Library New and Ongoing Initiatives

In an evolving academic landscape, ABLD libraries are focusing on effectively communicating their value and services to patrons and campus communities. Initiatives to improve communication are taking various forms, from working with branding firms, as seen at Harvard Business School’s Baker Library; to creating a “Service Menu” for better articulation of core services at New York University (NYU); to the case concierge service that HEC Montreal intends to develop in collaboration with the Case Center. Emory University is capitalizing on video content to highlight their space and resources, while the University of Virginia’s Darden Library emphasizes making students and faculty aware of the resources they continue to offer via LinkedIn. Dartmouth College is working on strategic messaging to enhance the visibility of its library services and resources.

In this hybrid work model, ABLD libraries are offering flex time options to librarians and staff. For example, the University of Texas at Austin has enabled a hybrid schedule through Flexible Work Arrangements, and the University of Michigan has provided a combination of in-person and remote services to offer staff more flexibility.

They are also sharing a shift in pedagogical approach toward customized library e-learning modules or educational digital video series. Harvard Business School, for instance, has initiated a new Learn With Baker Library series providing customized e-learning modules. Northwestern is planning to create a digital scholarship center to enhance their offerings. Several universities--including the University of British Columbia and The Ohio State University--are collaborating with other campus groups to build learning modules addressing academic integrity.

In addition to academic support, many ABLD libraries are beginning to provide evidence synthesis support services. For example, Harvard Business School and Ohio State are exploring evidence synthesis principles to support faculty literature search projects. Libraries are also expanding their instruction to accelerator programs and graduate and immersion programs. Vanderbilt University focuses on student skill development for career readiness, while Emory participates in a ”Start-Up Accelerator” program. The University of North Carolina continues its workshops and support for consultation and instruction for numerous experiential learning programs.

Data and text data collections are also expanding. The University of California, Berkeley, for example, will take over the Haas School of Business’s data licensing workflow. The Carnegie Mellon University Libraries are investing in a new Open Source Programs Office (OSPO) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is investigating their infrastructure to enhance the discovery, access, and storage of purchased and research data.

A focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) initiatives is also evident. For instance, Pennsylvania State University has initiated a virtual article reading club focused on DEIA aspects of recent developments within companies or industries, while Indiana University-Bloomington has sought to identify gaps in their DEIA holdings.

Innovations in digital lending and artificial intelligence (AI) are taking place. The College of William and Mary, for instance, expanded its controlled digital lending services, and is also coordinating a response to generative AI, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, in its curriculum and research. These initiatives underscore the continuous evolution and adaptation of libraries to better serve their communities in the 21st century.

Library Organization

In an ever-evolving world, ABLD libraries are making considerable strides to adapt and modernize their operations. Institutions are integrating business and data into combined librarian positions, undertaking strategic organizational redesigns, dealing with significant staff turnovers, and even participating in unionization of staff.

Purdue University and Southern Methodist University are spearheading an innovative approach to staffing by creating roles that amalgamate business and data skills. This innovative idea brings data acquisition, business, and digital reference services under one umbrella, indicating an appreciation for the growing importance of data competencies in library services.

Staffing adjustments and the creation of new roles are also becoming commonplace. Institutions such as Harvard Business School and Oregon State University are creating new positions to address increasing demands. Harvard Business School, for instance, has established a position specifically to coordinate faculty data licensing. However, not all universities have had success in filling these unique roles. Carnegie Mellon reported unsuccessful attempts in hiring for two positions focused on research data management and artificial intelligence.

Staff turnover and hiring processes represent another area of significant change. Several universities–such as the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Arizona State University--have experienced major turnover and are now in the midst of large-scale hiring initiatives. Some universities, like Michigan State University, are operating under unique circumstances, functioning with fewer librarians than they typically employ. We are also seeing more efforts to unionize. Librarians at the University of Washington and the University of Michigan have secured their first-ever union contracts after more than a year of bargaining.

Strategic planning and organizational redesigns have become a primary focus for many university libraries. Institutions such as Cornell University, Dartmouth, and the University of Maryland are initiating comprehensive strategic planning processes, across many levels of the library systems. These are aimed at not only improving existing services but also at introducing novel concepts such as a “human-centered approach,” “innovation,” and “sustainability.”

Physical Spaces

In recent years, many ABLD libraries have been undergoing significant changes to their physical spaces. These transformations have been driven by various factors, such as the increasing shift toward digital resources, budget constraints, and evolving user needs. Across various libraries, there is a trend of incorporating digital monitors and technology into their spaces to promote databases, display interviews, highlight new books, and improve data visualization.

Many libraries have been undergoing renovations to improve their spaces and meet the changing needs of their communities. These renovations include upgrading furniture, adding immersive technologies, creating digital projects labs, and installing new digital signs. Notably, some libraries have downsized study rooms, opting for smaller private spaces that can be reserved. There is also a focus on providing space for Zoom meetings and hybrid gatherings.

At Darden, there has been a major reduction in print journals, leading to challenges in finding space for the remaining print collection. Additionally, the binding of materials has been significantly reduced.

Carnegie Mellon University has undergone a notable project that involved reducing its physical reference collection in Hunt Library to create room for the new Sustainability Studio.

Georgetown University is preparing for a capital campaign to reorganize its library space, with plans to move technical services to create more seating, group rooms, and flexible spaces, including a media wall.

UC Berkeley faced budget and staffing issues that led to the closure of the Business Library to the public. Plans are in motion to transform it into a “satellite library” with reduced services and hours.

At Dartmouth, an innovative approach involved receiving an innovation grant to create a more engaging and people-centric atmosphere at Feldberg Library. The project included setting up book displays, incorporating plants, and introducing manipulative toys to encourage interpersonal connections and showcase library collections.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, libraries have experienced changes in space usage. Some reported a decline in overall use, while others saw an increase compared to the COVID-affected period, roughly March 2020 to March 2022, but not yet reaching pre-pandemic levels.

Security has become a concern for some libraries, leading to evaluations and updates of emergency procedures and the implementation of additional security measures, like locks on study rooms and classroom doors.

Overall, the evolving landscape of library spaces reflects the dynamic changes in technology, user preferences, and institutional priorities. Institutions continue to adapt their spaces to best serve their academic communities and foster a welcoming and engaging environment for learning and collaboration.


Collections remain a critical focal point for ABLD Libraries. They are dealing with vendor policies an increasing budgetary strain due to soaring renewal prices; and the need to find alternative sources. Staff find themselves in negotiation fatigue. The situation has led to reductions in subscriptions and licenses, particularly in print collections, as libraries shift toward electronic formats.

Technology and access issues remain one of the most significant challenges for ABLD libraries. One of the major hurdles has been the transition to single sign-on (SSO) for authentication and access. While SSO offers secure access, certain vendors have enforced changes that result in technical compatibility challenges and significant deployment time costs. Moreover, concerns about end-user privacy have necessitated custom usage reporting scripts, causing administrative overhead. Databases with non-seamless access have escalated tech support issues, leading to loss of access and poor response times from some vendors. Additionally, addressing patron and data privacy concerns has proved difficult, with interface challenges and vendors refusing to make accessibility improvements.

The demand for text data mining resources and support, particularly for social media listening, has increased. However, the attrition of niche publications and data providers from major aggregator platforms continues to be an issue, resulting in cancelations.

Managing collections is both active and intensive. Staying up to date with new products and vendor merger and acquisition activity has been time-consuming but beneficial for maintaining relationships with faculty and serving as an expert in the field. Consolidation among vendors raises budgetary uncertainties, with some libraries experiencing budget cuts and making tough decisions to adapt to financial challenges. Retiring cost-shares and chargebacks with co-purchasing units frees up funds and simplifies billing. Nevertheless, misalignment and disagreement on license terms have sparked rigorous discussions with vendors leading to negotiating and rejection of unfavorable pricing and data use terms.

Despite the hurdles, libraries continue to navigate the landscape, adapting our approaches and seeking viable alternatives to maintain access to critical resources for faculty and students.

Business School Updates

Several business schools are showing significant growth and evolution. Darden is expanding its facilities and programs, although staff recruitment in the IT sector presents challenges. Harvard Business School has launched a digital transformation effort and established the Harvard Digital, Data, and Design Institute. Schools like NYU are introducing online and hybrid MBA programs, improving research infrastructure, and exploring cloud solutions.

A strong inclination toward technology integration is observed across Columbia University, Duke University, and Penn State. These institutions are exploring the digital economy, focusing on climate and business relationships, and remaining committed to technological advancements despite budget constraints.

New leadership perspectives and strategic planning are shaping many business schools’ directions. Significant leadership transitions at Emory, NYU, and other institutions are driving change. Schools like William and Mary’s Mason School of Business and the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business are aligning their objectives with societal and community goals.

Universities like Indiana University, Ohio State, and others are witnessing organizational transformations. Staffing shortages and budget constraints persist at the business school level as well, but the advent of technologies like AI and the trend of remote work may offer relief. Space-related concerns and uncertainties are an additional hurdle.

Despite these challenges, positive developments are occurring. Purdue has reinstated its budget to pre-pandemic levels, Darden benefits from a new hotel, and Harvard Business School celebrated an essential milestone of the 100th year of the Case Method. New partnerships, such as that between the University of Maryland and Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, continue to shape the exciting yet challenging trajectory of libraries and business schools.

Business education landscape is continuously adapting to a dynamic environment, embracing growth, technological innovation, leadership transitions, and strategic planning. Organizational changes, library involvement, and emerging challenges are integral to this evolving panorama, reflecting a commitment to cutting-edge education and research.


Academic Business Library Directors (ABLD). (2023). Year in Review Report 2022/2023. Unpublished report.

OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (July 25 version) [Large language model].