2016-2017 Impact Report

impact report heading text
students coming and going in the lobby of MD Anderson library
logo for university of houston libraries

During the 2016-2017 academic year, the University of Houston Libraries launched 17 teams to move critical initiatives forward within each of four goal areas. Project teams implemented new services and spaces, while planning teams completed foundational work for future projects.

The University of Houston Libraries Strategic Plan has four main goals:

  • Position UH Libraries as a Campus Leader in Research Productivity
  • Assure the Quality and Relevance of Collections for Campus and Global Communities
  • Position UH Libraries as a Campus Leader in Student Success Initiatives
  • Transform Library Spaces to Reflect Evolving Modes of Learning and Scholarship
image at night of the front of MD Anderson library with the A,A sculpture lit up
electronic pieces from makerspace kits
circuit boards from makerspace kits

Position UH Libraries as a Campus Leader in Research Productivity

Services and programs pertaining to research productivity represent one of the Libraries’ greatest areas of potential growth, and we have already seen significant movement on this goal, as is reflected in our performance indicator.

Notable successes include:

  • Development of the Digital Research Commons
  • Implementation of Omeka, a digital scholarship platform
  • Development of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for research partnerships
  • A digital asset management system for improved online access to unique collections
  • Promotion of open access to UH scholarly data, publications, and products through the development of Cougar ROAR (Research Open Access Repositories), a new platform for the Libraries’ Institutional Repository and UH Dataverse

These efforts led to an increase in the number of interactions that contribute to the research lifecycle, including one new MOU, an increase in research consultations, and an increase in the number of objects uploaded to the repository.

two researchers in the Special Collections reading room
Measure Outcome Goal FY16 FY17 Percentage Change
Increase the number of interactions that contribute to the research lifecycle 10% Yearly Increases
50% Overall 5-Year Increase
867 1,340 54.56% 
black and white image of astrodome under construction
page from an old book from special collections

Assure the Quality and Relevance of Collections for Campus and Global Communities

The Libraries’ collections are one of the most critical and robust resources offered. Making collections more relevant and accessible is a multifaceted endeavor. Teams investigated strategies for how we acquire and manage collections, and made recommendations to improve electronic resource workflows, retention strategies, and embedding research collections into the curriculum. A team also developed a plan for aggressively building and promoting materials related to energy and sustainability.

The results of these efforts are reflected most notably in the first indicator. We are being more intentional in dedicating funding to research priority areas. We allocated an additional $545,619 for STEM materials, an increase of 9.68%. We also saw an increase in the number of visitors to the Special Collections Reading Room.

Measure Outcome Goal FY16 FY17 Percentage Change
Increase collections budget in areas identified as research priorities 5% Yearly Increases
25% Overall 5-Year Increase
$5,634,888 $6,180,507 9.68% 
Increase use by external users 1% Yearly Increases
5% Overall 5-Year Increase
19,968 20,311 1.72% 
two students in one of MD Anderson's study spaces looking at a computer monitor and laughing
a student in a student room studying at a table by himself

Position UH Libraries as a Campus Leader in Student Success Initiatives

We focused on projects that were critical to improving the success of specific user populations. Data from our strategic planning process indicated the need for improvements serving online learners, distance learners, graduate students, and those students engaging in co-curricular programming.

Results of these efforts are reflected in the positive growth of both indicators. Activities related to embedding library instruction into classes include online and face-to-face information literacy instruction. The increase is largely due to our efforts to expand online learning in biology courses. Out-of-class research and skill-building programs grew thanks to the work of a team that investigated our current programming and identified new ideas for programming while also improving our ability to track our success in this area.

headshot of a student smiling
Measure Outcome Goal FY16 FY17 Percentage Change
Increase number of activities embedding library instruction into classes 2% Yearly Increases
10% Overall 5-Year Increase
808 939 16.21% 
Increase number of attendees at out-of-class research and skill-building activities and services 10% Yearly Increases
50% Overall 5-Year Increase
419 events 593 events 41.53% 
arrowhead used as a design element
meeting table and comfy chairs in the new Digital Research Commons

Transform Library Spaces to Reflect Evolving
Modes of Learning and Scholarship

We have made significant strides in transforming spaces for both learning and scholarship. Progress is most evident through the performance indicator tracking the amount of square footage that has been transformed, including space in the Architecture and Art Library, the new Digital Research Commons, upgrades to MD Anderson Library group study rooms, and a new makerspace. Teams also investigated and proposed enhanced exhibit space, expanded Special Collections storage space, and new technology for learning throughout the Libraries. A feasibility study for renovating the MD Anderson Library first floor is also underway.

In addition to physical spaces, a team evaluated the accessibility of all Libraries’ web pages, bringing them into compliance with federal standards. Improvements to the usability of the website contributed to an increase in perceived usability of the Libraries’ website.

beta space in the Music library
Hamill Foundation multimedia studio
couch and study table in Jenkins Architecture and Art Library
Measure Outcome Goal FY16 FY17 Percentage Change
Increase building usage (as a result of new spaces, new technology, signage, and integrated systems) 0.4% Yearly Increase
2% Overall 5-Year Increase
1,890,250 2,164,407 14.5% 
Increase perceived usability of Libraries website 0.4% Yearly Increase
2% Overall 5-Year Increase
58 71 22.41% 
Increase/transform percentage of dedicated user space* (including branches) 25% 5-Year Increase in Dedicated/Transformed User Space (approximately 50,000 sq. ft.) 2,828 23,183 719.77% 
Dean Lisa German leaning against the wall smiling with a black suit and red shirt

Dean’s Reflection on Progress

I am very pleased at the progress we have made this year towards implementing the goals in the Libraries 2017-2021 Strategic Plan. We created a robust structure and will adapt the initiatives as circumstances and institutional priorities necessitate change. Each of our goals aligns with the University’s major initiatives, and all support student success and research. UH Libraries is a hub for knowledge creation and preservation. We believe that by working together with campus partners, we can help everyone at the University to thrive.

We jumped out of the starting gate with 17 teams, resulting in many recommendations that we will be able to use to achieve our goals. I’d like to highlight a few of our teams.

The UH Libraries Cougar Scholars Open Access Team developed the infrastructure – Cougar Research Open Access Repositories (ROAR) – for long-term access and storage of UH scholarly works, including journal articles, presentation slides, course materials, and research data. This service aims to increase the impact of UH research and scholarship by making it openly and freely available to people around the world. It will also help researchers meet funder mandates to make the products of grants (research datasets and publications) available to all.

The Digital Research Commons (DRC) is an outgrowth of two goals, transforming spaces and research productivity. The genesis of the DRC came from the excellent report of our Digital Scholarship Services team. Their work has provided UH Libraries with a roadmap from which to create new services that are in high demand by campus constituents.

I established a Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CODI) whose charge embraces a broad interpretation of diversity. CODI strives to increase awareness and sensitivity among employees, to connect with University diversity offices and student groups, and to help recruit and retain a diverse workforce in an inclusive environment.

In conjunction with, and complementary to the Strategic Plan, I established philanthropic priorities that focused on support for Special Collections, student success, and transforming our spaces. Thanks to the McGovern Foundation and an anonymous donor, we have been able to transform almost two dozen group study rooms by adding technology, new furniture, and a painting refresh. We also garnered funding to enhance our Special Collections.

Energy and Sustainability

Hispanic Collections

Houston Hip Hop

Houston and Texas History

Carey Shuart Women’s Archives
and Research Collection

Performing and Visual Arts

Rare Books Collections

University Archives

LGBT History

As we begin 2018, I’d like to highlight other important activities that we will be embarking upon:

  • Launching the Digital Research Commons and its services
  • Launching the makerspace within the Learning Commons
  • Moving forward with Open Textbook initiatives
  • Garnering philanthropic support for the University Libraries

Using our Strategic Plan as our guide, and with the talented colleagues we have at UH Libraries,
I look forward to continued achievements and progress.


A community nurtured by curiosity and creativity that drives lifelong learning and scholarship.


University of Houston Libraries advances student success, knowledge creation and preservation, and globally competitive research.










the numbers
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illustration of person walking into a room
2,164,407 annual visitors
4,623,769 online resources used
illustration of a webpage

Teaching and Research Activities

illustration of students participating in a lecture
22,307 participants
illustration of people networking
14 networking and co-curricular events
illustration of an electrical plug
36,487 equipment check-outs
25,017 study room checkouts
illustration of two students studying on laptops at a study table
1,195,113 web visits

Web Visits

illustration of a computer monitor with a cursor on the screen
3,634,705 pageviews


recent exhibits heading
arrow head used for layout design
photo of 2 women from the Marjorie Randal National Women’s Conference Collection

The Spirit of Houston: A Retrospective 40 Years in the Making comprised documents and ephemera from the Marjorie Randal National Women’s Conference Collection in the Shuart Women’s Archive and Research Collection, and was curated by UH students.

Image and Imagination: The Art of Valentin Gertsman honors the life and work of Dr. Valentin Gertsman (1925-2013), a Russian-American surgeon who enjoyed a distinguished second career as a fine arts photographer.

photograph of the top of George R Brown Convention Center

Faculty and Student Perspectives

UH Libraries staff have been essential partners in student and public outreach programming I have been involved in through the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program and the Center for Public History. All staff – archival, communications, technology, and otherwise – have been incredibly focused on effective collaboration. As a faculty member, I have been additionally impressed with how attentive Special Collections staff have been to enhancing student engagement.

Leandra Zarnow, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of History
WGSS Affiliate
University of Houston

Working as a technology consultant at the MD Anderson Library has been a great experience for me as a student of UH. The staff is very friendly and helpful. The job has allowed me to further develop various skills such as communication, customer service and critical thinking. I have the pleasure of working alongside fellow classmates to assist our patrons with various problems. This has been beneficial for me because those skills will be very important when I join the workforce. It is very exciting and rewarding to work for such a great school. GO COOGS!

Ricardo Lopez
Student, Management Information Systems