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Case Study: Strategic Visioning & Alignment (2018-19)

15 May 2019

Client: New York University Division of Libraries

Project: Strategic Visioning & Alignment (2018-19)


In November of 2018, Athenaeum21 (A21) began working with the New York University Division of Libraries (DoL) to align the organization to its stated mission and values, and to uncover its longer-term aspirations. Continuing through April of 2019, the work focused on organizational discovery and alignment as well as identifying and designing shared criteria for prioritization of work. The work was intended to deepen the conversation among the DoL staff about setting and meeting their strategic goals within the context of foreseeable trends in education and research libraries. Both the activities and outcomes of this work are intended to inform the thoughtful design of administrative structures, decision-making criteria, and a communications plan that will empower staff to respond confidently to oncoming trends, challenges, and opportunities.


This work took place in two phases. The Discovery Phase involved working with the DoL to elicit the professional insights and domain expertise of the Senior Leadership Team, Department Managers, and staff through a series of information-gathering and collaborative endeavors over several months. These efforts centered on three core foci:  

  • How best to prioritize the DoL’s work in light of strategic goals.

  • Identifying the biggest issues, trends and potential obstacles (internal and external) facing the DoL and its areas of services in the next 3, 5, and 10 years.

  • Understanding how the DoL’s services and organizational structure can be better aligned to address these issues and trends now and in the future.

In the second, Alignment Phase, A21 synthesized the many inputs gathered during the Discovery Phase, identified the gaps between existing administrative structures and services and projected the future needs of DoL staff, users, and stakeholders. These findings were presented, tested, and refined in two facilitated Alignment Workshops with DoL staff to identify opportunities to align administrative structures, processes, and library services to future needs.


A final report outlined the findings, including the DoL’s aspirations, strengths, challenges (both internal and external), and gaps between their current and aspirational state. The report then provided recommendations to align the organization to fulfill its aspirations. These recommendations were divided into immediate-, near-, and longer-term timeframes, with reasoning and actions to support each. Recommendations focused on communications, skills-building, decision-making and accountability structures (including mechanisms to evaluate and prioritize initiatives), and key areas to deepen or expand existing service areas through strategic coordination across teams.


Services Provided:

  • Strategic Planning

  • Visioning Workshops

  • Alignment Workshops

  • User Needs Research & Analysis

  • Gap Analysis

Methods Used:

  • Interviews (in person, via telephone, and via videoconference)

  • Online Surveys

  • Workshops

  • Desk Research

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