March 2020

As part of the Library’s annual budget process, I meet with the Provost and the Vice Provosts to review our annual report and budget request. I hope this executive summary, prepared for this year’s meeting, is a useful overview of the report, which we will share later this month.

Executive Summary, University Library Annual Report and Budget for FY21

Throughout the Library’s annual report and budget request for FY21 are clear signs of the Library’s strength and vitality. We have rebounded in the ARL rankings, moving from 20th back to 15th, and are likely to continue that upward trajectory. From all quarters in the Library, vigorous energy is being devoted to support the strategic directions we identified in a process we concluded this past Fall. The Library’s faculty and staff are embracing innovation and growing our initiatives using our existing resources.

Among our many opportunities, we highlight two: the Library’s Building Project and efforts to strengthen staffing and culture. The Library Building Project will be a critical tool for the Library to offer contemporary library services, to realize opportunities for efficiency, and as a means to mitigate dangers, the greatest of which is the threat to the collection itself: the oldest stacks represent a two-fold danger, both the slow destruction of older materials because of poor environmental controls, and the potential rapid destruction of the collection from fire. We also see great opportunities in our staffing efforts, particularly for multicultural initiatives and support for innovation. Indeed, since submitting the budget proposal the Library has crafted and funded three very compelling faculty positions supporting student success, teaching and learning, and emerging/immersive technologies; we have also taken important steps to fill our chief diversity officer position. We continue to devote significant energy to strengthening our faculty promotion and tenure processes, and our AP promotion process.(1)

We highlight two threats, including the threat of failing to undertake the Library Building Project and the disruptive nature of technology transitions. Failing to undertake the Library Building Project threatens the collection and will create challenges for us to create new services and efficiencies. The current transition from Voyager to Alma, the Library’s finance, inventory management, and access system, has consumed considerable time, introduced data management issues, and will probably cause problems for our users as they see the Library’s collection through this new lens. The latter is most likely to be felt in the next academic year.

We discuss efforts and measures related to strategic priorities in each area of our new strategic plan. In support of our goal to be effective partners on campus, we discuss measures of success drawn from a national survey and our role in instructional programs. With regard to providing transformative learning experiences, we discuss our role in campus student support initiatives and support for accessibility. As part of our efforts to have societal and global impact, we discuss the success of the Illinois Distributed Museum and our community work in support of multiculturalism. And in support of our goals around sustainability, we discuss our work on the BTAA Shared Print Repository and our efforts to shape new, more sustainable content licensing agreements.(2)

We hope that our budget document makes clear the Library’s commitment to developing meaningful Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). We include many of the metrics that have guided and will continue to guide us over the years. We also include a discussion of emergent KPIs, particularly the use of electronic resources and the impact of our instructional programs. We are undertaking important new hiring in support of student learning, which will aid us in developing these instructional KPIs. Our early data on the use of electronic resources is very promising; the KPIs may help us to communicate value to the campus and identify issues of service delivery.

Consolidation has been a key Library strategy for cost savings. In our budget document, we explain that back office operations in the Law Library can be consolidated to streamline workflows while improving compliance with the national and international standards. This strategy may realize savings of as much as $100,000. The proposal has been discussed both with Dean Amar and Faye Jones, the Director of the Law Library. 

We note that most of our carryover funds in general fund accounts are encumbered for spending on existing positions and planned activities. The Library’s ICR Balance (ca. $1.5M) is earmarked for costs related to the Library Building Project (including architectural and engineering costs for the next phase of the project) and a portion of the expenses for construction of a storage vault in the lowest level of the Undergraduate Library. The Library’s Gift Fund Balances ($9.93M) are mostly restricted funds for library collections. Some unrestricted funds will be used for facilities needs. The Plant Account Balances ($2.83M) are primarily committed to Library facilities and renovation needs. We are prepared to move funds to Plant Accounts to support future needs, particularly around the Library Building Project.

In closing, I will note that our future strategic priorities include developing KPIs to guide improvement, assessment, communication, and negotiating new transformative agreements. I believe these two efforts will make the University of Illinois Library a better library, and will amplify the impact of our institution’s research.

John Wilkin
The Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Dean of Libraries and University Librarian

(1)We note here the progress we have made in diversifying our academic staff since 2013 (from 6.8% to 15.9%). The percentage of underrepresented library faculty increased from 11.8% to 16.7% during that period, and percentages of underrepresented academic professionals in the library increased from 1.6% to 15.3%.

(2)Sustainability is of particular importance to the Library. Our goal is to operate at a steady state (with additional support for salary program and collection inflation) but to leverage efficiencies to shape and support new initiatives. Several consolidations and purposeful shifts have allowed us to launch key efforts. Moreover, we have used one-time funds to support changes to our facilities and to increase digitization (“we’re number 3!”).