Hubs and centers as transitional change strategy for library collaboration
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Libraries of science and technology universities worldwide are adapting to a changing environment where cyberinfrastructure, eResearch, and new technology-intensive approaches to teaching and learning are transforming the very nature of universities. While many have adopted new technologies and the resources and expertise to manage them, this is only an initial step. Libraries are experimenting with organizational models that will transform their work capacity and expertise. The goal of these libraries is being an entity that feeds and produces collaborative synergies between faculty, students, information professionals, and technologists. Virginia Tech, among the top research universities in the United States, and its constituent libraries are adopting a unique organizational change strategy that implements eScience and cyberlearning roles. This two-part strategy begins with establishing ‘hubs’. The hubs are collaborative, crossdepartmental groups in which library employees of varying backgrounds and skills come together on common themes of strategic importance. The hubs act in one sense as a ‘research & development lab’ to explore, imagine, and brainstorm new library initiatives as well as engender deeper understandings of the university’s core academic enterprise. They also are a ‘strike force’ that implements, supports, and assesses emerging library roles in relation to the institution’s academic mission. In these ways, hubs also create learning and scholarship opportunities for their participants beyond the individual task-oriented projects. The second part of this strategy involves the establishment of research and service centers. At Virginia Tech, these are the Center for Innovation in Learning (CIL) and the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS). These centers are designed to incubate and sustain new collaborative synergies between libraries, researchers, instructors, and learners by providing expertise, resources, and new infrastructures to address specific academic research-based needs. The centers become focal points for library action, focused on learning and research activities within other university entities. Benefits to library employees come in the form of scholarship and research with potential for collaboration and new initiatives as relationships grow among project participants. The authors will discuss transformational aspects of the change management model, with lessons from their early experiences. They also will discuss how the model can be adapted by other libraries of science and technology-centered universities.