St. Olaf Libraries


The St. Olaf Libraries are committed to maintaining our collections, services, and facilities to meet the evolving challenges faced by 21st-century learners. The Libraries have adopted seven principles that will help guide this work during the upcoming years. These principles reflect both our long-standing commitment to excellence in our collections, the services we provide, and the quality of our staff, as well as demonstrate our commitment to continuous improvement and adoption of new research methods, technologies, and work processes.

The St. Olaf College Libraries Guiding Principles:

  • We provide the appropriate balance of physical and digital collections to support our liberal arts curriculum.
  • We protect and preserve our unique collections, while making them accessible to our community and scholars worldwide.
  • We promote discoverability of our own collections, and those of libraries worldwide.
  • We partner with faculty to produce graduates with the information literacy skills to foster lifelong learning.
  • We lead in effective uses of digital resources and technologies for teaching and learning.
  • We provide flexible library spaces that promote academic study, reflection, creativity, and social interactions.
  • We stay current in our fields and actively engage in collaboration, both on- and off-campus.

The current goals and objectives for each principle are below. Specific action items can be found in the individual reports submitted by each task force.

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The St. Olaf Libraries have done considerable work in the past five years to ensure that adequate coverage is provided across all areas of the curriculum. We have increased holdings and research tools for the members of the science and music communities, as well as the social sciences and fine arts. The libraries have also begun the implementation of a very basic approval plan, changed to an electronic preferred format for journals, and have expanded monograph access exponentially with an aggressive e-book buying program. Our work reflects collection management at St. Olaf College Libraries, and has not reflected the broad array of materials available as a result of our participation in the Bridge Consortium with Carleton College. We need to consider the strategic creation of balanced collections in chorus with our partner Carleton College and should create a visionary statement for Bridge Collection Development that is reflective of the community we are today and the community we would like to become in the next few years.

  • Develop a means to measure and assessment the current opportunities and challenges.
  • Request the Bridge Collection Management Working Group (CMWG) to take on a project to consider how we perceive our Bridge collections and our libraries today given we retired the phrase “two collections that function as one; who are the members of “our community;” and what does “collaborative collection development” really mean.
  • Articulate a statement to serve as a starting point for the Bridge collection work.
  • With Carleton College Library develop an overarching Bridge vision statement.

Download Complete Task Force Report


Over the past three years, St. Olaf College Libraries have done extensive work to identify, appraise, organize, and document our Special Collections. The libraries have worked to segregate these items into discrete collections, identified thousands of additional Nordic- American imprints remaining in the general circulating collection and moved them to special collections, taken important initial steps toward the digital preservation of the Norwegian Newspaper collection, strengthened our partnership with the NAHA Archive, the Shaw Center for College History and Archives and the Hong Kierkegaard Library and formed a new Heritage Advisory Group. Our definition of “unique collections” is not meant to imply that individual items in the collections are bibliographically unique. Instead, we define uniqueness at the collection- level, and at the present time, focus on those collections that carry particular weight in St. Olaf College’s heritage as a Norwegian-immigrant, Lutheran, liberal arts community.

  • Develop a comprehensive risk-assessment of the current collections, including condition, location/housing, etc.
  • Develop an intentional plan and budget for outsourcing the digitization of the Norwegian- American Newspapers, and other portions of the Nordic American Imprints collection.
  • Work to establish the feasibility of taking on physical and intellectual access management of the Hong Kierkegaard Library collection.
  • Begin segregation and assessment, and establish a plan for cataloging heritage periodicals.
  • Plan and implement a community-wide education and outreach campaign about the existence and importance of the Nordic-American Imprints and other historic materials in St. Olaf College’s Special Collections.

Download Complete Task Force Report


As our collections and research needs continue their long course of change, the libraries need to think strategically about how to meet the discovery requirements of our users, whether they are developing a bibliography for a term paper, researching local history, preparing for a semester abroad, or any other of the broadening range of requests we hear each day from faculty, students, staff, and guests. We seek to implement better processes for finding known items (whether we own them as part of our collections or not) and to enhance their research process when investigating ideas and concepts.

  • Give preference to flexibility for searching, retrieving and cataloging data when selecting new technologies to ensure that our data will stay useful and relevant.
  • Focus cataloging on high quality metadata, particularly for unique and specialized collections.
  • Exploit cooperative resources (like OCLC) for data about widely available items, and use automated procedures when local processing is required. When practical, we should be proactive in implementing new features within existing standards when they will benefit our users.
  • Continue to ensure our records have authoritative author, title, and subject data, and explore ways to more effectively expose that data in our internal and external search mechanisms.
  • Advocate at the national level to pressure vendors for including and maintaining metadata.
  • Provide our users with the information they need, at the point of their need. Identify ways to get into the regular work flows of our patrons wherever possible (for example, Moodle, Google Scholar, WorldCat).
  • Optimize our software and metadata for retrieving resources by journal and serial title and article titles through the catalog and openURL searches.
  • Form a small group to monitor developments and make recommendations about our transition to new metadata formats, linked data, etc.
  • Create a team or reconfigure an existing team to assume responsibility for user feedback on discovery tools, space, services, etc.
  • Contract with PALS to enhance known item searching in VuFind.

Download Complete Task Force Report


According to a recent report done for the Association of Colleges and Universities, 72% of employers surveyed called for colleges to place more emphasis on “the location, organization, and evaluation of information from multiple sources.” At St. Olaf, research techniques are taught by professors and librarians through coursework, and several college- wide, high-impact practices revolve around student research. Librarians deliver approximately 240 information literacy classes a year that teach research strategies at the request of individual professors and they post more than that many library guides a year. The Information Literacy Competency Standards Review Task Force of the ACRL (American College Research Libraries) noted that “Today’s college students are tasked with navigating a much wider world of information than ever before—online and in print. Students are not only information users, they are information creators, contributing online content that lives outside the print format, and may take the shape of videos, podcasts or other online multimedia works. Helping students become information literate is more critical than ever before.” The Libraries plan to address these issues through the following actions:

  • Discuss, identify the impact, and develop an action plan to address the emerging ACRL “framework concepts” for teaching information literacy.
  • Host a workshop on the new information literacy framework.
  • Revise our Intentional Learning Outcomes for the First Year Writing Courses.
  • Review data from our first three years of our six-year assessment effort to determine efforts for the remainder of the assessment period.
  • Develop and pilot new concepts to help faculty update their information literacy skills.
  • Develop an in-depth training program for Research Tutors, as well as offer the training to our Access Services student employees.
  • Rebrand ourselves and our services (as Research and Instruction Librarians).
  • Advertise and expand the new appointment system for the Research Desk with faculty and students.
  • Revitalize our relationships with faculty and develop strategies to partner with them on teaching research practices to their students.
  • Collaborate with CILA and Instructional Technologies to identify resources for assignment design (workshops/readings) and send one R/I librarian for training in same.
  • Develop and pilot new concepts to help faculty update their own information literacy skills.
  • Collaborate with CILA and the Associate Deans to sponsor a summer faculty workshop on assignment design, with an emphasis on library-based research and instructional technologies.
  • Overhaul our course guides, discipline-based subject guides, and the more specialized explanatory guides.
  • Build on 2013/2014 initial efforts with Piper Center; identify what needs to be done to support graduating seniors, whether they pursue graduate school or any other career path.
  • Reflect on how new initiatives like Digital Humanities and our traditional core work of research/instruction blend in order to make sure we balance our time and efforts well.
  • Provide limited research service in the SSS/Trio and the Multicultural/International student lounges.
  • Provide limited research service during the summer in Kierkegaard Library.

Download Complete Task Force Report


Two sweeping transformations connect the five recommendations that follow. The first is that our patrons are not merely consumers of information but are creators of and contributors to it, active participants in the production and circulation of knowledge. While this has always been the case, easier access to digital tools and online networks enable our patrons to realize and disseminate their ideas on a previously unattainable scale. This transformation requires us to rethink everything, from reconfiguring our spaces to accommodate our patrons’ technology needs to determining the digital skills we need to teach and to be taught ourselves. The second idea that informs these recommendations – that the roles of librarian and technologist are converging – is both an inevitable consequence of the upsurge in digital creation and a necessary condition for fostering digital literacy among our patrons. To successfully support digital resources for research, teaching, and learning, we will have to strengthen our collaborative work with instructional technologists. The recommendations that follow propose ways of cultivating that collaboration as the most effective means of supporting our patrons’ technological needs.

  • Establish a centralized, flexible suite of spaces to support digital scholarship.
  • Create spaces within the library equipped with technology to support teaching and learning for students, faculty, and staff.
  • Continue to develop deep and sustainable collaborations between instructional technologists and research and instruction librarians and work to have sufficient staffing to support digital scholarship.
  • Lead students and faculty in acquiring digital literacy skills; technology- driven research, teaching, and learning practices; and a critical awareness of the ways they produce, circulate, and consume information.
  • Certify that digital content and services are accessibility-compliant.

Download Complete Task Force Report


As the technologies, services, and culture of information seeking evolve, the St. Olaf Libraries must be poised to respond to these changes in order to advance our students’ pursuit of academic excellence -- an integral part of St. Olaf’s mission. The current physical arrangement of our libraries’ services must be modified to address current and anticipated changes in student services, user expectations, institutional collaboration with Carleton College, digital scholarship, and staffing models. The following concepts and ideas have been developed in response to our changing environment.

  • Create a Learning Hub in Rolvaag Library that provides services from Access Services, Research Services, Academic Support Center, Information Technology and the Writing Center.
  • Cross-train students and staff from Access Services and R&I Departments to integrate the public services seamlessly, as well as include IT help desk and Academic Support Center in some of the training to ensure consistent expectations and philosophies among all service points.
  • Co-locate the autonomous special collections within Rolvaag Library, thereby facilitating operational efficiencies of all collections and allowing all to share public spaces and workspaces.
  • Establish a centralized, flexible suite of spaces to support digital scholarship that will be available to all community members during library hours.
  • Design both collaborative open space and quiet contained work areas with key adjacencies in mind between staff positions as well as between staff and student workers.
  • Engage in conversations with Carleton on possible future directions with staffing to determine how it might impact space planning.
  • Determine the feasibility of relocating all Rolvaag Library and IT staff to a common location/floor.
  • Incorporate up to four shared classrooms (all with flexible, moveable furniture and outfitted to accommodate evolving technologies) into the new designs for the library.
  • Reimagine student spaces to allow for increased group study rooms, open spaces amendable to both study and socialization, with more hard and software furnishings with the addition of more standing desks.
  • Create a robust infrastructure to support the proliferation of digital devices and network dependence among our patrons, including robust Wi-Fi connectivity and easy access to outlets and charging stations.
  • Design a “graduated quiet area” schematic to reduce ambient noise when moving away from the Learning Hub.
  • Evaluate the current branch library space and programming needs prior to any renovation of Rolvaag Memorial Library, as well as explore the potential benefits and drawbacks of incorporating branch library services and collections into the evolving Rolvaag Library space.
  • Continue work to develop a concept for an expansion and remodel of the Halvorson Music Library.
  • Explore ways off-site storage might serve our libraries and our collaborative partnership with Carleton College and our on-campus partners.
  • Establish a committee to address issues of aesthetic upkeep within the libraries.
  • Explore the location(s) of vault space(s) (for HVAC, risk assessment, accessibility) with a careful consideration to consolidating the three separate vault spaces that currently exist within the building.

Download Complete Task Force Report


The St. Olaf College Libraries need to be intentional about planning, supporting, and facilitating professional engagement opportunities for the staff. All staff need to be able to successfully adapt and continually innovate in a rapidly changing library environment. To help staff navigate through change, the following concepts and ideas will be explored and/or adopted.

  • Distribute a regular e-note to staff outlining upcoming library activities, upcoming conferences, webinars, classes or general information.
  • Work to ensure that all staff have opportunities to attend conferences, workshops, and activities to enhance their skills and knowledge.
  • Schedule regular formal and informal professional activities for staff.
  • Develop a shared calendar for Bridge events and activities.
  • Continue Teaching Tuesdays and expand the invitation to include Carleton staff.
  • Include time at all All-Library meetings for staff to share highlights from recent conference attendance and other professional development activities.

Download Complete Task Force Report