Libraries Strategic Plan 2017-2020


Western Michigan University Libraries is committed to a user-centered approach in all aspects of its programs and services, designing for the needs of its community in both the physical and online environments. While recognizing that we serve a global community with our extensive resources and digital collections, for the purposes of this strategic plan, the primary focus of the goals and strategies is serving the needs of Western Michigan University students, faculty, and staff.


The University Libraries empowers its community to discover, explore, and shape the information universe.


The University Libraries is innovative, responsive and recognized as vital to the research, creative, and academic pursuits of WMU and the global community.

Goal 1: Make the user experience central to the design and delivery of all services

Objective 1.A: Investigate our users’ library service experience and devise a plan for improvement

Strategy 1: Design a data gathering process to understand how various user groups experience library services via investigative techniques, such as ethnographic studies, observation, focus groups, and advisory groups
Strategy 2: Analyze data and report findings to stakeholders
Strategy 3: Develop an implementation plan for improving library services based upon the evidence gathered
Strategy 4: Employ benchmarks to measure performance and quality of services

Objective 1.B: Evaluate whether existing services continue to meet current needs of our community and make necessary changes based on findings

Strategy 1: Review how service points are supporting user needs, employing techniques such as blueprinting services and using Secret Shoppers
Strategy 2: Analyze current reference and research consultation practices to identify opportunities to expand the reach and effectiveness of the service
Strategy 3: Identify redundancies and streamline services based on findings

Objective 1.C: Develop a library-wide philosophy and definition of customer service and empower all employees to create a culture of great service and continuous improvement

Strategy 1: Develop, communicate, and implement a standard of quality customer service across all library locations
Strategy 2: Develop materials used to orient all new library employees, including students and regardless of classification
Strategy 3: Establish a sustainable library-wide student employee customer service training program
Strategy 4: Identify resources needed to sustain high-quality user experience and customer service

Goal 2: Develop intentionally designed physical spaces that adapt to users’ diverse needs, stimulate collaboration and knowledge creation, and support student success and engagement

Objective 2.A: Study current space use and activities to inform a plan for more effective use in the future

Strategy 1: Conduct self-study and gather feedback on uses and space issues including traffic, noise levels, technology, furnishings, appearance and comfort, in both public and staff areas
Strategy 2: Design inclusive physical spaces that provide a welcoming and barrier-free environment for a diverse population
Strategy 3: Develop and communicate a viable timeline for making needed changes
Strategy 4: Implement changes to improve overall functionality of space

Objective 2.B: Target areas within the Waldo Library to improve functionality and clarify their purpose for users

Strategy 1: Improve wayfinding and signage to make the facility more navigable and collections more discoverable
Strategy 2: Create more clearly-defined quiet study areas
Strategy 3: Modernize library furnishings and technology
Strategy 4: Enhance and expand areas for group study

Objective 2.C: Develop long-term plans to renovate outdated spaces and align with expectations for modern research libraries

Strategy 1: Define a vision for a new Waldo library facility
Strategy 2: Work with University Facilities, OIT, Student Services and an architectural firm to design a new multi-use facility that includes a renovated Waldo Library
Strategy 3: Collaborate with the College of Fine Arts to develop a vision and plan to refresh the Maybee Music and Dance Library
Strategy 4: Explore demands on the Zhang Legacy Collections Center and Swain Education Library and create a plan to keep facilities relevant and responsive to user needs

Goal 3: Design and implement an intuitive, user-friendly online library experience that promotes discovery and learning

Objective 3.A: Complete and implement the current redesign of the University Libraries website

Strategy 1: Update wireframe to improve website navigation and optimization for mobile devices
Strategy 2: Update infrastructure and process for creating content and publishing it to the website
Strategy 3: Identify, transfer, and create content for inclusion in the Content Management System (CMS)

Objective 3.B: Develop a philosophy and strategy for designing and managing an integrated online presence for the Libraries

Strategy 1: Define target audiences and scope for each part of the Libraries’ online presence, including LibGuides, E-learning, Social Media, and GoWMU Widget
Strategy 2: Develop a clear content strategy for each part of the Libraries’ online presence
Strategy 3: Identify staff expertise needed to continually plan for and manage a modern, interactive, and dynamic online presence
Strategy 4: Identify ways to take full advantage of the new CMS design templates and other modalities in the University Libraries online presence to effectively promote library resources and services

Objective 3.C: Plan for regular assessment of the University Libraries online presence to better meet our users’ needs

Strategy 1: Develop a procedure and schedule for conducting usability testing on entire Libraries online presence and for regularly incorporating feedback from testing in future iterations of these interfaces
Strategy 2: Evaluate all aspects of the Libraries online presence to ensure adherence to ADA standards for accessibility
Strategy 3: Use available analytics tools to track usage of the Libraries online presence and make decisions to improve and revise based on data

Goal 4: Create innovative library programming responsive to University needs

Objective 4.A: Build upon our strengths to empower faculty, students, and staff to realize their research and teaching goals

Strategy 1: Engage with our community to learn their aspirations and goals
Strategy 2: Develop strategic partnerships around shared initiatives
Strategy 3: Connect programs and initiatives with relevant collections, individuals, and services
Strategy 4: Curate events and exhibits that showcase existing strengths within the Libraries and the University

Objective 4.B: Develop programming to support faculty and students understanding of current and evolving models of scholarly communications

Strategy 1: Develop resources to support faculty understanding of open education resources and create tools to assist faculty in finding and evaluating these resources for classroom use
Strategy 2: Develop programming that educates the community about copyright, author rights, open access, and other issues related to scholarly publishing
Strategy 3: Maximize features of the Institutional Repository to enhance the university’s reach
Strategy 4: Articulate a plan for a research data services program

Objective 4.C: Define the scope and priorities for the libraries’ digitization program

Strategy 1: Assess current activities and impact of the libraries’ digitization effort
Strategy 2: Develop a strategic plan for library digitization
Strategy 3: Continue to participate as a member of the Michigan Digital Public Library of America Sub-Hub

Objective 4.D: Build a sustainable information literacy program that reaches students at all levels, from first-year through graduate education

Strategy 1: Develop metrics to assess student learning of information literacy concepts at the program level
Strategy 2: Work with faculty and academic departments to integrate information literacy concepts into the new General Education curriculum, expected to begin implementation in Fall 2018
Strategy 3: Increase percentage of students receiving information literacy instruction through Baccalaureate-level writing courses
Strategy 4: Partner with the Office of Faculty Development to provide workshops on information literacy for instructors
Strategy 5: Develop an outreach plan to support the specific needs of graduate students, as both students and instructors

Goal 5: Reorient the Libraries’ organizational structure to better align with our mission and vision, and foster a user experience culture

Objective 5.A: Analyze current organizational structure and identify opportunities to transform work processes, build efficiencies, and realign human resources to focus on strategic priorities and more effective ways of working

Strategy 1: Examine services and activities and identify redundancies, outdated processes, and areas where combining services and activities will enhance service excellence
Strategy 2: Review and update all staff and faculty position descriptions to reflect current practices and needs of the organization
Strategy 3: Develop a plan to transition to the new organizational structure and have new structure in place by Fall 2017

Objective 5.B: Strengthen our investment in personnel and foster a goal-oriented organizational culture that values excellence and encourages collaboration

Strategy 1: Develop and invest in building staff expertise to support strategic priorities
Strategy 2: Identify human resources gaps and recruit talent to strengthen the libraries’ ability to meet emerging needs
Strategy 3: Increase the diversity of faculty, staff, and student employees through culturally unbiased and inclusive hiring efforts
Strategy 4: Encourage and reward innovation
Strategy 5: Review and update policies and procedures to ensure consistency across all libraries and departments

Objective 5.C: Improve and standardize internal communication

Strategy 1: Enhance mechanisms for sharing information used for managing internal communication by cleaning up files and restructuring network spaces
Strategy 2: Coordinate various internal communications to improve awareness of what is happening across the Libraries
Strategy 3: Standardize channels for documentation of policies and procedures and communication of timely information