Columbia University Libraries

In fall 2015, the Columbia University Libraries initiated a Strategic Directions process to articulate the highest-level aspirations of our organization. The Strategic Directions process engaged the CUL staff and the broader Columbia University community in considering ways in which the Libraries can leverage its strengths and potentials to enrich the intellectual life of the University and to advance the mission of the institution. Aligning closely with University-wide priorities, the CUL Strategic Directions build upon past accomplishments and shared goals, while charting new future-focused directions for the organization.

Our process has taken into account the perspectives of communities of diverse stakeholders -- student and faculty advisory groups, the library staff, colleagues and key collaborators – each of whom worked with us intensively throughout this academic year, engaging in substantive discussions that help inform the Libraries’ future directions. We gathered and synthesized stakeholder inputs and as a direct result of our year-long process, created a roadmap for prioritizing our efforts over the next five years. The CUL Strategic Directions set high-level goals that will serve as touchstones for ongoing decision-making and guides for committing resources to the most impactful strategic efforts and initiatives.

The Strategic Directions process also afforded opportunities across our organization to improve our performance as leaders and strategic thinkers, and to change the ways we make decisions and conduct the work of the Libraries. Our professional development activities will continue with ongoing focus on skill-building and pattern-making, introducing new and more inclusive ways of working that move the Libraries forward towards becoming an even more dynamic partner for our University.

Columbia University is a world-renowned institution that promotes the highest standards of academic excellence and advances learning and research on critical global issues and problems.  Throughout our libraries, expert staff support the diversity of Columbia’s programs and faculty-led initiatives that touch nearly every part of the globe.  World-class collection resources, quality learning experiences, and innovative research support services that we provide help further University priorities and contribute to the intellectual life of Columbia.

Changes in research and scholarly communications, information technologies, and higher education present new challenges for us and our communities.  The CUL Strategic Directions process challenged us to listen, think, and plan together with our stakeholders throughout this year. We are seizing this opportunity to present an expansive new agenda for the Libraries -- one that inspires us to raise the expectations we have for ourselves, guide the aspirations we have to advance research and knowledge at an even higher level, and invigorate the hopes we have for the positive difference we can make in the world. 

Ann Thornton
Vice Provost and University Librarian
Columbia University in the City of New York