Academic and Public Library Insights from the 2023 American Library Association Conference
Attain Partners had the incredible opportunity to exhibit at the American Library Association (ALA) 2023 Conference in Chicago and speak with amazing librarians from all over the country. There are many challenges facing libraries right now—as we reflect, we want to highlight the overarching themes heard at the event and address how Attain Partners can help.
Our library experts work with academic, public, and school libraries to provide strategic directives that fit the environment and goals to highlight each library’s unique strengths. Attain Partners employs an iterative approach to strategic planning that emphasizes close collaboration between our library consultants and your team—with a focus on community engagement.
Themes from the ALA 2023 Conference
Highlighting Institutional Impact is Essential for Academic Libraries
In conversations with university librarians, we heard their primary challenges are funding and organizational management. Libraries are fighting harder than ever to maintain a budget to cover their staffing, services, and collections. The best way to advocate for your library is to have appropriate data that proves the library’s worth.
Attain Partners’ Library Planning and Strategy services experts help academic libraries determine the best advocacy path and facilitate a data collection project that proves the library’s impact to the institution. For example, if you are a research institution receiving federal grant money to perform funded research, one approach could be to prove how much the library supports the researchers on and off campus. In this case, we employ a combination of quantitative and qualitative data collection methods, including user surveys and interviews, to showcase the extent to which the library supports these endeavors. By comparing use to your library’s budget lines, we provide comprehensive data to help you advocate for the funding you need.
We are also experts in facilitating organizational reviews. Academic libraries are facing staffing shortages and a change in expectations for services provided.
Is your library effectively catering to the diverse needs of its patrons with the current staff? Given the overwhelming staffing needs, how do you prioritize the positions that require filling? Are there ways to move, consolidate, or redefine vacant positions to fit the roles your library truly needs?
Our consultants can perform a comprehensive organizational review—including your current state of operations, financial reviews, and patron use and needs—to address each of these concerns.
Strategic Planning Helps Public Libraries Better Serve Their Communities
A resounding theme we heard from public librarians at the 2023 ALA Annual Conference was the pressing need for strategic planning facilitation. Public libraries are facing massive staff shortages, budget concerns, collection management issues, and interruptions in services. Through these challenges, public libraries still need to meet their main goal—providing the services and materials their community needs.
Attain Partners consultants facilitate this process and take the burden off already overworked library staff. Our methodology incorporates stakeholder insights from the library’s users and staff members to prioritize realistic, measurable goals with recommended actions to achieve them. We strongly believe in getting to know your library’s community and hearing from on-the-ground staff who are deeply entwined with the community’s needs. By leveraging user surveys, town hall meetings, focus groups, and interview staff and users, our community-centric approach helps us obtain a holistic understanding of your library’s strategic needs and priorities.
Don’t have time for a full strategic plan engagement? We are equipped to support smaller strategic initiatives as well, such as collection management and development, organizational reviews, and financial reviews. Attain Partners’ library consultants are librarians—we have long histories working in both academic and public library capacities. We understand the challenges libraries are facing, the aspirations we all have for serving our communities, and the importance of relevant goals to help highlight the impact you make on your community.
Attain Partners – Library Experts
With another ALA Conference in the books, we’ve heard the pain points, strategic objectives, and long-term goals shared among so many librarians—and we’re ready to help. With our firsthand knowledge of the library landscape, we are well-equipped to help address the unique challenges facing your library and empower you with the data-driven insights to move forward.
At Attain Partners, we fuse our deep understanding of library structures and programs with our consultative expertise to strengthen library systems using proven evaluation and assessment methods. We have extensive experience assisting colleges and universities with the optimization of overhead cost recovery related to library expenses that support sponsored grants and contracts, and we collaborate with our strategic planning, grants management, and F&A teams to provide a uniquely thorough approach to library consulting.
Contact us today to set up a meeting to discuss your library’s specific needs!
About the Author
Ms. Blake Norby is a Senior Library Consultant for the Research Enterprise Services practice of Attain Partners. During her time with Attain Partners, Ms. Norby has been involved in multiple library consulting projects with higher education institutions. She has participated in various stages of Facilities & Administrative Expense (F&A) strategic planning, proposal preparation and submission, and space functional usage studies with a focus on library spaces. Ms. Norby brings over 13 years’ experience working in libraries with extensive knowledge of using patron data to create inclusive, accessible library spaces and programs. She is currently a member of the American Evaluation Association (AEA), the American Library Association (ALA) including the Public Library Association, and several additional roundtables and special interest groups.
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