In July 2010, Chancellor Frank T. Brogan of the State University System of Florida (SUS) and former Chancellor Will Holcombe of the Florida College System (FCS) created the Task Force on the Future of Academic Libraries in Florida to determine a vision and develop a strategic plan for the future of academic library access, resources, and services in the state.
In March 2011, in response to pending legislation, the Chancellors extended the Task Force’s mission to include developing recommendations for creating a single unified library organization to provide the services required by both sectors. Section 48, Chapter 2011-63, Laws of Florida, required the SUS and FCS to establish a new joint library services organization to address the needs of all public post-secondary academic libraries in Florida. The new organization will replace the Florida Center for Library Automation (FCLA), which served the universities, and the College Center for Library Automation (CCLA), which supported the college system.
In May 2011, the Task Force engaged ISF, a Florida-based national management consulting firm, to support the development of a Unified Library Services Business Plan. Working Groups were chartered by the Task Force to develop options and recommendations for all dimensions of the legislative requirements. The Task Force, co-chaired by Jim Morris, Executive Director of Library and Community Services at Florida Gateway College, and Dr. Shirley Hallblade, Dean of the Library at the University of North Florida, consisted of library representatives, administrators, and information officers from both the university and college sectors, as well as representatives from Florida’s specialized Medical and Law school libraries. In addition, the Task Force included representatives from the K-12 sector, the State Library of Florida, and the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF) to ensure the needs of these groups were also considered in light of future potential participation.
Cyndy Loomis, ISF CEO and Principal Consultant on the Unified Library Services Business Plan development project said, “The Task Force took a notably proactive approach to meeting its directive. Despite the unique needs of the constituencies these entities serve, the members undertook the tough challenge to develop a plan they could support. The Task Force Co-Chairs, Jim Morris and Dr. Shirley Hallblade, did an amazing job keeping everyone focused on the common goal, while ensuring they all heard each other and considered everyone’s needs. The joint sponsorship by Dr. John Holdnak, Vice Chancellor of the Florida College System, and Dr. Nancy McKee, Associate Vice Chancellor of the State University System were also key to the success of the process. I’ve been working with education sector clients for 24 years, and this was one of the most smoothly run, consensus-building groups I’ve had the pleasure of supporting. The hard work and dedication of everyone involved is evident in the final plan.”
The final plan was unanimously approved by the Task Force and submitted to Chancellor Brogan (SUS) and Chancellor Hanna (FCS) in November 2011. The Chancellors submitted the final plan to the Executive Office of the Governor and the Legislature in December, ahead of its January 1, 2012 due date.
The plan has been well-received and was used as the basis for new legislation developed during the 2012 Legislative session.
A history of the task force and the final report can be found at http://www.flbog.org/about/librarytaskforce/.