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The challenges of strategic planning in academic libraries

Sarah McNicol (Evidence Base, Research and Evaluation, University of Central England, Birmingham, UK)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 1 November 2005




This paper reports on the findings of the HEFCE‐funded outcomes project which aimed to investigate strategic planning in UK academic libraries.


The research consisted of a literature and documentation review, followed by interviews with academic library directors and senior institutional managers. There was also a survey of all UK HE libraries.


The key issues which need to be addressed by academic libraries in terms of strategic planning are: the involvement of library staff; communication of library aims and plans externally; level of active involvement in institutional and departmental planning; evaluation and target setting; and involvement in more “difficult” institutional aims such as income generation and widening participation.

Research limitation/implications

The response to the various activities of this research project indicate the lack of interest in outcomes assessment within the academic library sector. There is little rigorous evidence in this area to inform library professionals.

Practical implications

The lack of interest in outcomes assessment with the sector is worrying; there is a general view of libraries as essential part of higher education and do not need to demonstrate how they contribute to institutional aims. This may leave libraries in a vulnerable position.


The paper reports on an issue which should be of great concern to the academic library sector, especially in the light of the proposal to axe professional posts at the University of Wales, Bangor library.



McNicol, S. (2005), "The challenges of strategic planning in academic libraries", New Library World, Vol. 106 No. 11/12, pp. 496-509.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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