Our five year plan (2022-2027)

Our mission and vision and how we will support the University in the next five years.

4 people studying at the Library table.


We enable the University to access and use the information universe for the creation, application and communication of knowledge.


We are a world class, dynamic research library inspiring intellectual discovery and learning, and the creation of new knowledge within the complex information universe. We offer engaging experiences with people and content that enrich the University’s learning and research communities in both physical and digital spaces. We connect with the city and region, and through our networks advance global scholarship.

Core roles and ambitions identified for our 2022 - 2027 plan

  • Education pillar: Library is at the centre of the University of Sheffield learning community; providing inclusive spaces, resources and skills to inspire and support students in realising their academic potential.
  • Research pillar: Library is an open research advocate and facilitator, transforming scholarly communications, sharing the University’s research outputs for the public good and supporting research excellence through an ethical and collaborative research culture.
  • Innovation, Education and Research Pillars: Library is a cultural community, widening and sustaining access to our special collections and archives. We're inspiring research, learning and engagement within the University, region and beyond. 
  • Education and Research Pillars: Library is a digital trailblazer, reimagining education and scholarship for an open, hybrid and data-intensive world.

Strategic activities: key objectives and activities


We provide resources, spaces and skills essential for research, the discovery and creation of knowledge, as well as increasingly, the expertise, training, tools and advocacy for the implementation of FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) principles and a more open, collaborative and equitable research environment. Partnership is key so that we work in an agile and responsive way with our researchers (staff and students), professional service colleagues, regional and national consortia and research funders. 

We will:

  • Increase researcher open scholarship practices, making more of our research outputs openly available, compliant with FAIR principles, and published in venues valuing the sharing of knowledge ahead of commercial profit (activities: open access publishing, WRUP, diversify venues and outputs, open/fair data, publication strategies).
  • Make it easier for researchers to find, explore and use the World’s knowledge to inspire, conduct and deliver excellent research (activities: discovery, delivery, licensing, curation, digital collections, datasets, AI, technology, decolonisation/diversification/hidden voices, develop metadata).
  • Repurpose our physical collections and space, developing a research commons to create and connect research communities supporting research excellence and the PGR student experience (activities: flagships, author showcase, WOK, safepod).
  • Drive sustainable and inclusive access to scholarly content delivering knowledge without barriers and value for money for our student, staff and researcher communities (activities: publisher negotiations, OER development,  WRUP,  copyright & licensing, collective collections, N8+, sector campaigns - VAT, ebook pricing).


Our work with information has the power to transform the lives of our students and the wider community. For the University Library to bridge the physical with the digital, contributing to a vibrant digital campus and an open information environment. To bring a consistently excellent library experience to the student community through information resources and services embedded and signposted in the programme. To equip students with research, critical thinking and digital information skills, enabling them to be confident global citizens and successful in their careers.

We will: 

  • Improve the integration of library services, content and skills supporting different pedagogical approaches to increase successful outcomes for all students (activities: information mapping, reading lists, skills training, diversification/decolonisation, dissertation guides).
  • Drive development and evolution of learning space for all through the provision of flexible,  digitally connected, inclusive and diverse spaces, engendering a powerful sense of belonging for all our students (activities: our spaces, faculty and department spaces, library branding, service outreach model).
  • Increase understanding and experience of the information universe, including discovering, understanding, using, creating and communicating; preparing our students for successful careers and confident global citizens (activities: digital commons, digital exhibitions, diamond data space, skills training).


We will support the institution’s Knowledge Exchange Framework strategy as it does its Research Excellence Framework strategy, using our spaces for greater exposure of the University’s research strengths and our specialist support. This can be achieved through increasing external memberships, leveraging our existing community links and enhancing our outreach efforts. 

Extending the Library's influence beyond our physical estate will be crucial to supporting Advanced Manufacturing Group. This activity needs to be paired with development of our existing physical estate, demonstrating the wide range of library services and building a more nuanced vision of our work.

We can only deliver impact if we can mobilise our collections, spaces and staff in order to inspire our users, both internal and external. There is a crossover with our research strategic objectives, particularly open scholarship and the research commons. 

We will:

  • Increase the cultural impact and engagement  of our special collections, heritage and archives, through targeted outreach to local and regional communities, a significant and strategic increase in the digital and physical accessibility of our collections and developing our own capacity as research partners (activities: discover our archives, digitisation, exhibitions, outreach, studentships, research grant/AHRC/RLUK fellowship, heritage collections, copyright, Data Protection).
  • Preserve university digital assets thereby reducing the reputational, financial and operational risks of irretrievable loss of university archives, legal documents, compliance records and research outputs (activities: digital preservation, archives, special collections, records management).
  • Increase the visibility and usability of our academic outputs creating opportunities for impact. Supporting academic colleagues with the practicalities of raising the profile of their research for the purpose of engagement, supporting and enabling Knowledge Exchange with expert advice and guidance (activities: licensing, FAIR, community & sector networks, digital platforms, linking physical spaces to research, new methods -podcasts, videos etc., responsible metrics).

Enabling strategies:

  • Our Comprehensive Content Strategy supports open scholarship practices and knowledge without barriers.
  • Workforce Development Strategy - to be developed by our Staff Development Advisory Group (SDAG). This will look at skills development, particularly open and digital scholarship, equality, diversity, inclusion and collaboration. We will put developing a more diverse workforce at the heart of our recruitment practices, proactively promoting training (including apprenticeships, The Higher Education Act, sector body programmes) and embracing hybrid to the greatest extent possible for all staff. We will work closely with professional services and academic departments to provide collaboration and development opportunities for staff at all grades, giving staff a sense of community and belonging across the University.
  • Technology Roadmap - to be developed by new Associate Director Digital Strategies, Research and Engagement, including opportunities for artificial intelligence and machine learning, and challenging the traditional library discovery models.

One University


We will:

  • Establish a sustainability group to work across library and with other PS and University groups/initiatives.
  • Work towards a clear definition of what a ‘sustainable’ library really is. 

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

We will:

  • Engage with University and sector initiatives (RLUK/SCONUL) on increasing diversity in the Library workforce. Actively embrace the true meaning of equality, diversity and inclusion in our workforce and challenge ourselves to live up to our highest ambitions. Build ‘challenge’ into our culture to avoid groupthink.
  • Diversify and engaging with our diverse collections working with students and staff; this includes moving away from traditional classification schemes rooted in the white and/or male dominated past.
  • Explore with students their diverse experiences, perspectives and sense of belonging in our spaces.


We will:

  • Encourage bottom up initiatives from staff and ensure managers allow time for such initiatives, creating an open and transparent culture where everyone is valued. 
  • Ensure SRDS supports the wellbeing of all staff and managers.
  • Support all staff to have opportunities for hybrid working.
  • Support staff development that includes clear progression routes and opportunities for all.
  • Consider apprenticeships and graduate trainees. 
  • Support collaboration and community/social connection. 


We will:

  • Create opportunities to lead collaborations, act in partnership, and/or provide advice.
  • Welcome visitors from the city, region and beyond to our exhibitions, as volunteers and as external members of the Library.

Ask a question

Email: library@sheffield.ac.uk

Phone: +44 114 222 7200

A global reputation

Sheffield is a research university with a global reputation for excellence. We're a member of the Russell Group: one of the 24 leading UK universities for research and teaching.