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ODU Libraries Strategic Plan, 2023-2028

Learn about the Libraries' 5-year plan and our related accomplishments!

SWOT Analysis

Using the Activity and Competitive Environment analyses, the leadership team, again with input from Libraries staff, completed an analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT). The analysis found that the Libraries possess unique expertise in key areas that can be activated and applied to support and advise faculty and students in their teaching, learning, and research. These areas of expertise include teaching information literacy and critical appraisal*, information organization, scholarly publishing, and open access. ODU’s new Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) provides a direct link between library expertise and larger University goals for student success. The QEP “is intended to address information fluency by increasing students' ability to read critically. Information fluency is the ability to interpret, communicate, problem-solve, and create across a variety of situations in a media-rich, data-driven, global information ecosystem.”5 Other strengths were a strong record of partnerships and collaboration, a sense of place and community, and unique and notable collections including Special Collections and University Archives, digital collections and Digital Commons, and electronic resources. The SWOT Analysis identified the following areas as weaknesses:  an unwieldy organizational structure and underdeveloped infrastructure; outdated physical facilities and technology; lack of effective user assessment in many areas of the operation; and inadequate financial and staffing resources compared to academic libraries at similar institutions. 

Financial resources deserve special mention, as this is the item most frequently cited by Libraries’ staff as an organizational weakness. Across the academic publishing landscape, inflation for academic resources consistently outpaces normal inflation, and rampant consolidation in the publishing industry creates further power imbalances in customer/supplier relationships and leads to higher prices for academic libraries. When combined with a flat library materials budget for a decade or more, this amounts to a de facto budget cut and reduced buying power each year. A significant increase in financial support from the institution is unlikely, so ODU Libraries staff have become experts at economizing and reallocating resources. Similarly, the Libraries have no dedicated Gift Officer with Office of University Advancement, nor do we have a strong record of effective fundraising. While Libraries leadership will continue to advocate with University administration and develop fundraising initiatives in cooperation with the Office of University Advancement, this Strategic Plan makes no assumption that additional resources will be forthcoming over the life of the plan. The table on this page summarizes the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats identified in the SWOT Analysis.


* For a discussion of the term “critical appraisal” and its application in STEM disciplines, see Mercer, et al. (2020) “Critical appraisal: The key to unlocking information literacy in the STEM disciplines,” College and Research Libraries News, 81:3. 

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