What’s Next? Following from the Library Retreat

At the March 19, 2015 All-Library Meeting Valerie Hotchkiss and Bill Mischo presented an update on the strategic planning process on behalf of the Strategic Planning Steering Team: AllLibraryMeeting-SP-2015March19 [PDF of PPT Slides]. They reported on the analysis of the input from the Library Retreat as well as the follow-up that is planned.

The Library Retreat resulted in an immense amount of data and many conversations – all helped to help scope the focus for the coming months. This image presents an overview of the upcoming events and structure for the strategic planning process including stakeholders and timelines:


The Strategic Planning Steering Team is particularly grateful to the Associate University Librarians, who are partnering in offering the Deep Dive Sessions, as well as the Staff Development and Training Committee, which has agreed to partner in following up on the suggestions to discuss issues related to staffing/moral/training/organizational culture. This later follow up will be timed to take advantage of the results from the ClimateQUAL survey that was recently conducted and take place in late spring/early summer depending upon when the results from the survey are received and what the findings are.

Ideas for Spring Discussions (Summary from Retreat)

As a final activity, each Retreat participant had the opportunity to identify “Up to Three Strategic Planning Topics I would Like to Propose for an Open Session Discussion During Spring 2015.” Participants submitted a total of 373 ideas! The Strategic Planning Steering Team again used a Wordle to reveal the themes in the responses.





Scenario Discussions (Summary from Retreat)

Group discussions at the Library Retreat were based on discussion prompts. The use of scenarios for discussion was meant to generate ideas to think with over the coming months and not to indicate any predetermined decisions or priorities.

20150109_092748Each of the total of 12 scenarios was discussion by four tables of participants, resulting in 60 pages of transcribed input from the recording worksheets that each group filled out. That is a lot of text! In addition to reviewing the worksheets, the Strategic Planning Steering Team used a visualization technique in order to reveal some of the common themes as represented by keywords. Here is the Wordle that represents all of the input:

finalwordleofallinputIn addition to this overall Wordle, the Strategic Planning Steering Team reviewed the Wordles for all of the individual scenarios. The scenarios and the Wordles for each scenario are available here: individual scenario wordles [Word Document].

Organizational Characteristics (Summary from Retreat)

At the Library Retreat, participants were seated in 24 small groups. The first activity was an exploration of the organizational characteristics of the Library. Each group had a set of 20150109_08572872 cards with descriptive words, which they sorted into three piles – The Library Is, The Library Should Be, and The Library Should Not Be. Each group also had 8 blank cards so they could add words to any of the piles if they desired to do so. The tables were abuzz with chatter and debate as the groups had to quickly come to consensus as they did the sorting.


An analysis of all of the input from the groups resulting in these terms emerging as the most desired organizational characteristics for the future: actionable, consistent, cutting edge, diverse, efficient, empowering, flexible, fun, modern, proactive, simple, strategic, tactical, and visionary. As we continue our discussions in the spring and summer to identify specific strategies and actions for the University Library, these are a set of terms that will inspire and to which we can all aspire.

Analysis and Details:

The provided terms were: accessible, actionable, aggressive, approachable, authentic, bleeding-edge, casual, communal, conservative, consistent, cool, current, custom, customer focused, cutting edge, detail oriented, diverse, down-to-earth, driven, eclectic, efficient, elegant, elite, empowering, experienced, fair, flexible, focused, formal, friendly, fun, global, high-quality, hip, historic, in touch, informal, innovative, leading edge, market-driven, modern, narrow, pioneering, practical, premium, proactive, professional, progressive, reactive, relational, reliable, responsible, responsive, savvy, serious, simple, slick, smart, strategic, structured, tactical, technological, thought leader, timeless, timely, traditional, trendy, tried-and-true, trusted, visionary, welcoming, and wise. This chart shows the summary of how the groups sorted the provided terms: summary chart of characteristics [Word Document].

Groups were also able to offer additional terms. Groups added that The Library Is: bureaucratic, collaborative, devoted, dynamic, heart, relevant, respectful, user-driven, and valuable – with collaborative being added by two tables. Groups added that The Library Should Be: accountable, assertive, attractive and functional facility, branded, caring, central to educational mission, clear communication, collegial, democratic, discoverable, educational, equitable, inclusive, integrated with campus, mentoring, mission-driven, open minded, passionate, and well-financed – with inclusive being added by two tables as well. Groups added that The Library Should Not be: anachronism, compartmentalized, exclusive, hierarchical, stagnant, stuffy, supercilious, and vacuum/isolated.

Strategic Planning Office Hours – March 2015

A common theme on the feedback form from the Library Retreat was the value of Strategic Planning Office Hours for communication and feedback. As such, I’m pleased to announce the upcoming schedule – all held in Library 434 (across the stairwell from Library 428):

  • March 4, 9-11 am
  • March 12, 9-11 am
  • March 23, 1-3 pm
  • March 30, 3-5 pm

Anyone is welcome to stop by for informal conversation about strategic planning, the process, ideas, etc. If you can’t make one of these times or would like to have a conversation with a group (e.g., committee or unit), please don’t hesitate to ask for another time. Email Lisa Hinchliffe (ljanicke@illinois.edu).

(A version of this post was sent to LibNews-L on March 3 as well.)