint endeavors within the next twelve month period. My ambition beginning in the next year is to lead the creation of nationally recognized programs in digital scholarship based on collaboration between researchers, librarians, and external communities. This ambition is achievable, given that this programmatic area builds on a decade of steady successes in the area of digital library projects at UNT, which has attracted an average of more than $500K annually and attracted national recognition for the UNT Libraries as an innovator in scholarly communication. I plan to make further investments to build up the capabilities of the UNT Libraries to attract more restricted research funding. One of my goals beginning next year is to enable librarians to obtain an average of $1M annually in restricted research funding over the next five year period for digital scholarship projects in collaborative partnerships between the faculty and the library. To accomplish this goal the libraries will establish a new Digital Information and Scholarship Center (DISC) charged with systematically seeking collaborative funding for programs aligned with the campus strategic goals of acquiring restricted research funding and increasing the production of doctorates. The DISC will further raise the profile of UNT as an innovator in digital scholarship and research services, bolstering our ARL candidacy in the process. Faculty, scholarly societies such as the TSHA, and the UNT Press will be key partners in this collaborative center.
Library Master Space Plan and Interim Measures
The Library Master Space Planning Effort should begin in the Fall 2010 semester and conclude sometime in the Spring 2011 semester. In cooperation with campus facilities planners, I will seek out a nationally recognized architectural leader in university library assessment and development to provide a comprehensive review and analysis of the existing UNT Library facilities, related infrastructure, systems, building codes, programs, and services. The architectural firm will work with students, faculty, and staff on the University of North Texas campus to establish a need based program that will result in the development of a comprehensive twenty year Master Plan. Given the complex nature of the facilities and the array of programs and services offered I believe it is critical that the firm selected demonstrate a solid understanding of university libraries and have the necessary skills and resources to address the diverse mix of services, programs and infrastructural challenges that this project will present. At a minimum the Master Plan for the Libraries will consist of the following:
- A description and current state assessment of the Libraries’ buildings and spaces, both architecture and engineering;
- An outline of the Libraries mission, vision, and goals developed from interviews with librarians and other stakeholders, including an account of how they align with the University’s vision and mission;
- A program statement describing the Libraries’ plan and projections for growth, expansion, and transformation of resources and services in response to the changing needs of the University community;
- An extended analysis of the square foot deficits and gaps between the libraries’ projected facility needs and its current state, including utility infrastructure, codes, and regulations, and program support;
- A recommended sequence of intervention, renovation, and construction to incrementally develop library facilities to support the needs of the campus and the academic community, and move the UNT Libraries toward realization of its long-term vision.
This Master Plan will inform our subsequent planning efforts with the campus and system, enabling me to begin the long process of making a case for new library renovation and/or construction. I harbor no illusions that this will be a quick or painless process, but the libraries are now in a major space deficit precisely because previous library administrations did not pursue this long and arduous task in an appropriate timeframe. I will begin the process of correcting this; there is no other option for library operations long term.
While my hope is that this Master Plan will lead to adequate or even high quality library facilities in a 10-20 timeframe, there is also the library space crisis that exists today. I can see no other option than temporary leasing of facilities to meet these critical exigencies. I will therefore seek to lease at least a facility for library operations within the next few months to house and process our growing collections and collaborative service programs.
Bringing the UNT library facilities up to top tier research institution standards within the next five years by some combination of strategies will be critical in order to provide space for collaborative library research activities with faculty partners, as well as adequate additional collections storage and processing facilities to accommodate growth in research collections. The libraries will likely have to fund these facilities improvements using existing budget streams, working with relevant university planners to address immediate facilities needs and develop a long-term library master plan aligned with campus strategic priorities.
Collection Management Program Build-out
I will initiate a dramatic enhancement of the library collection development and management program. This enhancement is essential to bring the monographic and serial collections of the library up to the comprehensive ARL standards needed for top tier research activities. The collection development program will include a thorough gap analysis of UNT collections as referenced against the holdings of aspirational peer institutions. This analysis will identify priorities in monograph and serials acquisitions to guide collection development investments, remediate gaps in the holdings of the UNT libraries, and ensure alignment with ARL candidacy requirements.
In order to accomplish this enhancement, I will be seeking to recruit externally for an Assistant Dean for Collection Management to provide operational leadership for our efforts. I believe that we need a fresh perspective and experience from other ARL libraries to successfully build up our research collections. Such positions are notoriously difficult to recruit for, but I believe that the UNT Libraries will be an attractive location for a qualified candidate for a variety of reasons. We have remarkable strengths in a number of synergistic areas at UNT, and this position represents a unique opportunity for the right individual.
Joint Efforts with Other Deans
One of my initial hopes upon arriving at UNT was to begin a systematic process of exploring joint efforts with my fellow Deans. The campus strategic research planning effort temporarily took the place of that ambition, but I will return to it in the coming twelve months. I see a large number of possible collaborative endeavors between the library and other colleges/schools. These will take time to discuss, analyze, and plan, but I look forward to the prospects for such activities.
Communication and Outreach
I continue to think that the UNT Libraries does not do an adequate job of communicating with the constituencies they serve, and that outreach programs could be far better implemented. The new organizational structure that I have put into place within the library is designed to improve this situation, with new assistant deans for External Relations and Public Services now in place. I look forward to working with these new library leaders and their overhauled organizations to better get the word out about what we can offer to our clientele.
Open Access Policy Efforts
I plan for the UNT Libraries to lead cooperative statewide efforts to promote open access and digital preservation policies for scholarship. At my directive, the UNT libraries joined the ARL SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) as well as the MetaArchive Cooperative for digital preservation. The UNT libraries will continue to foster open access policies and sustain digital preservation of research information by organizing major events and undertaking collaborative projects in these areas involving faculty, the libraries, other campus groups, and other partner research institutions.
Finally, it is clear to me that I need to devote significant time to working with the Office of Advancement on fundraising efforts. One mark of a successful research library is the scale of growth in its endowments for collection growth and program development. It is my responsibility as Dean of Libraries to successfully develop long-term relationships with prospective donors. Again, this is not a quick or simple process, but one that is essential to long term prosperity for the libraries.