DePaul University (Chicago) Librarian Scott Walter remembers what he was thinking when he heard ALA President Julie Todaro announce her “expert in the library” focus for the Libraries Transform campaign, “It struck me as a perfect platform for deepening academic library engagement.”
Around the same time, Walter’s colleague, Ashley McMullin, assessment and marketing librarian at DePaul, and her team were working on a plan to share more information about librarians with the campus through a new initiative called “library spotlights,” which shows how individual librarians are transforming the university. After learning about the Libraries Transform’s “expert in the library” theme, Walter asked McMullin to combine these ideas together in a campaign to highlight the expertise of academic librarians and all they bring to the DePaul community.
“Ashley and her team identified specific areas of the academic mission that may be transformed through the expertise of professional library staff,” says Walter. “It included the ways in which libraries transform teaching, scholarship and community engagement on campus."
In addition to creating the “library spotlights,” McMullin and her colleagues crowdsourced ideas from the school’s staff for new “Because” statements to reflect their academic library environment. The new statements include “Because it’s hard to study when your roommate is having a late-night dance party,” “Because those primary sources aren’t going to cite themselves,” “Because your computer keeps crashing and that paper is due tomorrow” and “Because it’s going to take more than Google searching to impress your boss.”
According to Walter, the feedback from faculty colleagues and senior leadership has been positive, and they say they have learned something about what librarians do for DePaul. Walter adds, “We will certainly continue to use Libraries Transform, especially as the ‘expert in the library’ focus is very consistent with the message we continually promote across campus regarding librarian expertise and the value of libraries and librarians to the academic mission. The approach we’ve taken of highlighting individuals and the way their expertise has benefited the DePaul community is one that I think has real meaning for our staff and for our community members.”
Walter says there was an unexpected but welcoming opportunity resulting from the library’s campaign, “Our Office of Public Relations and Communications offered to include librarians in an ongoing feature called ‘DePaul World Ready,’ which highlights how individual faculty members – and, now, librarians – contribute to preparing DePaul graduates for success in a changing and challenging global workplace. The fact that librarians are important in this university initiative was a point I had been trying to make for some time, but being able to point to the profiles we developed as part of Libraries Transform was crucial to making the case.”
Walter continues, “There has been real engagement among our staff with the idea of adapting the Libraries Transform message to our local environment. The ideas staff members contributed for the ‘Because’ statements reflect our distinctive mission as an urban, inclusive and teaching-centered institution. Staff and members of the DePaul community seemed to appreciate learning more about the ways in which individual librarians are contributing to the strategic goals of the library and the university.”