Trinity library’s new five-year strategic plan is certainly a step in the right direction. According to Head Librarian Helen Shenton, the library hopes to become a digital entity in itself, moving beyond the simple digitisation of collections to create a strategy that encompasses the many disparate cultural, social, communal and academic communities within Trinity.
“Trinity has a history of innovation,” said Helen Shenton to The University Times following the release of the strategy, referring to Trinity’s spearheading of endeavours such as automating its catalogue and improving the way exhibitions are held. With this plan, the library will continue to develop its exhibitions, make facilities more accessible, enhance the facilities already in place, and implement new and more advanced technology.
Funding challenges have typically left Trinity at a disadvantage compared to other international academic institutions.
All of this is thoroughly commendable. Funding challenges have typically left Trinity at a disadvantage compared to other international academic institutions, but in this case it excels. With the intention to emulate and even surpass eminent universities internationally, Trinity will put its library on a competitive footing with libraries that have far more resources, students, and funding that they can employ.
If this strategy is enacted in the way that it is intended – and this is quite a big “if” as it may be too optimistic, since by their nature most five-year strategies are – then Trinity will reach a standard on par with top-ranked universities, such as Yale, Oxford and MIT. Digital strategy is a relatively new endeavour for these libraries too, but Trinity’s strategy would place it on equal footing with the strategies they have already laid out for the following years.
There’s no guarantee that saying such things will be done means that they actually will.
However, a new strategy shouldn’t cause complacency, as strategies are prone to do. It is, in effect, just a glorified to-do list for the library, and there’s no guarantee that saying such things will be done means that they actually will. Trinity’s five-year strategic plan from 2009 to 2014 met expectations in some areas, and fell drastically short in others. The library strategy could go the same way.
What’s clear is that both the potential and the motivation are there. If adhered to, the new strategy will propel Trinity’s library into a very digital, cutting-edge, 21st century reality. Both for current and prospective students, and for academics researching and working in Trinity, this envisioned future library would be a vital resource, dramatically enhancing the university’s research capability and its weight at an international level. Whether this will happen remains to be seen, but as a first step a cohesive and forward-thinking strategy is a must.