A new mission, brand, team, direction and set of values
‘Extraordinary’. ‘Unprecedented.’ We’ve heard these words so much in the last year they’ve become cliché. But not acknowledging the times we’re all working in feels disingenuous. This is an extraordinary time for all of us. Every day at Lean Library we speak to librarians all over the world and the strain they’re under is palpable. A year on from our first national lockdowns, and the rapid shift to off-campus learning and research, and we know librarians are still stretched to the max. Having rapidly digitised collections, worked hard to improve off-campus access and support, and faced budget shortfalls and cuts, there is no sign of letting up.
In this context we believed that revisiting what we’re all about at Lean Library, and setting a new direction for our future, was not a distraction but an imperative.
In 2020 our active user base doubled and now sits at around 200,000 patron users per month. Each of these patrons is using our browser extension more too, twice as much as previous levels. Over 50 new libraries adopted Lean Library as they worked out how to serve their patrons remotely. We now have 130 library partners. For these partners, their immediate focus with Lean Library in 2020 was ensuring seamless remote access for their patrons, but we’ve also noticed a larger question start to emerge…
If patrons can’t come to the physical library, and are continuing to favour their own workflows and discovery tools over the library portal and discovery service, how do librarians ‘bring the library to the patron’ – not just resources and tools but also librarian support?
A new mission for Lean Library
In aspiring to really understand this question, and to answer it both theoretically and practically, we have reframed our mission.
Our new mission at Lean Library is to help redefine, enable and amplify the power of the academic library to advance student learning and researcher impact.
We believe this new mission is specific and practical, but it also inspires us as a team, giving us purpose in all we do. As a team we share that passion for discovery and learning common to everyone working in our knowledge community. We believe that librarians play a fundamental role in enabling education and research. Our mission is therefore unequivocally and specifically about serving libraries and librarians, because we believe that in doing so we can amplify their impact on discovery and learning – allowing us to make the biggest contribution we can and to best serve our library partners.
Objectives for 2021
So how we will take forward this new mission in 2021?
‘…to help redefine the power of the academic library to advance student learning and researcher impact’
In April 2021 we are launching a large-scale survey on the librarian-patron relationship, Librarian Futures, supported by interviews and other data sources. We see this as a vast listening exercise to further explore what the future might look like for the role of the librarian, specifically in the context of the service and support they provide to patrons. This research will be for our global community and published later this year. You can find out more about the survey here – please do take part!
We are also having a lot of fun recording a librarian trailer to help promote this survey – please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to take part. We promise to make it worth your while with some of our new Lean Library t-shirts!
‘…to help enable the power of the academic library to advance student learning and researcher impact’
From March 2021, we will be sharing the results from a number of pilots with libraries on a new service called Lean Library Futures.
- At ER&L 2021, Utah State University showcased Lean Library’s partnership with Springshare. This partnership enables LibGuides to be integrated directly into patron workflows. You can find out more here.
- At Access Lab 2021, the University of East Anglia demonstrated how Lean Library Futures can help bring library instructional material into patron workflows. You can find out more here.
Lean Library Futures is a new service for libraries that helps them bring their services, content and librarian support into the patron’s workflow. We hope that this service can be a practical answer to that big question posed above – ultimately, taking the library to the patron.
Our Team and our Values
Finally, I also wanted to introduce you to our expanded team, which can be found here. We have brought in new team members in each department, across Implementation, Product, Sales, Technology and Marketing. They’d love to hear from you!
With this expanded team, we’ve also reviewed our values. Some of these are more internal, to help us establish best practices in organisation and professionalism. But there is one that sits at the centre of all of them that we want the world to know about: being Collaborative.
A Collaborative Team
It’s no accident that our mission is qualified by that phrase ‘to help’. We know we can’t do any of this alone, and we don’t want to. We are putting collaboration and partnership at the heart of our team culture.
It’s why our new service, Lean Library Futures, comes out of pilot partnerships with libraries and is being developed in partnership with them.
It’s why we’ve recently announced a partnership with Springshare, with other library service providers to come soon. (Please check out Library Service Providers to find out about other partnerships and email us at email@example.com if you are a library service provider and would like to hear more.)
Collaboration is also why we’re putting so much energy and effort behind our Librarian Futures survey – we want a deep understanding of what libraries and librarians want and need to be the foundation for everything we do.
Please get in touch
So in the spirit of collaboration, we’d love to hear what you think of all this and we’re always looking for partners to work with, whether libraries or fellow library service providers. Please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!