OUR SIX ASPIRATIONAL QUALITIES: openness, curation, creation, community, catalyst, knowledge

January 29, 2014, 6:26 pm

Last summer I posted about our aspirational identity project. We started with a long list of words and explored many concepts. We wrapped that up just before winter break and officially launched yesterday.

This is what we came up with:

We design pathways to information, access, ideas, and discovery.

We partner with people to produce, disseminate, preserve, and use information and data.

We enable people to design, make, and express their ideas.

We bring people, ideas, and resources together.

We ignite people’s curiosity and sense of possibility.

We stimulate creative, cultural, social, and intellectual endeavors.

Obviously these are very broad—that was our intention. We wanted to keep one hand in the past (ideals of librarianship) while stretching the other hand out toward the future. The qualities are all very deliberately open-ended. Take Openness – it could mean Open Access, Open Data, or Open Education, but it also captures the notion that we are a land-grant university and open to the public—or that we support (and use) open source software—or just the general attitude of opening pathways of access to resources and expertise.

The quality we struggled with the most was Creation. The concept resonated but the wording was tricky: we kept running into religious implications. We liked the knowledge production, idea production, and creativity threads, but that’s hard to express as a broad quality. Creation works best with what we are trying to say. It’s something that works for Engineering as well as the English Department

We created a booklet to stimulate internal conversation. Unfortunately I can’t post it publicly (long story) but here are two pages that capture the essence.

qualities openness

We intentionally avoided imagery of books, personal technology, or learning spaces. Instead we kept it very abstract and tried to express a mood.

Next we’ll develop these qualities further and build stories around each of them. Our aim is to have a public version that we can launch campus-wide in the fall. This gives us a platform for reintroducing the Library and its role today.


During this process we also updated our mission and vision statements to better reflect the strategic direction of our University. If you’re into that sort of thing, here you go:

We enable people to cultivate ideas, develop capacities, and create knowledge. Users do this through the University Libraries’ provision of collections, expertise, services, and environments.

We aspire to transform the way people experience knowledge.

We do this by providing new ways to discover, access, create, sustain, and share information. The Libraries aim to advance learning and research by enabling new types of questions to be asked, new forms of scholarship to be produced, and previously unimaginable problems or solutions to be explored.

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