I. Preamble

The previous Strategic Plan (2012-17) for Oregon State University Libraries and Press (OSULP) garnered an official compliment from the visiting onsite evaluation team for the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the regional accrediting agency for OSU. This recognition acknowledges that strategic planning is a strength of our organization. OSULP still proceeded to work on and improve its processes for the next period covering 2018-23. We’re proud of adopting an even more inclusive process than previously utilized.


Representatives from across the organization comprised the OSULP Strategic Planning Committee (Appendix B). Their leadership in directing broad participation ensured that classified staff and faculty members throughout the Libraries and Press had multiple opportunities to provide input during various stages of the planning process (Appendix C).


There are a myriad of ways that OSULP could move forward to shape our future and have meaningful impact. This Strategic Plan charts the four broad goals that we identified for our focus in the next 3-5 years:


1. Excellence in services and personnel

2. Durable collaborations

3. Continuous improvement and experimentation

4. Responsible stewardship of critical resources


We’ll emphasize several important internal and external priorities that we expect to evolve. To determine these priorities, it was imperative that we scrutinize trends as well as challenges affecting research libraries and university presses and higher education in general. We describe several significant threats and opportunities in Appendix A, but here are a few that influenced our priorities:

  • Higher education in the U.S. has experienced a steady change in student demographics for the last decade. More women, students of color, online distance education learners, veterans and international students are enrolling at universities like OSU. Even while more doors are opening to a more diverse student body, many students face considerable debt upon graduation. Accompanying the changing demographics are changing expectations both from students (and their parents) as well as state legislatures about affordability, flexible access to courses and learning materials, institutional accountability related to enrollment and graduation rates, and the quality of the overall educational experience.
  • Academic and research libraries continue to seek ways to optimize library spaces formerly allocated to housing journals and books. Building on the clear enthusiasm that students have shown for our collaborative learning spaces, we’ll continue to contribute to academic success initiatives at the university. Our contributions will require ongoing assessment and continuous improvement of our facilities, collections and services.
  • OSU Libraries has already converted significant print resources to digital formats, even while facing perpetual budget constraints because of persistent, unrealistic inflation in the commercial academic journal publishing market. Flagging government investment in the research enterprise as well as in higher education only intensifies fiscal challenges. Higher education must identify new revenue streams and perhaps rely on fundraising efforts more than ever.
  • The transition to online content is only part of a broader worldwide emphasis on digital scholarship. This landscape encompasses so much: the use of productivity software, 3-D printing, data literacy and scholarly publishing support, data security and privacy. A search of any number of search engines yields more data, information and resources than any single library can acquire and manage. Navigating the digital scholarly landscape requires the recruitment and retention of faculty and staff with specialized skills, and these workers need to be well-compensated and supported via professional development opportunities.

It is essential that OSULP’s goals and strategies align with those of Oregon State University’s Strategic Plan 4.0. The university’s plan articulates Oregon State’s vision to be a leader “among land-grant universities in the integrated creation, sharing and application of knowledge for the betterment of humankind.”


Our alignment with the university’s Strategic Plan is demonstrated best through the actions that OSULP departments will undertake to implement their individual work plans. Selected departmental actions are included in this document, and full details of departmental plans are available online. These acknowledge the distributed and unique contributions that all departments will make to the subsequent success of the entire organization. They provide a glimpse of our shared commitment to creating and delivering the very best programs, services and scholarly content to benefit our principal stakeholders: OSU’s students and faculty.


As a part of a top-tier land grant institution engaging on local, state, regional, national and global playing fields, OSULP also serves a wider community. Several OSULP units extend the university’s teaching, research and outreach mission beyond Oregon State University’s main campus in Corvallis. The Guin Library in Newport, Oregon is an integral part of the Hatfield Marine Science Center, a leading international marine laboratory that hosts research and education programs from OSU’s colleges and multiple state and federal agencies. After nearly six decades of publishing, Oregon State University Press continues to document the intellectual, cultural, and social development of Oregon and the West. The Special Collections and Archives Research Center curates the Libraries’ distinctive and unique collections in several signature areas of interest for scholars near and far.


A strategic plan guides daily work, focuses energy and resources, provides a means for evaluating progress, and determines an organization’s appropriate audiences. Understandably, an important audience for this Strategic Plan is the campus community with whom we engage. That engagement will need to be ongoing because we expect to adapt to change and gain additional insight that will influence any strategic planning and implementation that we pursue. OSULP classified staff and faculty members are the other primary, perhaps less obvious, audience for this plan. They will be the source of our innovation and creativity, resourcefulness and reflection that drive the successes that we achieve.


A strategic plan offers an overall sense of direction. We’ve sought to be “a front runner among research libraries and university presses” and achieve distinction in our practices, services and programs. That outcome remains both lofty and admirable, but with this plan, we also want to capture all the essential day-to-day work that’s necessary to be a leader among peers.


As we were completing our planning process, I was reminded of a gift from a retiring library dean with whom I had worked earlier in my career. The gift, offered to all my colleagues, was a tiny, handmade book with this simple exhortation: “Make progress every day.” What a potent reminder that the work of a research library or a university press is never done. We can and do make advances, and sometimes they come in leaps and bounds, but more often they occur incrementally, yielding subtle changes that lead to the eventual realization of outcomes.


Make progress every day. While encouraging daily diligence has its merits, this bidding is best applied in the context of a robust yet flexible strategic plan. Such is the 2018-23 Strategic Plan for Oregon State University Libraries and Press, a plan that establishes our intent to be a resource for communities seeking our unique expertise and skills and a center for learning and scholarship at Oregon State University.


Faye A. Chadwell

The Donald and Delpha Campbell University Librarian