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Mission and Strategic Plan

Harrell Health Sciences Library: Research and Learning Commons
Strategic Plan 2020-2024


Mission, Vision, Values

Mission Statement
The Harrell Health Sciences Library: Research and Learning Commons (HHSL) is central to the provision of biomedical information resources and expertise in support of the education, research, patient care, and community outreach missions of the Penn State College of Medicine and the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. The library creates and sustains a stimulating learning environment for the students, staff, faculty, and patients by providing high quality services, facilities and information resources in all formats.

Integrating discovery, research, education, service, community outreach, and patient care.

The Harrell Health Sciences Library is committed to:

  • Equity of Access
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Ethics and Integrity
  • Sustainability
  • Empathy

See the Penn State University Libraries’ 2014-2019 strategic plan for additional Information.

Other strategic plans to consider for alignment and mapping of library goals and strategies


Library faculty liaisons proactively keep abreast of strategic priorities and new developments at the institutional, campus, and departmental levels. The library strives to make all of its resources and services discoverable and accessible without regard to physical location. The library's collection development activities are conducted according to the Collection Development Statement.

Goal 1: Improve library collections and their discoverability. 

  • Improve the library discovery platform with local customizations
  • Expand the eJournal list to include all eJournals available through Penn State University subscriptions rather than maintaining a scoped biomedical eJournal list
  • Acquire additional resources to support the new Dental Residency
  • Continue to monitor the development of the health system and the regional medical campus and any implications for collections acquisition and licensing
  • Complete an inventory and analysis of the circulating library collection

Goal 2: The library will enhance access to its resources and services. 

  • Cooperate with IT to improve access to library resources (COM)
  • Continue to improve and evolve the library website and public facing systems
  • Review the public facing library dashboard and other data collection practices to create a data inventory
  • Continue to enhance public-facing and internal Interlibrary Loan and Access Services systems and platforms
  • Update OCLC local holdings records for locally held eJournals to enhance discoverability in Interlibrary Loan systems

Goal 3: The library will preserve and provide access to its special collections.

  • Continue to maintain and organize the “History of Medicine Collection” and campus archives
  • Continue to partner with College of Medicine Departments and groups to build and maintain special collections, such as the Kienle Collection, the Graphic Medicine Collection, and the Graduate Career Development collections
  • Continue communication with University Libraries and monitor migration of digitized special collections
  • Continue to collaborate with the University Park Special Collections Library on acquisition and processing of College of Medicine archival materials

The HHSL will sustain and improve its physical locations and spaces. Technologies in library spaces including hardware and software will need to be maintained while new technologies are evaluated and implemented. Review of the accessibility and working needs of our users and personnel are important for regular usage of library spaces and for emergencies.

Goal 1: Sustain and evolve the technologies available in the library in order to provide institutional access to new tools and strategies for education and research.

  • Optimize technology spaces to promote teaching and learning of technologies and their applications
  • Review and improve management and distribution of software and hardware within the library
  • Consider new technologies to implement in the technology spaces, or ways of upgrading existing technologies

Goal 2: Promote usability of technology spaces in the library.

  • Improve approachability of technology spaces
  • Market and promote the usability of technology spaces

Goal 3: Continually evaluate library spaces and access for users and library personnel.

  • Assess environmental health needs and issues of the library spaces
  • Consider changes to study spaces to better meet students’ needs
  • Ensure continued compliance with access standards
  • Reorganize the library’s record keeping systems and prepare for possible migration

Goal 4: Formalize safety and emergency preparedness plans.

  • Formalize details of existing safety and emergency preparedness plans.
  • Familiarize library faculty and staff with safety and emergency preparedness plans.
  • Develop contingency plans for weather emergencies and disasters.

The HHSL continues to increase the population’s knowledge and usage of the high-quality information resources and services that we provide. This includes advertising new services that satisfy unmet needs of our users; and increase the visibility of the library in the academic, research, and patient care activities of Penn State College of Medicine and Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Goal 1: The library Communications Team will promote services, resources, and events.


  • Build upon and collaborate with marketing departments at the College of Medicine and University Libraries
  • Coordinate the creation of promotional materials
  • Coordinate the format and content of the library newsletter
  • Utilize the display cases regularly to highlight events, resources, and current trends

Goal 2: Library faculty and staff will assess and target students, staff and faculty with communication relevant to their needs and expertise.


  • Use the Liaison and personal librarian programs to promote library services and resources and collect information to understand short- and long-term needs
  • Market new and novel resources, spaces and services
  • Promote all library services through website, printed materials, and electronic billboard ads
  • Utilize Access and Lending Services personnel to promote the library to new faculty and staff

Goal 3: The communications team will develop and maintain the social media presence of the library.


  • Research the policies and rules around social media in relationship to the library as part of Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State University
  • Create strategies for maintaining content delivery for library social media platforms

Goal 4: Position the library as an accessible space to build community.


  • Explore strategies for engaging with the local geographic community through events and programming
  • Host exhibits, speakers and events such as National Library of Medicine traveling exhibits and History of Medicine Lectures

The HHSL offers collections and services that enhance the quality of clinical care and advance research activity at Penn State College of Medicine and Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. We help clinicians stay current in their respective fields and access evidence-based information at the point of care. We provide education and services that contribute to the institution’s effectiveness in obtaining research funding, assist with the research workflow, and help scholars showcase their works through effective scholarly communication.

Goal 1: The HHSL faculty and staff will keep abreast of the research needs of scholars by engaging with them and other stakeholders and apply that knowledge as a cross-functioning team.


  • Monitor trends in research and scholarly communication
  • Provide guidance and expertise in scholarly output and assessment including the use of research networking tools (e.g. Pure) and author tools (e.g. ORCID and Scopus IDs)
  • Provide scholarly communication knowledge as needed to internal faculty groups such as Faculty Affairs and Promotion and Tenure committees
  • Identify departments or programs that can benefit from the use of the library liaison program
  • Evaluate user needs and services through focus groups and/or utilize existing surveys and data points
  • Provide support per institutional requirements for public access to scholarly output and promote and direct researchers to institutional repositories
  • Identify and pursue educational opportunities relevant to academic medical librarianship

Goal 2: The HHSL will offer new and continued services that educate clinicians, researchers, and support staff, contribute to competitiveness in obtaining research funding, provide scholarly communication guidance, and enhance clinical care.


  • Provide relevant and timely workshops and consultations addressing trends and challenges in scholarly publishing such as copyright, predatory publishing, funder compliance, etc.
  • Provide the systematic review service and consultations
  • Support potential and established research projects through individual and group consultations and mediated searches
  • Assess the library’s role and possible contribution towards new or refined services based on national trends
  • Identify evaluate, acquire and support technologies users need to discover, create, use, and preserve information
Teaching and Learning

The HHSL will provide leadership in teaching evidence-based practice, critical thinking, and curriculum support. We will partner with faculty and staff to teach life-long learning skills to students in all health and biomedical sciences programs. We will create an environment that bolsters educational opportunities for the Penn State College of Medicine and the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Goal 1: The library will expand its partnership in graduate, medical, physician assistant, nursing, and resident education.

  • Strengthen partnerships with teaching faculty, clinical faculty, and others to assist in facilitation and integration of evidence based practice and critical thinking skills across all educational programs
  • Identify opportunities to integrate and apply the corresponding professional frameworks and standards across the COM curricula to developmentally and systematically integrate information literacy and evidence based practice
  • Participate in curriculum design and educational committees
  • Offer workshops with improved curriculum design and assessment tools
  • Leverage the liaison program to foster relationships with the Milton S. Hershey Medical
  • Center, Penn State University, and Penn State College of Medicine departments (Hershey, State College and other locations), students, and programs, and integrate our knowledge and expertise into the curriculum

Goal 2: The library will remain agile and respond to new and existing educational programs resulting from the evolution of the academic health system.

  • Connect with developing and expanding programs to provide access to collections necessary for education
  • Provide library consultations for new and expanding programs to ensure access to resources
  • Provide support during accreditation processes
  • Leverage liaison program to gather intelligence about departmental changes and trends
  • Investigate new educational technologies and leverage library faculty’s expertise to reach students, faculty, and staff located on-campus and beyond
  • Use the library website to offer online and asynchronous educational programs and course modules
  • Encourage participation in professional development opportunities to enhance the knowledge and skills of HHSL faculty and staff