University Library Strategic Plan 2017/18 – 2020/21

The Library's Strategic Plan has been produced in order to guide its development in line with the University's Vision 2021. It identifies the Library's purpose and values, and draws together the strategic priorities which respond to the institutional, information and technological environments.

Strategic objectives for the Library have been formulated to align with the key themes of Learning and Teaching, Research and Innovation, and Engagement. The objectives are underpinned by a number of enabling activities which will ensure that the Library can deliver the Strategy effectively.

Download a shorter version of the Library's purpose values and operating principles

Purpose of the University Library

To develop and deliver high quality and innovative information services, resources and environments to support the research, learning and teaching of the University and to benefit the wider community.

The Library's values and operating principles

  • The customer is at the heart of everything we do
  • We are dedicated to providing a friendly, professional and efficient service
  • We are flexible and innovative, ensuring that customer needs are met and exceeded
  • Through training and personal development we ensure the continued excellence and expertise of our staff
  • Our supportive and inclusive team environment encourages all staff to contribute and have a voice
  • We actively engage with the wider community to share, collaborate and inspire
  • We are enthusiastic to support the wider interests of the University and to enhance its reputation
  • We promote accessibility, equality and diversity in all our services

The Institutional Planning context

A central feature of the University’s mission in Vision 2021 is to be a civic university with a global reputation for academic excellence, and it has the pursuit of knowledge and understanding as one of its primary values. The success of the University depends on information resources, services and technologies to support the core functions of Learning, Teaching and the Student Experience, Research and Innovation, and Engagement and Internationalisation. The Library has an important role to play in supporting the full range of these institutional strategies.

The Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Strategy emphasises the importance of providing access to environments within which effective learning can take place. This requires continuous improvements to be made to the quality of physical and virtual information environments, along with the range and accessibility of information resources and services. In its commitment to deliver teaching and facilitate applied learning of the highest standard, the Strategy specifically prioritises the development and embedding of e-learning technologies, which will provide an opportunity and a need to link the Library’s resources seamlessly into the emerging Digital Campus. The Library will continue to make a vital contribution to the student experience by supporting the development of academic skills and independent learning, and provide employment opportunities for students who make an important contribution to a number of its services.

The Research and Innovation Strategy identifies the importance of the research environment and facilities, which will involve not only the provision of appropriate information resources, but also the development of new services, including large-scale data storage, management and preservation. The Library is also closely involved in the development of research management and repository systems for the University. The need for researchers to make their research outputs available on Open Access and to manage their research data effectively, in response to the requirements of the Research and Funding Councils, will involve  the Library  working with the Faculties and other Services to develop University policy in this area, and to provide appropriate support. The Library also contributes to researcher training and provides ongoing support in the discovery, use and management of information resources.

In supporting the Internationalisation and Engagement Strategies, the Library will assist in the development of services for partnerships and new activities overseas as well as providing resources and services for international students and researchers at home. It will also make a direct contribution to a number of specific projects and activities in support of Engagement through initiatives focused on widening participation and links with schools, and the development of partnerships with local, regional and national cultural organisations.

The Library actively contributes to building the reputation of the University by supporting its strategic objectives, through professional activity in the HE and Library world, and by developing and exploiting its unique and distinctive resources for the benefit of the whole community.

The Internal Context

Significant issues within the University which will guide the direction of the Library and its services during the planning period include the following:

  • The University’s programme for growth, along with its educational partnerships in the UK and overseas
  • The development of Science Central and implications for the delivery of information services on a growing campus (the Urban Sciences Building in 2017, and the Learning and Teaching Centre in 2019)
  • The diversification of programmes and shifts in the balance of provision for taught postgraduate students
  • The development of online courses, including the Global MBA and courses on open platforms (e.g. MOOCS)
  • Developments in NUIS, including new courses, additional numbers of students, and the development of postgraduate courses, research activity, business partnerships and CPD support
  • Focus on widening participation, and developing interest in transition issues, both into University and between stages of study
  • Commitment to the development of skills to enhance employability as an essential part of the student experience
  • Development and maintenance of relationships with the alumni community
  • Targets for NSS results at the School and institutional level
  • Increased concentration of student accommodation on or near the campus, bringing increased footfall and 24 hour living closer to the libraries
  • The  impact of Societal Challenge Themes, and the potential requirement for supporting information resources and services
  • The development of strategies for publication of research outputs at the Faculty, School and Institute level
  • The development of university policy on the management and preservation of research data, and the need to deal effectively with data curation and metadata
  • Focus on business process improvement, efficiency and value for money
  • The need to develop further management competencies at all levels
  • Digital literacy in the context of the Digital Campus

The External Context

Major issues in the external environment which will impact on the Library include:

  • Changes in student recruitment criteria, including lifting the cap on recruitment from 2015 onwards
  • The Research Councils’ and Funding Councils’ requirements for open access (OA) publication and Research Data Management
  • The introduction and evolution of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) from 2016/7 onwards
  • Academic publishing companies attempting to grow their markets and protect their profit margins in the face of OA
  • Developments in e-book technology and increasing availability of digital book content
  • New business models for information products, including new publishing opportunities for open access monographs
  • Increasing availability and use of mobile electronic devices, giving new opportunities for delivery of information and deployment of learning tools
  • The development of digital cultures
  • Increased availability of open research datasets leading to potential opportunities and challenges for linked data and the sharing of information
  • Developments in pedagogy and learning styles, which will impact on utilisation of learning spaces, and the provision of learner support (information literacy, writing skills, etc)
  • Increasing customer expectation will produce a greater demand for the personalisation of services
  • The pressure towards shared services and collaboration in public services
  • Developments in copyright legislation and licensing on a European and transnational basis

The Library's Strategic Priorities and Objectives

The Library’s Strategic Priorities for the next five years are focused on the following themes:

SP1 - To support the University’s programme for growth and diversification in learning and teaching
SP2 - To provide effective support to the University’s research and researchers
SP3 - To provide services for the International University in the UK and overseas
SP4 - To develop, promote and exploit our unique and distinctive collections
SP5 - To ensure efficiency, effectiveness and value for money in all our services and operations

Underlying these priorities is a number of Strategic Objectives, which are further developed as SMART objectives within the Library’s annual business plan. The business plan is developed on a collaborative basis by Library staff at all levels, with activities sponsored and monitored by the Library Strategy Group. Within each Strategic theme, the Strategic Objectives (SO) are as follows:

SP1 - To support the University’s programme for growth and diversification in learning and teaching
SO1 Develop new learning spaces to support the University’s growth plans, including additional space for the Walton Library, further development and occupation of the Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms and a library style presence at Science Central.
SO2 Review and reconfigure space across the library estate to maximise provision of study space and services for all core customer groups, and to accommodate expanding collections, notably in Special Collections and Archives.
SO3 Develop student engagement activities to inform and support service planning and delivery
SO4 Develop more flexible models across all sites to ensure the delivery of consistent and high quality customer focussed services via both physical and virtual service points.
SO5 Work with NUIT to deliver high standards of customer support for the use of technologies and to develop innovative services and resources.
SO6 Work with Faculties to support new and emerging subjects and interdisciplinary teaching and research interests.
SO7 Identify and exploit new purchasing and delivery models for providing core course materials to students (e.g. e-text packages, digitisation on demand).
SO8 Develop a sustainable service model that better ensures the availability of key reading material to undergraduate and taught postgraduate students.
SO9 Develop new methods of support for digital and information literacy, and embed the development of these skills into the curriculum.
S010 Contribute to the development of coordinated academic skills support with complementary services (Writing Development Centre, Maths Aid and Student Welfare).
S011 Improve and develop library services to disabled students in light to changes to funding for individuals through the Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs). 
S012 Develop and refine new communications and marketing strategies for the full range of the Library’s users and stakeholders.
S013 Work with local and regional academic consortia, e.g. Northern Collaboration, to identify and exploit opportunities for shared services.
SP2 - To provide active and effective support to the University’s research and researchers
SO14 Develop a distinctive research support service to complement and underpin current liaison activities with Schools and Institutes.
S015 Contribute to the development of University policy on Open Access and manage OA publication services to improve the visibility and impact of research outputs.
SO16 Work with the University Research Office to ensure compliance with funder requirements for access to research outputs, particularly with regard to HEFCE, RCUK and COAF.
SO17 Influence and support new modes of publication for University research, including Open Access monographs.
SO18 Develop and deliver services for research data management (RDM) in collaboration with NU-IT and the University Research Office.
SO19 Contribute to the development and/or implementation of new central research management systems.
SO20 Ensure that the development of our research collections is responsive to new and developing research areas, seeking additional sources of funding where appropriate.
SO21 Provide support for university activities on research analytics: bibliometrics, altmetrics.
SO22 Work with local and regional academic consortia, e.g. N8 and the Northern Collaboration, to identify and explore shared services pertaining to research support.
SO23 Contribute to the development of the University’s digital preservation service, particularly in the light of developments in the Digital cultures and the growth of the Research Data Service.
SP3 To provide services for the International University in the UK and overseas
SO24 Develop, deliver and evaluate appropriate service models for educational partnership arrangements and overseas campuses.  
SO25 Support the implementation of, and develop services for, emerging research strategies at NU London and international campuses.
SO26 Work with colleagues in NUIT to develop authentication and access strategies for ensuring appropriate access to digitised materials and digital content for courses delivered  or accessed overseas
SO27 Work in partnership with Academic Schools to support the delivery of academic skills training for curricula delivered on international campuses.
SO28 Develop and refine library support for overseas students studying at the Newcastle campus (e.g .summer immersion programmes).
SO29 Develop a sustainable support model to meet the information and library support needs of NU London students.
SO30 Support international reputation building by developing the profile of the Library and its distinctive collections and services.
SP4 To develop, promote and exploit our unique and distinctive collections
SO31 Plan for the acquisition and cataloguing of strategically important collections in partnership with academic schools.
SO32 Accelerate cataloguing projects to aid discovery of unique and distinctive resources.
SO33 Enhance and promote research facilities for the effective use of Special Collections & Archives.
SO34 Develop and implement a digitisation strategy for archives and other distinctive materials to improve access to collections and address conservation needs.
SO35 Improve exhibition and engagement facilities and develop high-profile exhibition programmes to highlight collection strengths and attract new users.
SO36 Work with the PVC HASS to write a University-wide strategy to optimise the effective exploitation of Archives and Special Collections
SO37 Implement a strategic space plan for special collections and archives to ensure optimal storage of existing collections and capacity for acquisition of new collections.
SO38 Secure the staff resource needed to support the strategic development of Library’s Special Collections and Archives.
SO39 Extend and grow a successful bidding culture for external project funding for unique and distinctive collections.
SO40 Implement a Collection Development policy to augment existing collection strengths and support relevant University teaching and research interests.
SO41 Engage with and contribute to local, regional and national cultural events.
SO42 Develop and maintain strategic partnerships in the city and region to help promote our unique and distinctive collections to the widest possible audience.
SP5 To ensure efficiency, effectiveness and value for money in all our services and operations
SO43 Ensure value for money, efficiency and effective outcomes in the refurbishment and redevelopment of the Philip Robinson Library and the development of the upper floors of the Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms, temporary and long term additional space for the Walton Library and other learning spaces.
SO44 In collaboration with ESS, develop and implement plans for the consolidation of all Library and University stores, archives and special collections material.
SO45 Use and evaluate data provided by reference analytics to enhance quality and increase efficiencies of front-line enquiry services.
SO46 Improve intelligence on the use of the libraries and IT services using appropriate data sources.
SO47 Review, develop and implement strategies for engaging better with part-time and out-of-hours staff to improve training and development opportunities for these staff.
SO48 Review, develop and implement strategies for ensuring effective cross -communication between Library sites and across team working throughout the 24/7 period.
SO49 Identify and implement new ways to reduce cash handling in the Library’s services and operations.
SO50 Systematically review library processes and where appropriate, develop new or improved workflows.
SO51 Develop the critical use of KPIs and risk management in strategic and operational planning.
SO52 Embed throughout the service the new Library approach to evaluating the impact and effectiveness of training and development activities.

SWOT Analysis

  • The Library has a positive profile in the University, recognising the quality of its services and its sound and effective management
  • Student satisfaction ratings are very positive across all major surveys (NSS, ISB, PTES, PRES, Student Experience Survey)
  • Recent improvements to library space and facilities, and the introduction of the Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms, have been very successful and received strong support from students
  • We have a well established reputation for excellence in customer services, validated by successive Customer Service Excellence awards
  • Library staff are highly-motivated and engaged, as evidenced by the gold award from Investors in People (IiP) and responses to Employee Opinion Surveys
  • The Library has an innovative approach to service delivery, with recent developments in the use of social media, virtual enquiry services, live chat, desktop document delivery
  • Developments in digital library services have resulted in an effective web presence, integrated with new resource discovery tools and mobile access across services
  • 24/7 opening in term-time is embedded as a core provision and is well-received by students
  • The profile of Special Collections and Archives is developing rapidly with the acquisition of new collections, and improved consultation and exhibition facilities
  • The Library has effective working relationships with key partners, including LTDS, NUIT, ESS, and the University Research Office
  • Budget settlements over several years compromise the Library’s ability to meet the needs of researchers for new specialist resources, particularly where recurrent funding is required.
  • Historically low levels of expenditure on staff have inhibited the Library’s capacity to support growth
  • Lack of space to develop consultation, exhibition and storage facilities inhibits the development of archives and special collections
  • Dissatisfaction with text book provision has been expressed by taught students in some subjects, reflected in lower NSS and PTES scores
  • Lower levels of engagement with some Research Institutes affect academic credibility and the ability to support staff and researchers
  • Weaknesses in the availability, organisation and effective use of management information inhibits the Library’s ability to plan and develop services effectively
  • The further development of the Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms will enable the Library to provide additional and more varied library space in line with the growth in student numbers
  • The introduction of new technologies in teaching and learning, e.g. MOOCs, elearning platforms offer new modes of information delivery and engagement with academics and other partners
  • New publishing models, including new methods of peer review and alternative dissemination channels
  • Increasing interest from funders and regulators is accelerating the development of Open Access
  • Research funders are increasingly interested in data management, preservation and re-use of research data; introduction of new research management systems will enable the Library to play a greater role
  • The growth of digital cultures will require a new focus on Library support for researchers working in this area.
  • New collections and external funding opportunities will raise the profile and impact of Special Collections and Archives
  • Working with external partners in the cultural sector (e.g. Seven Stories) supports the University’s engagement agenda
  • The realignment of professional support services has brought bring new relationships and synergies with partners (LTDS, Student Services)
  • The implementation of a new Library management system (ALMA) offers scope for further efficiency gains in the acquisition and management of library materials
  • Opportunities for collaboration offer benefits for procurement and service development with partners in various groups (e.g. RLUK, Northern Collaboration)
  • Increased expectations from students for resources and services in an environment of high fees
  • Rapid growth in student numbers, with increased diversification in course delivery, has significant implications for medium and long-term space and resource planning
  • Continuing pressures on Library funding, including bequest income, impacting on the maintenance and development of collections and services
  • Increasing demands for specialist resources to support new and developing areas of research
  • Changing research environment, and working and communications patterns of academic staff, making engagement with researchers more challenging
  • Complexity and cost of developing and providing services and resources to overseas and remote campuses
  • Inconsistency in the provision and delivery of student services across 24/7 exposing the Library to expectations and demands that are difficult to meet
  • High levels of inflation,  exacerbated by currency weakness,  inflate the cost of print and electronic resources limiting capacity for investment in collection development
  • Publishers seeking to protect income and remaining intransigent in defence of “big deal” arrangements for e-content

Key Dependencies

A very large number of the Library’s objectives are predicated on effective collaboration with Schools and Institutes, in support of the University’s academic enterprise. Collaboration and improving the quality and depth of relationships with academic stakeholders and other service providers are among the Library’s strategic priorities. Strategic alignment and joint planning with ISS is particularly important in delivering integrated information services to the University.

The dependencies listed below are a selection of those which are most clearly aligned to specific objectives:

Counterparty Issues
NUIT Development and management of IT facilities in the libraries, integrated with PC cluster development across campus.
Support for students in use of IT facilities.
Research data management policy and services.
Rationalisation of location, virtualisation and management of servers.
Management of smartcard services, and print and copy services.
ESS Refurbishment and development of the libraries to support research and learning and to ensure the effective utilisation of space.
Infrastructure improvements in the libraries.
Maintenance and ongoing support for facilities.
University Research Office Development and support for research management systems; development of research data management policy.
Policy on Open Access publication and management of open access publication services.
LTDS Development of online teaching and learning support services.
NU Advancement Acquisition of external funds to develop facilities and services
Development of services to alumni
Accommodation and Hospitality Services Maintenance and delivery of cafe facilities in the Libraries

Jill Taylor-Roe, October 2017