Planning and Partnerships: Strategic Initiatives

Dee Magnoni of the Olin College of Engineering was the speaker for this session. I was interested in this session because it has become very clear to me that in order to thrive we need to establish partnerships with many groups. While it’s not in my job description, I believe that part of my job will be to help establish and maintain different partnerships as my role evolves. I was looking for some pointers and general information about partnerships from this session. This was a good session but I missed a lot because I was busy taking notes. I wish I could have gotten everything she said down. I think I’ve got the main points below. I’ll fill it in as I find more. (Here are some notes by Julian)

Olin sounds like a pretty nice school. I think I heard her say that all the kids get a scholarship…maybe I should look into that. My girls would make good engineers 😉

She posed a question early in the presentation that I don’t know the answer to so I’ll have to ask my boss. The question was “Are partnerships written into our strategic plan?” (I have not seen our strategic plan – we do have one right?)

She outlined four different types of partnerships for libraries:

  • Other libraries
  • Vendors
  • Customers
  • Internal partners

Why partner?

  • To help us obtain a more global mindset
  • To encourage us to think strategically
  • Innovate
  • Efficiencies

Her partnership
She wanted to create an external library advisory board. The goal was to keep the library new and innovative. She was able to get a good cross section of people (vendors, alumni, other librarians etc.) Some things she learned to keep in mind when considering who to ask to be part of the board were:

  • geography
  • diversity
  • existing relationships
  • new relationships
  • balance of expertise
  • win-win relationships

They have meetings twice a year (I think) where they update library initiatives and discuss events that impact the library. During their meetings they also discuss different partnerships and the library’s strategic plan. They are encouraged to think beyond the budget and look for future directions for the library. She has found the advisory board to be be a great experience for everyone. The library has been able to benefit from a network of experts they didn’t have before and has gained new wisdom from this group of people.

Vendor partnering

  • Think win-win
  • Training
  • Prizes and materials
  • Snacks during finals
  • Industry advice and mentoring

She had a vendor fair (coincided with talk like a pirate day) where different vendors came to the library to help educate the students about their databases. She planned for it 6 months in advance and put a lot of time into it. It was a very successful event. This was a win for the students because they learned more about the library’s databases and how to better use them. It was a win for the vendors because more students will use their databases and the library will be more likely to keep them when the subscription runs out.


The library at Olin and Analog Devices have created a productive partnership. I’m not sure how it got stated but she mentioned that Analog provided the library with some equipment when they were getting started. As a result the library gives Analog employees a library card and lets them use the library just lie the students. This has opened up many opportunities for mentoring and internships which benefit the students and the company.

She discussed some of her local partnerships and how she has been able to travel around looking at examples of different partnerships. I couldn’t get much of that down because I was too busy listening. One of the points I remember is that vendors are more than willing to work with you to create goals they will help you with. Another was that collection development is a type of low hanging fruit when it comes to local partnerships. It may be beneficial to work with a local library to coordinate different collections so the libraries complement each other. Each library can save money and focus on a specific area of collection. That creates a better collection of resources for the community.

What is success?

  • Must be tied to your strategic plan/goals
  • Must make all parties stronger/better
  • As fun as possible

Lessons learned

  • Should have a lot of voices involved – from all sides
  • Get as many people in the tent as possible
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate
  • Time – some things can be quick some not
  • Outside organizations can be useful

I enjoyed this session and wish I could have gotten everything. She obviously has worked hard at creating and maintaining partnerships the benefit her library.

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