Thank You to the UAB Community

Over the course of the last year, UAB has undertaken a review of its library organizations. We initially worked with consultants from Huron Education to review the current organization and operations at Lister Hill and Sterne Libraries. Based on Huron’s findings, the University sought to evaluate the concept of a single library organization serving the entire campus. In order to assess this possibility, Huron conducted focus groups with faculty, students, and library faculty and staff to identify the potential benefits, challenges, and concerns related to such an organizational change. In all, over 120 members of the UAB community participated in these focus groups.

Our sincerest thanks go out to all of those who have participated in the project up to this point. Your honest and informed input helped shape the course of this effort, provided critical insight for the final decision, and supplied valuable advice for how UAB’s libraries can best move forward to better serve the campus and community.

After reviewing the focus groups’ findings, and in discussion with President Watts and Provost Lucas, we have elected to move forward with the creation of a single library organization to serve the entirety of UAB. Both libraries will remain, but library faculty and staff will ultimately report to a single Dean of Libraries. A national search, chaired by Vice Provost Austin, will commence in the coming weeks to identify the leader of the new organization. Concurrent with the search, a libraries steering committee, chaired by Vice Provost Austin and with the leadership of Directors Stephens and Plutchak, will explore several immediate opportunities to enhance the libraries’ ability to serve their respective patrons.

There are several reasons for this change. First and foremost is the opportunity to serve the UAB community better. The combined resources of Sterne and Lister Hill Libraries will be able to provide seamlessly the services that are most important to our faculty and students. Closely related to service improvement is the opportunity to manage more effectively the libraries’ resources. The combined organization will recognize efficiencies in operations that will allow the libraries to shift more resources toward its collections and new user services. 

With the ongoing evolution of information, the increasing prevalence of electronic resources, the changing environment of academic publishing and the growing need for new services such as “big data” management, university libraries must constantly seek to change. A single organization will be more focused and better positioned to adapt to the ever-changing library landscape. At the same time, focusing on the future should not mean de-prioritizing the treasures of our past. A unified library organization will help UAB better maintain our physical collections and continue to showcase our special collections to an ever-greater audience.

This is an exciting time for our University and its libraries. We will continue to rely on your input to inform the future of UAB Libraries throughout this process. Please contact us with your thoughts and suggestions as we move forward.

With many thanks,
Suzanne Austin   
Vice Provost for Student and Faculty

Jerry Stephens       
Librarian and Director, Mervyn H. Sterne Library

Scott Plutchak
Director, Lister Hill Library