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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Reflections on how we're doing
Article Type: Editorial From: Reference Services Review, Volume 36, Issue 4
When Ed Koch was mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989, his catch-phrase was “How’m I doing?”. When walking down the street, he would often use that question as a greeting to the people he met.
The Mayor’s favorite object-oriented question no doubt resonates with many of our readers. In these times, for librarians in all types of libraries – for reference and instruction librarians at the front lines, and for administrators, documenting our progress, demonstrating our effectiveness, showing how we’re doing, is critically important.
Like it or not, we’re asking these questions more and more often in libraries. We’re asking questions like: how can we remain relevant in a digital world full of options? We’re concerned with our progress towards strategic goals and associated objectives. We are mindful that working consistently to achieve the goals of our strategic plans, or any other formal plan, requires not only actively monitoring, improving, and updating these plans, but also systematically measuring the success of our efforts. Towards this end, the development of specific work plans against which we can track and measure our results, constitutes one way we can see just how we’re doing.
Like it or not, our stakeholders are also asking these very questions. They’re asking questions like: What value do libraries add to our institutions? To our communities? What difference do library services make in our users’ lives? Can we do without? With less? With, say, 90 percent vs 100 percent? 80 percent vs 100 percent?
And, like it or not, our users are also asking these very questions. They’re asking questions like: What’s the chance that a reference librarian will really understand my information needs? Will he really be able to help me? Is it worth my time to attend this or that instructional program? Can’t I get better assistance online? Besides, the library isn’t open 24/7 yet, is it?
Unfortunately, the simple question “How’m I doing?” – or more importantly “How’re we doing?” is not so simple to answer. Our ability to remain relevant – to our stakeholders, certainly, and to our users most importantly – is key, we believe, to doing well.
This issue of RSR features the annual select bibliography of recent resources on library instruction and information literacy side by side with select papers from the 2008 LOEX of the West Conference. Staying abreast of current scholarship on library instruction and information literacy enables readers to enrich their reference knowledge and, in turn, advance reference and instructional services in their libraries. We further suggest that the design and delivery of quality reference and instructional services are two means by which we can remain relevant in a digital world full of options.
This editorial only begins to scratch the surface of some very complex issues. In closing we offer our readers something further to think about – an example of one library’s articulation of the challenges they face in these times. Here, we commend Dean Lori Goetsch and her staff at Kansas State University Libraries for the mission, vision and values which frame their Strategic Plan, reproduced for our readers’ convenience below. Goetsch is Vice President, President elect of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL). Through this type of articulation, the library staff, and its stakeholders and users, establish the core attributes that will guide their programs and practices, and by which they can assess how they are doing.
Kansas State University
K-State Libraries strategic plan 
Our mission. We guide our community in its quest for intellectual discovery and lifelong learning. We advance the creation, sharing, and preservation of knowledge at Kansas State University.
Our vision. We aspire to be a leading intellectual and learning environment that anticipates and creatively fulfills the needs of our communities by funding, acquiring, and organizing a diverse array of resources and providing personalized expert assistance. We will be the answer to the question of why libraries remain relevant in a digital world full of options.
We value intellectual freedom. We respect and protect the right to explore all points of view and the right to privacy.
We value the many communities we serve. We encourage interactions with a broad spectrum of individuals and groups and treat all people with respect, dignity and courtesy.
We value contributions and ideas from all individuals. We consider many viewpoints before making decisions and encourage creativity and innovation.
We value responsible resource management. We spend our money wisely and in ways that afford the broadest benefit to our communities.
We value learning. We create an environment that promotes ongoing learning for ourselves and our communities.
We care (and go the extra mile).
www.lib.k-state.edu/geninfo/plan/ (accessed August 9, 2008)