Todd Nicolet (chair) gave the DAC an update on the work of the strategic planning implementation committee that is focusing on information resources. The group has been meeting every other week since January, and they hope to finish their work by October. Their goal is “to develop and implement the most effective and efficient strategies for getting information from the School to public officials and others.” What “information” are we talking about? It is a long and daunting list that includes traditional resources like books, handbooks, and bulletins—though “bulletins” have evolved to include many different kinds of information. It also includes more recent vehicles—webinars, blogs, websites, and wikis.
Todd offered the DAC a snapshot of the future as envisioned by the committee. First, a shorter and more clearly-defined menu of vehicles for getting information to public officials. Second, guidelines for deciding which vehicle is the most appropriate depending on what you are trying to accomplish. Third, a system that facilitates the re-use of substantive information across different types of vehicles. Finally, the development of more efficient processes for supporting the production of information resources. This vision is not intended to limit new and innovative ways of getting information to our clients. Instead, a clearer set of choices for communicating with officials should make it easier to identify gaps that require creative solutions. The committee is working hard on the next steps required to realize that vision, which at the appropriate time will include getting feedback internally and from our clients.
One short-term priority for the committee is the development of an alternative to Popular Government. In the final issue we asked readers to complete a survey about the magazine—we received a significant number of comments and the committee is paying close attention to them. They are asking what value was served by the magazine and how can we meet those values in a different way. The preliminary idea so far is an electronic publication that would include substantive information drawn mostly from newly-created but existing resources (blogs, articles, bulletins, etc.). It will not be used primarily for marketing, though there may be room for certain kinds of special announcements that are likely to be of great interest. The idea is that responsibility for producing the electronic publication will rotate among faculty members. There are many details to be worked out by the committee, but I think they are on the right track.
The committee also was asked to look at how we might improve the ways we provide information to public officials and others through telephone and email advising. One of their next steps will be the creation of a survey to collect information about our email and phone advising. This issue presents a particular challenge for a host of reasons, but I think it definitely is worth taking a careful look at whether we can do something to make our advising more efficient without reducing its effectiveness for public officials.
All of the implementation committees are making extensive uses of surveys, which is great. The conversation in the DAC during these presentations reinforced the need to find more regular ways of getting feedback from officials about our work and how they are using it. Many thanks to all of you who are involved in the implementation committees. You are working hard and we are beginning to make progress on implementing our strategic priorities. Great work.