In February 2019, the UCI Libraries published its first Social Impact Report. The report highlights the variety of ways in which library employees make a positive difference on campus and in the broader community. This report focuses on the contributions to the “social good” by library employees, through their involvement with the UCI Libraries’ organization. It does not attempt to describe the numerous individual volunteer opportunities that our engaged employees pursue outside of the organization. We are proud of our employee’s contributions and for their initiative in pursuing activities that make the world a better place!
The initial impetus for the project came from a CEO Round Table panel presentation that university librarian Lorelei Tanji attended. The presenters shared the value of diversity in company board leadership, and the benefits when companies focus on their contributions to society instead of focusing on profit margins. This inspired her and other library leaders to read articles in the business literature about “purpose-driven” organizations. We learned that employees in purpose-driven organizations are more engaged when they participate in initiatives where they are in service to help others and where they genuinely make a difference in the lives of others.
This research meshed well with a campus-wide initiative to increase staff engagement. A campus survey was administered in 2017, as part of an overall goal of enhancing staff engagement, empowerment, and innovation. Following the survey, campus leaders were encouraged to consider ways to build on the results and explore initiatives to increase engagement.
As a first step, we conducted a “baseline” inventory of current and past activities that contribute to the “social good.” This was focused not just on how we were fulfilling our mission, as described in the Libraries Strategic Plan, but more generally on how we collectively contribute to making a positive difference on campus and in the broader community. While we realize that many employees engage in such activities in all aspects of their lives, our focus was on the impact of activities by UCI Libraries groups, departments, or units.
These activities took place organically, but we decided to consciously celebrate them as an organization by creating the UCI Libraries Social Impact Report to highlight and facilitate these contributions. We were previously aware of some of these activities, but putting them all together into one document helped magnify and raise awareness. It also enabled people to view the impact of their work with new eyes, and to see their efforts within a larger context.
We are encouraging the continued pursuit of these grass-roots activities, and we believe that expanded communication and coordination of these activities between various individuals and teams will only broaden overall interest and engagement in this work.
Building on the good work we are already doing, a “Social Good” Coordination Team has been charged with coordinating and enhancing our “social impact” activities primarily in the area of support for UCI students, with a secondary focus on contributing to the local community.
Going forward, we are taking a more intentional approach and incorporating social impact into our goals. As an organization, we are consciously developing an infrastructure to facilitate, coordinate, and celebrate these and future projects to enhance their reach and impact.
We are excited to see the results of this initiative and look forward to sharing new ways that the UCI Libraries are making the world a better place.
For more information on the UCI Libraries social impact, contact Kevin Ruminson at firstname.lastname@example.org.