When I was interviewing for this position, I knew that one of the expectations was that I would deepen collaboration with both the Carleton Library and with the St. Olaf IT department. In December, that expectation was given a lot of support when President Poskanzer announced, "The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Carleton College and St. Olaf College a $1.4 million grant to support increased institutional collaboration. The award funds a four-year project to advance collaboration in library services, information technology, management operations, and academic programs."
Brad Schaffner, College Librarian at Carleton adds, "The Mellon Grant provides both colleges with the opportunity to expand their collaboration beyond the already successful partnership between the Carleton and St. Olaf libraries." That partnership has been ongoing since 2003.
The challenges and opportunities of collaborating on this scale are part of what I found intriguing -- could I do it "right". In other words, could I extract the benefits while successfully navigating the risks of inter-institutional collaboration. And trust me -- I had experienced both of those during my time with the TriCo (Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore).
Roberta Lembke, Director of IT and Libraries at St. Olaf says, "We expect to collaborate on a number of projects, but only when we can either provide additional value to our communities, contain or reduce costs, or ideally both. Collaboration is far too time consuming to do just to say we have collaborated." One small example - Roberta has recently enabled off-campus access to St. Olaf's online directory for faculty and staff, streamlining the communications between our two Colleges.
To me collaboration is worth our attention for the most basic of reasons -- we are small and don't have the economy of scale of larger IT operations. With technology expanding in breadth and importance every year, we need to consider all options for how to provide service including use of cloud/vendor-provided resources, increasing technology skill and self-sufficiency for everyone and streamlining our services.
Collaboration with the library, with St. Olaf and with other institutions are all options for streamlining and may provide the richest opportunity for providing high touch service more efficiently.