New Law Library Strategic Plan

August 3, 2010

 The Lillian Goldman Law Library in memory of Sol Goldman at Yale Law School has just finished its new strategic plan.

Below Law Library Director Blair Kauffman introduces the strategic plan:

This is an exciting time of change in libraries, and it’s a time in which Yale is seizing opportunities to maintain its leadership role.   To this end we recently released the library’s new strategic plan.  This is a document that articulates a direction for the library to follow over the next 3- 5 years, and I commend it to anyone who’s interested in the future of libraries in the digital age.

This is the third strategic plan the Yale Law Library has adopted over the past decade. Our prior plans helped steer us in important and innovative ways.  For example, our earlier plans led us to redefine our public services and add an instructional services component to our reference department. They also led us to make the library a more active partner in the Yale Law School’s pulsating intellectual culture, so that we now sponsor a film series where graduate students select films for discussion about foreign cultures, a faculty scholarship series where faculty members discuss recent scholarship interests and a new book talk series where faculty and students talk about recently published books.  Practice makes perfect, and our newest strategic plan promises to be the best one yet.   This plan was drafted over the course of the past year by our strategic planning task force and reflects the input of Yale Law School faculty, students and staff. 

A standard starting point for strategic planning is to initiate a SWOT analysis, looking at the institution’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  Without delving into each of these, it’s worth noting that the Yale Law Library’s strengths are enviously substantial: First, we have the best team of library staff ever assembled here.  These include some of the very best people in every field of librarianship, from library acquisitions, cataloging, systems and rare books, to reference and instructional services and foreign and international law.  This is hugely important, because these are the experts who provide access to our information resources.   Second, we have access to an array of information resources that are literally mind blowing, ranging from historically rich special collections of print materials, including a 50,000 volume rare book collection and a 250,000 volume foreign and international law collection to contemporary collections focused on law and the social sciences.  These are supplemented by access to an ever more amazing array of online and digital materials, as well as the very rich collections of the other Yale University libraries. And lastly, we draw on the support and continuing generousity of the Law School and the library’s own dedicated endowments, which exceed the endowments of all but one or two law school libraries in the world.

The threats faced by so many libraries today do not appear to be the same for Yale.   Economic hardship has led to what appears to be a race to the bottom in terms of support for libraries at too many law schools.  There is a common misapprehension among some academic administrators that libraries are no longer important in the current digital age, despite all the evidence to the contrary, including the increase in library use by the current born digital generation of law students and the ever increasing complexity in navigating the maze of information resources made available in multiple formats.  Fortunately, Yale Law School is different in this respect.  Faculty and students here are deeply engaged in scholarship which requires library support, and in turn, the Law School supports the library, so that they have helped the library make up for a short fall in its endowment income by supplementing the library’s budget from other Law School revenues.   This has enabled us to view the current economic downturn as an opportunity for re-envisioning what we do; thus, we’ve cut out activities and programs that no longer make sense and are aggressively seeking to continue building and developing our staff, collections and services to be an even better library in the second decade of the 21st century.   To learn more about how we plan as we continue to move forward, take a look at our strategic plan and let us know what you think. 

In the video below, Blair and I discuss the new strategic plan as well:

Blair Kauffman talks about Yale Law Library Strategic Plan from Yale Law Librarians on Vimeo.

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