The FAU Libraries, serving more than 30,000 students in Boca Raton, Jupiter, Harbor Branch, Fort Lauderdale, and Davie, are in transition. Dean Carol Hixson, who began her tenure at FAU in August 2015, has been spearheading comprehensive changes to the FAU Libraries. Under her leadership, there have been professional reviews undertaken by external consultants to study the Libraries as a whole (November 2015), the Communications and Donor Engagement department (April and September of 2016), and Technical Services (October 2016). Each consultation has resulted in significant organizational and programmatic changes, with many changes still in the works. Dean Hixson has also instituted periodic all-staff meetings, a monthly Libraries Leadership Team meeting to review issues and set policies, a Google site for sharing information widely, increased funding and support for library faculty and staff professional development, and carried out librarywide strategic planning November 17-18, 2016. She has also charged a Space Allocation Committee, an Exhibits Committee, a Diversity and Inclusion Committee, a Website Redesign Committee and more. More information about the work underway can be found on the open Google site at: http://committees.faulibs.com/
One of her first organizational changes was to eliminate a longstanding Associate Dean position in January 2016. That shift, recommended by the first team of external consultants in November 2015, opened the door for many other substantive changes. Currently, there are two sitting Assistant Deans, with a third one being recruited and a fourth one being planned. The goal for these four positions is to enable the Dean to step away from the day-to-day operational issues and focus instead on broader issues and fundraising, as well as to develop a strong administrative team who can envision and implement needed changes in a timely manner and can provide broad leadership to assist the library faculty and staff in developing new skills and services.
The new vision for the FAU Libraries is student-focused, with proactive engagement across the University and the broader community. The Libraries are becoming service-centric rather than collection-centric, with the expectation that some services will be delivered without the need for users to enter one of our physical spaces. The Libraries are moving to a just-in-time rather than a just-in-case service model to enable the library faculty and staff to undertake new initiatives without compromising essential legacy services.
The Libraries’ physical and virtual spaces are in need of a complete overhaul in order to meet the needs of FAU’s students and faculty. While work is underway in both areas, there is a great deal more work still needed. Website redesign will be rolled out in 2017. Space utilization is a major area of emphasis, especially in the aging main Wimberly Library on the Boca Raton campus. The Space Allocation Committee has overseen efforts to reduce the footprint of physical collections and consolidate staff offices in order to open up more individual and group study spaces for the very busy facility. Major achievements by the group have been the creation of a Graduate Student Study Lounge, the redesign of the main lobby with FAU branding and new furnishings, the upgrading of one of the Wimberly Library’s three computer labs, and a new project to open up the fifth floor as a multi-purpose study and presentation space. The needs of the Wimberly Library surpass the University’s financial ability to maintain and improve it, representing an urgent fundraising area for the Libraries.
Changes to physical space go hand-in-hand with changes to the service model. Within the FAU Libraries, Collection Management, Access Services, Interlibrary Loan, Special Collections, Technical Services, and Reference and Instructional Services are in the midst of reviewing and modifying their services. A newly created position of Scholarly Communication Director and the development of academic and non-academic liaisons signal a more active approach to engaging with and leading the FAU community. With so many changes, faculty and staff professional development is key. A new culture emphasizing broad collaboration, open communication, and individual and group accountability is taking hold, relying on assessment data and direct interaction with library users to inform and guide the Libraries.
There is an air of excitement among library faculty and staff, with a shared vision having been articulated clearly during the Strategic Planning Retreat. The new Libraries Mission, as drafted at the retreat, reads:
As leaders at Florida Atlantic University, we connect people to knowledge and global communities of learning across time and space. Reimagining services and spaces, we enable users to explore, collaborate, educate, and create in their journey toward academic excellence and lifelong learning.