Appendix A — Strategic Landscape

 

Strategic Landscape: Opportunities and Threats

In February 2018, Oregon State University Libraries and Press participated in a university-wide effort to articulate goals and strategies for the next fiscal year. The main outcome of this effort was to map goals and strategies to available resources. This exercise required units to identify opportunities wherein OSULP could enhance our services, collections and programs while advancing the university’s mission. Units were also asked to identify threats to maintaining or providing current service levels.

 

OSULP defined multiple issues in its strategic financial plan. These are included here along with additional opportunities and threats generated during the Strategic Planning Committee’s retreat. This analysis links these opportunities and threats to relevant goals and/or priorities within the Libraries and Press Strategic Plan and also within the university’s Strategic Plan 4.0.

 

 

Threats

 

Storage. The Valley Library faces an immediate space crisis caused by the imminent demolition of our off-site storage facility (behind Kerr Administration Building), and the urgent need to replace our high-density shelving system. Given that learning spaces in Valley and Guin Libraries are already at a premium, this is an urgent threat.

 

Space. The Valley Library has been consistently rated by students as the “Best Place to Study” on campus — even as increases in student FTE have placed new pressures on library spaces. Student study areas are full during midterms and finals, and study rooms are routinely booked out in advance. Since 1999, the Ecampus unit, also housed in the Valley Library, has grown dramatically and placed additional pressures on available space for student use. To respond to increased demands on spaces and services and do regular building maintenance requires reliable support and collaboration with campus space planning as well as facilities units.

 

Serials Crisis. Regular inflation in the journal publishing market strains academic library budgets to such an extreme that the situation is routinely called a “crisis.” To maintain our existing collections, OSULP’s collection budget needs to grow by approximately 5 percent annually to keep up with inflation. While budget increases will allow OSULP to meet short-term needs, the underlying issue still exists. With large publishers like Elsevier seeking to control more of the journal publishing cycle, the threat is growing. Libraries need faculty and administrative support to stand up to publisher demands and negotiate fair deals and/or opt for reduced access to bundled publisher packages. Administrative support for inter-institutional responses to this crisis is required to leverage the buying power of research institutions.

 

Affordability. The high cost of learning materials, particularly textbooks, has a clear negative impact on student success and persistence. Students routinely turn to the library to access materials they cannot afford, and OSULP proactively collects and promotes resources to meet these needs. As the cost of higher education continue to rise for students, and federal financial aid fails to keep up with demand, the pressures on library resources will continue to grow.

 

Federal Actions. Oregon State University relies on federal funding to support research. The university must also comply with a host of federal regulations that have direct and indirect impact on library services and programs.

  • Cuts to federal funding for scientific research will have an immediate effect on the OSULP collections budget. In addition, the proposed elimination from the federal budget of funds for the Institute of Museum and Library Services would have a direct effect on library resources and on OSULP’s ability to seek outside support for initiatives.
  • The recent repeal of net neutrality regulations will have a significant impact on research libraries nationwide, which rely on fast, reliable broadband services to deliver information and provide services. If OSULP users are forced to find alternatives to commercial internet service providers (ISPs), the demand on OSULP’s technology infrastructure could grow.

 

Salaries, Workload and Work Environment. OSULP faculty salaries remain among the lowest at Oregon State University although our faculty have been recognized several times for scholarly productivity. OSULP has not received new positions in response to significant growth in student and faculty FTE. Since the current faculty is extended beyond its ability to maintain existing services, retention is an issue. Largely as a result of lower than average salaries, OSULP has struggled to recruit librarians with specialized skills and experience beyond the entry level to develop new library services.

  • These issues are just as pressing for classified staff and perhaps have an impact on turnover within this employee category. In the Libraries’ Emerging Technologies and Services department, the salaries for web developers and computer programmers are not competitive, and recruitment and retention is a constant challenge.
  • Low salaries for all employees along with the growing shortage of affordable housing in the mid-Willamette Valley only amplifies recruitment and retention issues.
  • Data gathered from the 2016 OSULP climate survey indicated that communication and transparency in decision making were areas that OSULP might target to improve work culture/environment and job satisfaction. OSULP has acted upon concerns expressed via the climate survey to improve our work environment. We have broadened participation, enhanced communication across the organization, provided more professional development opportunities for classified staff and begun to analyze faculty salary issues, existing performance appraisal processes, and current faculty position descriptions. Ongoing work is necessary to create and maintain what the OSU Strategic Plan 4.0 describes as a “culture of belonging, collaboration and innovation.” The climate survey did not explicitly focus on the recruitment and retention of a more diverse workplace, but OSULP must build on ongoing initiatives like the Diversity Scholars program to diversify the workforce.

 

Student Demographics. OSU’s student body is increasingly more diverse and international, while faculty and staff demographics have not increased proportionately. In fall 2018, 25.4 percent of the students enrolled at Oregon State at Corvallis and Ecampus self-identified as students of color, compared to 15.8 percent a decade ago. Though the number of bachelor’s degrees earned by underrepresented students had increased to 9.8 percent in 2017-18, OSU continues to be challenged by the lack of success in increasing the six-year (time to) graduation rate, especially for underrepresented students compared to other students. International student enrollment in fall 2018 accounted for 11 percent of overall enrollment, compared to 4.9 percent of enrollment a decade ago. Enrollment of transfers and Ecampus students also continues to increase steadily. Nearly 2,000 new transfer students enter OSU each fall term, and transfer students comprise nearly a third of overall enrollment.

 

Funding and Budgeting Issues. Persistent serials inflation, renovation projects, salary issues, and changes in the publishing market are all challenges for OSULP along with ongoing disinvestment in higher education at the state level. As the university confronts funding challenges, it must seek new sources for revenue and explore alternative funding models.

  • The renovation of the Valley Library in 1999 represents Oregon State’s last significant investment in the physical spaces of OSU Libraries and Press. Budget allocations continue to follow a historical model that has not been able to keep up with regular inflation in the scholarly publishing market, nor has it kept pace with growth in student and faculty FTE. In recent years, monies have been allocated to address (but not fill) gaps in collections budgets; however, there have been no similar allocations to address increased staffing needs or reinvestments in library physical spaces. Updzting library spaces for users and workers requires sustained investment in an equally strong information technology infrastructure and in staff with specialized skills.
  • OSU has embarked upon a new shared responsibility budget process to ensure ongoing financial sustainability. OSULP should expect to participate actively in campus conversations to address questions about the appropriate budget metrics and current benchmarks for service, support and management units like the Libraries and Press.
  • State support for higher education across the United States continues to dwindle. Additional reductions in federal funding for research and education also has impacts on library and press services. Campuses face making up the difference by increasing tuition or making reductions. Increases in tuition pass the burden along to students and exacerbate affordability issues for students. This ongoing disinvestment in higher education has negative impacts on academic libraries.
  • In 2014-15, OSU Libraries and Press lost the remaining FTE from the OSU Foundation that had been dedicated to supporting our fundraising efforts. While we have maintained annual fundraising levels, we anticipate that recent changes in federal tax laws could discourage our typical OSULP donors from supporting Libraries or Press initiatives.

 

Data. Providing a secure environment to ensure data privacy for individual users will continue to test OSULP and the university. Personal privacy, confidentiality of records and academic freedom remain important values for OSULP, but there continue to be very real challenges to individual and network security as well as compliance. As we address these challenges and demonstrate our longstanding values, our efforts may compete with campus efforts to leverage data-gathering capability (such as learning analytics). Any potential conflicts will call for extended conversations about how to appropriately gather data to personalize learning and advising without comprising security, privacy or compliance.

 

 

Opportunities

 

Innovative Redesign of Library Space. Continued advancements in digitization of scholarly materials provide academic libraries with an opportunity to improve research support and to create new learning spaces at the same time. High-quality digital collections allow researchers to have anywhere, anytime access to information, and they also support emerging research based on data mining and large-scale textual analysis. Campus investment to help OSULP respond to the elimination of our offsite storage location and replace print collections with digital would allow us to create useful, dynamic, necessary learning spaces for students.

 

Continuing Advances in Digital Scholarship. The digital era continues to provide opportunities for the development of collections, services and platforms.

  • Digitized collections support data mining and textual analysis. Changes in computing power enable research on large data sets, and this opens up new lines of inquiry across disciplines.
  • Digital platforms allow scholars to explore new ways of communicating and sharing research and open up new metrics for measuring the impact of research.
  • University presses are looking to digital technologies to reimagine the scholarly monograph.

 

Library as Place. The response to a recent reduction in the Valley Library’s open hours shows that students want to study in the library even when other spaces are available. By investing in collaborative learning spaces and academic success services in the library, where students want to be, Oregon State will efficiently and effectively support student success and engagement.

 

Open Initiatives. OSULP is deeply committed to openness and sharing, and as such, we join with other academic libraries to embrace open access to scholarship and curricular materials. Open initiatives create a path for universities and researchers to retain control of their intellectual content in order to reduce costs for consumers and to expand the reach and impact of research. Open does not mean free, nor does it mean a rejection of rigor or review. Instead, open initiatives provide structures that researchers can use to make intentional choices about sharing the results of their work.

 

Interdisciplinary Approaches. There is increased emphasis — at OSU and across the academy — on the value and importance of interdisciplinary approaches to teaching, learning and research. Libraries, as inherently interdisciplinary institutions, are uniquely positioned to bring together students, faculty and staff from all parts of the university to collaboratively examine problems and solutions and to achieve common goals.

 

Ecampus Growth. As enrollment increases for Ecampus distance learning programs, our partnership opportunities can extend to offering more digital learning objects, web conferencing, increased access to library faculty and staff via online chat, and addressing the development and adoption of open education resources, especially in the context of Canvass, the university’s learning management system. We can also continue efforts to improve the discovery of resources from OSU Libraries and Press through usability studies and other assessment techniques. This kind of assessment to develop and refine website searching as well as discovery platforms and tools will improve the library experience for all users.

 

Changes in Leadership. Models of leadership are changing in higher education, requiring new and different skills for future senior administrators and relying on a non-traditional pathway to leadership positions. Trends suggest that more and more faculty will retire in the next five to 15 years, and this demographic will include senior administrators. With leadership turnover comes the potential for realignment of OSU’s existing organizational structure that could benefit OSU Libraries and Press or diminish its current reporting status.

 

OSU’s Next Capital Campaign. The OSU Foundation is finalizing its strategic plan and preparing for the launch of the university’s second capital campaign. This multi-year effort will provide possibilities for the University Librarian and other OSULP leaders to work with Foundation personnel to identify and gain access to individuals with interest in supporting the fundraising priorities of the Libraries and Press.

 

Sustainability. OSU Libraries and Press has engaged in multiple efforts that demonstrate our commitment to creating a more sustainable world. We have achieved successes in reducing the generation of waste that ends up in landfills through multiple strategies involving reuse, recycling and composting. We have an opportunity to build on these efforts and partner with other units on campus to adopt and implement additional objectives that would reduce OSU’s carbon footprint.