General Membership Meeting Minutes

Rebecca R. Malek-Wiley, Secretary

WESS Newsletter
Spring 2005
Vol. 28, no. 2

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WESS General Membership Meeting
Monday, January 17, 2005, 8:30-9:30 AM
Marriott Copley Place, Grand Ballroom J

Thea Lindquist, WESS Member-at-Large, opened the meeting at 8:33 AM, welcoming those attending. Since we had only one hour for the meeting, with 15 discussion group and committee reports to cover in addition to announcements and updates, she asked that these time constraints be kept in mind.

Tom Izbicki, WESS Chair, presented a few quick points. He said that he was working to try to keep the scheduling of WESS meetings as compact as possible, due to considerations of travel time and budgets. He was still working on scheduling meetings for the Chicago [June 2005] conference. Because ACRL had removed its restrictions on time slots for scheduling meetings, he would be able to make changes, so any draft schedule for Chicago sent out previously would be subject to correction.

We did still need think to about our ability to continue holding multiple meetings, twice a year. ACRL was testing virtual software for holding virtual meetings. He asked groups to think about the question, for the future, whether all needed to meet twice a year or whether we could do some business remotely -- which could reduce pressure on travel budgets -- or meet for lunch, which would reduce pressure on scheduling meeting times.

Discussion Group Reports

Cataloging: Chair Thom Edlund reported that the group had met on Sunday, 4:30-6:00 PM. Rowena Griem had given a report on her experiences at the 2004 IFLA Conference in Buenos Aires. There had been a presentation from Charlene Kellsey about a graduate school cataloguing internship in her department, which tied in with a discussion originally initiated in San Diego [Midwinter 2004] on the recruitment of personnel with foreign-language skills into technical services librarianship.

The main discussion, which had taken up most of the time, had been based on Minna Popkin’s presentation at the Scandinavian Discussion Group meeting [please see that group report below]. Participants had addressed issues involved in “cannibalizing” cataloguing records from European national libraries, such as Fennica (Finnish National Library, Helsinki); Libris (Swedish union catalogue at the Royal Library Sweden/Swedish National Library); and the Deutsche Bibliothek.

Classical, Medieval and Renaissance: Jerry Heverly paraphrased a report prepared by Karen Green (Columbia), CMR Discussion Group chair. The group had met on Saturday, 4:00-5:30 PM; 25 people had attended. There had been two main parts. Consuelo Dutschke (Columbia) had spoken about the Digital Scriptorium database, a collaborative digitization project, which provides multiple images and extensive metadata for a wide array of mediaeval manuscripts housed in North American repositories. She had described the project’s evolution, technical structure, workflow guidelines, scholarly uses, and future directions.

A discussion had followed on balancing librarianship and scholarship: working as a librarian and trying to squeeze in research. Topics had included the relevance of faculty status (or lack of faculty status), the kinds of scholarly projects attempted, institutional support, whether research is in scholarly subject disciplines or library science, and time management concerns.

College and Medium-Sized Libraries: While Hank Harken, CML chair, was not yet present, Jon Marner noted that Hank had briefly told him that because the meeting had been listed simply as “College and Medium-Sized Libraries” and many had not seen the WESS connection, many directors of college and medium-sized libraries who were not asociated with WESS had attended. The meeting had turned into a discussion of general concerns that those types of libraries have. Thea commented that it sounded like a good place to recruit new WESS members.

Germanists: Chair Sam Dunlap reported that about 34 people had attended the meeting on Sunday, 9:30-11:00 AM. The primary discussion topic had been outreach and instruction, comparing various teaching activities at different campuses. Areas of the far-ranging discussion had included bibliographic instruction and information literacy -- how those two complemented each other, or how one had supplanted the other (campuses were very different in this regard); library portals such as MyLibrary -- including the role of the library and providing the top five resources by discipline linked to library catalogues; and the limitations of federated-searching search engines.

Romance Languages: Chair Bryan Skib reported that the group had met late Saturday morning; more than 39 people had attended (39 had signed in). There had been an informal discussion on a number of topics, including cooperative acquisitions and collection development projects in Romance-language materials. Lynn Shirey, Acting Librarian for Latin America, Spain, and Portugal in the Harvard College Library, had described a cooperative acquisitions project of libraries with Latin American collections. Harvard and Yale had divided responsibilities for Mexico and Chile, based on vendor support; while the cooperation would not necessarily save money, they hoped that it would provide more comprehensve coverage of materials from those countries.

Other topics had included planning for the new French-North American Resources Project; program ideas for the group’s Chicago meeting (one possible general theme, since ARTFL would be in close proximity, being the collaborative development of electronic resources, focused on text-creation partnerships in languages other than English); and the frequency of meetings -- there had been a strong feeling, at least as an initial response, that the Romance Languages Discussion Group must meet face to face twice a year.

The group was still looking for a vice-chair.

Scandinavian: Chair Gordon Anderson reported that the group had met on Sunday, 2:00-3:30 PM. There had been two presentations. Minna Popkin, Technical Services Librarian, Germanic Division, Harvard College Library, had made a presentation on using records from the national libraries of Finland and Sweden for creating brief catalogue records; her extremely thorough presentation had covered macros that helped to deal with the inevitable problems in transcribing MARC codes, diacritics, etc. In using records from the Fennica database, Minna worked together with bibliographer Charles Fineman. This very interesting project, while it still involved grey issues, provided food for thought.

Sem Sutter (University of Chicago) had described his trip to the Göteborg Book Fair in September 2004, which he had attended partly courtesy of the Nedbook Award. He had provided a very poetic, metaphoric description of the fair. (Gordon commented that some smaller European book fairs provided a refreshing change from the Frankfurt Book Fair, even while it also had its advantages.)

Social Sciences and History: Chair David Duncan reported that the group had met Sunday, 4:30-6:00 PM, and that those attending and contributing had included many new to SSH meetings. One topic had been the WESS Social Sciences Web; as editor, he was asking for volunteers interested in taking on specific subject pages. The Gender Studies and Economics pages had been taken on by Kimberly Clarke, University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Kimberly was actually a member of the ACRL Women’s Studies Section (WSS); David had discussed this matter with senior WESSWeb editor Reinhart Sonnenburg, who had agreed that their interest in new recruits extended to volunteers from other sections to help with WESSWeb, who then might also join WESS.

A major discussion topic had been serials and cost inflation: serials review projects; how to deal with shrinking budgets; some different strategies for dealing with different types of fund codes; dealing with vendors; how to differentiate different subject areas; etc. Representatives of different sizes of institutions, with varying viewpoints, had been involved in the discussion. Since we all needed to face these issues, it had been suggested that we might want to consider this topic as a larger group issue, perhaps not just covering Western Europe but also ACRL-wide.

Committee Reports

2005 Conference Planning: Committee chair Heather Ward announced that the program would be held on Monday, June 27, 2005, from 10:30 AM to noon. The topic would be “Digitizing Medieval Manuscripts: East and West,” reflecting the co-sponsorship of SEES. Three speakers would be included (two had confirmed, and they hoped that the third would soon sign the official letter). Dr. David Birnbaum (University of Pittsburgh) would speak about a text-encoding initiative of Slavic works. David Reynolds (Johns Hopkins) would talk about the born-digital Roman de la Rose Project. Dr. Colum Hourihane (Princeton) would describe the recent addition of digital images to the Index of Christian Art. At this committee meeting [Saturday, 11:30 AM-12:30 PM], the main topic had been publicity.

[Secretary’s note: There was no report from the 2006 Conference Program Planning Committee, which had begun its work.]

Coutts-Nijhoff International West European Study Grant Jury: The committee chair, Past WESS Chair Kati Radics, reported that the committee had met very early [8:00 AM] on Saturday, to review five applications. The decision had been extremely difficult, as the applications had all been excellent. Because ACRL reserved the right to publicise the Coutts-Nijhoff Award first, she was not allowed to tell us the winner, but she would put a message out on WESS-L in two or three weeks. Kati also encouraged all those who had not won the award this year to resubmit an application next year.

French-North American Resources Project (FNARP): Tom Kilton provided some background on the generation of the FNARP. At the WESS Paris conference, participants had approved a resolution that a feasibility study be set up to look into the creation of a French-North American (or Francophone-North American) Resources Project, under the umbrella of the Global Resources Network (GRN), which had migrated from ARL to CRL.

In addition to Tom himself, the members of this group were Sarah Wenzel, Beth Remak-Honnef (University of California, Santa Cruz), Yvonne Boyer (Vanderbilt), Barbara Walden, Bryan Skib, Kathy Hunter Rutter, Kati Radics, Sarah Sussman, Dick Hacken, and Denis Lacroix (University of Alberta). A planning meeting [held Saturday, 2:00-4:00 PM] had also been attended by 13 guests. Eudora Loh, the chair of GRN, and James Simon, the point person at CRL for international progams, had provided very valuable insights into what might appeal to the executive boards of ARL and CRL.

Three areas of concentration had been identified, which both committee members and some guests had agreed to work on. Participants had discussed what the major goals should be and identified partners on the French side. There had been a brief report on funding.

Membership: Chair Candace Miller reported that the Membership Committee had spent most of its meeting time discussing arrangements for the annual cruise in Chicago. The arrangements were progressing; they had narrowed the selection down to a specific charter company and hoped to sign a contract very soon. Due to the increase in boat chartering and catering expenses, this year the committee planned to raise the price charged for the cruise from $25 to $30, to offset some of the costs. (Sarah Wenzel mentioned that part of the reason for the increased catering cost was their plan for an open bar.)

Looking at ACRL membership statistics, there had been a slight increase in WESS membership, up from 518 to 551 personal members, which represented a small but significant increase.

Nominating: Chair Sam Dunlap reported that this committee did not actually meet at Midwinter, since all of its work had needed to be completed by Fall 2004. Members Dale Askey, Ann Snoeyenbos (Project Muse), Bruce Swann (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), and Reinhart Sonnenburg had contacted a number of WESS members and had put together a really tremendous slate for the next election. Sam thanked all who had considered running. They were compiling a list of people to consider asking again to run, as well as of people who did not want to be asked again, which they would pass on to future Nominating Committees. He asked those interested in being considered to talk to vice-chair/chair-elect Helene Baumann.

Publications: Thea invited people to attend the Publications Committee meeting, which was still to be held that afternoon from 2 to 4 PM. She provided a summary of the agenda, which would include updates on the WESS Newsletter, the Directory, WESSWeb, and the Paris conference papers, as well as a discussion on the “ALA Internal Management Guidelines: Hosting Unit Web Content Maintained Off-Site.”

Recruitment to the Profession: Chair Jerry Heverly reported that on Saturday morning at 8, the committee members and four guests had met. They had discussed the Web site that the group had been building over the past year and a half, agreeing on numerous changes in its layout and contents, which they planned to implement by the time of the Chicago conference. They had also discussed and made numerous revisions to working drafts of two tool kits: one for librarians who wanted to make presentations on recruitment at their local institutions, the other for those making presentations at learned societies. The revised toolkits would be posted on the Web site, under a header such as “Recruitment Resources for Librarianship.” In an effort to prepare for a publicity blitz about the committee and the Web site, they were drafting a two-page press release, covering what the committee does, how the Web site can be useful for a variety of people, etc. During the summer and fall, the committee planned to distribute this information on a variety of library and academic lists.

The strong consensus of members of this committee was that it only needed to meet once each year, because members had found that they worked together well remotely, through e-mail, conference calls, and so forth.

Research and Planning: Chair Charlene Kellsey reported that at this committee meeting (Saturday 2:00-4:00 PM), they had tried a new approach, namely, having presentations on research in the field (partly inspired by the experience at the Paris conference). A call for papers had been sent out in the fall; while there had been only two applicants, both had very good projects, so both had been asked to speak. Jim Niessen (Rutgers) had described his research on German book acquisitions in Hungarian research libraries, including both qualitative and quantitative indicators. Heather Moulaison (Southwest Missouri State University) had discussed her research in progress on French university libraries and access to information in the humanities. She had described some problems that she had encountered in her research, leading her to change its direction. At the Research and Planning committee meeting, she had asked for and received some good suggestions for her research from the audience.

The ACRL Research Committee had requested input for a compilation of the top research questions, so people attending the committee meeting had done some brainstorming, accumulating a list of potential research topics. The list would still need to be organised further.

Another topic of discussion had been a clearinghouse or point of information for foreign librarians interested in doing internships in the US, which had grown out of a request made to Kati Radics by the librarian at the Goethe-Institut New York. Hank Harken would work on this project; his library had hosted a German intern for six months, so he was aware of some problems that could arise and could provide advice on matters such as immigration-related paperwork. Charlene asked any one interested in volunteering for this project to contact her or Hank. Further information would be posted on WESSWeb.

The committee had decided that it would again call for presentations on research at the 2005 Annual Conference, leaving the topic wide open to encourage as much participation as possible. Charlene encouraged anyone considering making a presentation to keep this opportunity in mind, as a friendly and supportive forum for obtaining suggestions from one’s peers to help with work in progress.

Editors of Paris conference papers: Tom Kilton, as chair of the group editing the papers from the Paris conference, reported that they had had some difficulty in getting all of the papers delivered to them but that only four authors still needed to send theirs in. ACRL had accepted the conference papers for publication; Tom was working with Hugh Thompson as ACRL editor. The publication would be of high technical quality, on good-quality paper and retaining the original illustrations.

Updates, Issues, and Matters Arising

Reference Reviews Annual: Gordon Anderson put out a call for abstracters, particularly those working with German. He explained that this resource consisted of brief reviews, heavily German-oriented because of its sources; abstractors translated those reviews into English and condensed them. There was also an original review section, which Jeffry Larson currently edited. Gordon asked people to consider writing original reviews, as well; the publication depended entirely on volunteer reviewers, and submitting reviews was a very good way to get research and scholarly activity onto a résumé or into an annual file for promotion.

Frankfurt Book Fair: Gordon reported that, while he had not attended the 2004 fair, he had heard that it had been quite successful. The Arab countries had been the guests of honor; in other words, there was no longer a specifically European orientation. In 2005, the guest of honor would be Korea. As always, there had been a plethora of literary activities.

The winners of the ACRL stipend award to attend the Fair had included three people who were not WESS members, which Gordon was very pleased about. Participation at the Fair was really an ACRL activity, based on ACRL funding; we would need to redouble our efforts to persuade ACRL that it was a worthwhile activity, which it should continue to support. Helene Baumann commented on the need for better coordination, since ALA had a separate booth at the fair. Tom Izbicki said that ALA’s mission at the fair was different from the WESS mission. He had needed to write a report explaining how participation in the Fair related to the ACRL and ALA strategic plans. He described the inclusion of non-WESS ACRL representatives as one of our real successes during this 2004/2005 year; since WESS members had taken the initiative in establishing the presence at Frankfurt, it represented something that we could do for the profession at large.

Nedbook Northwest Europe Award: Gordon also reported that he had talked to the Nedbook representative attending this conference. Nedbook managers were reassessing the award and how it fitted into their needs and goals. Gordon’s impression was that their concern was financial, as European vendors naturally needed to look very carefully at their expenses these days. He had thanked the representative very profusely for Nedbook’s support in the past and had expressed the hope that they would continue to support the award in the future.

Dick Hacken pointed out, and Gordon agreed, that one factor in their decision could be whether they received applications; it would certainly be easier for them to cut it off if they were not getting applications and were thus not seeing evidence of interest. Tom Izbicki said that one priority should be to clarify the definition of the scope of fairs that Nedbook would cover.

WESS at ACRL: Gordon announced that the upcoming ACRL Conference would be held in Minneapolis, 7-10 April 2005. WESS would not have a formal presence there, but Marcia Pankake and he would organise an afternoon event at the University of Minnesota, not a long ride from the convention center, that would provide an opportunity for academic librarians, faculty, and graduate students in European studies to meet. Any vendors attending the conference would be very welcome. They hoped that this gathering would augment the work of the Committee on Recruitment to the Profession. They would also welcome other participants in this event, anticipating that the cost would be minimal and the rewards great.

Heather asked how many people planned to attend the ACRL conference; only two people raised their hands. She said that librarians at her institution were limited to two national conferences annually, so if she attended both the ALA Annual and Midwinter conferences, she could not attend ACRL.

WESS Newsletter: Sarah announced that the deadline for the upcoming Spring issue would be 3 March, which was early because of the ACRL conference. Individual column editors would communicate their deadlines. She also invited contributions, whether short news items or a longer article, and urged people to take copies of the most recent issue, which she had brought to the meeting. Alternatively, as Dick mentioned, one could consult the full version online or print one’s own copy from the PDF version. Sarah requested that people thank all of the vendors who support the Newsletter, without whom neither a short nor a long version would be possible.

Recruitment Committee flyer: Charlene said that printed copies of the flyer on recruitment that the committee had produced last year were still available; they would probably not print any more. It was also available on the Recruitment Committee’s Web site. Reinhart suggested that it could be put up on WESSWeb, as well.

Next WESS international conference: Jeffry Larson asked whether a committee had been formed to look into a prospective international conference in five to seven years. Kati clarified, for the benefit of the audience, that a resolution had been passed that the possibility of such a conference be explored, with the idea that it would be advisable to have another international conference somewhere in Western Europe in about five to seven years. Her suggestion was that we could start working on it next year; although we did indeed need to start planning very early, we should first publish the papers from the Paris conference. Jeffry mentioned that some vendors had already begun asking about the next conference, only half-jokingly.

Publicising WESS to new ALA members: Brian Vetruba said that, as the NMRT-ACRL (WESS) Liaison, he had some ideas about publicising WESS to new members. He asked people to contact him if they had any suggestions in this area, mentioning that he was listed in the WESS directory.

WESS Directory: Seizing upon this segue, Reinhart urged any one in the room who was not already in the directory to submit an entry. Corrections and updates should also be sent in.

Kati expressed the concern of the computer people at her institution that one reason that she received so many junk e-mail messages was because her e-mail address was in the directory, so that crawlers picked it up. Reinhart, however, replied that they had encrypted information on WESSWeb and had put the e-mail addresses in not as “mail-to” links, so that crawlers currently could not find them (at least until intelligent enough crawlers were devised). Tom Izbicki commented that some people might already have been “harvested” in the past.

Closing: Thea invited people to attend the Executive Committee meeting, to be held at 10:00 AM. The General Membership meeting adjourned at 9:28 AM.

Editor: Sarah G. Wenzel

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