February 2003 Council on the Libraries minutes

Council on Libraries
February 4, 2003
Treasure Room, 12:00-1:30 pm

Present: Jeremy Rutter (JR) (Chair), Havah Armstrong-Walther (HAW), Malcolm Brown (MB), Richard Cunningham (RC) (arr. 1:00), Teoby Gomez (TG), Larry Levine (LL), Richard Lucier (RL), Mary Munter (MM), Jane Quigley (JQ) (staff), Sandeep Ramesh (SR), Barry Scherr (BS), Steven Taylor (ST)

Excused: David Becker, Kathryn Cottingham, Robert Ditchfield, William Hickey, Douglas Irwin, Joy Kenseth

Guest: Susan Fliss, Director of Research and Informatics Learning (SF)


The meeting was convened at 12:00.

1. Minutes from the last meeting (Dec. 12, 2002) were adopted.

2. Library Budget Reductions and Impacts
Chair Jerry Rutter turned the meeting over to Richard Lucier for his statement as to the impact of budget reductions on the Library's services and collections. RL distributed a summary of the recently approved Library budget reductions and their impact, together with the Library's statement of principles guiding budget cuts, and a graph depicting the cost of library materials and the effect of materials inflation on the library budget since FY88. RL noted that while the actual numbers are still something of a moving target, the total A&S budget reduction at this time is approximately $628,088, a 4.2% reduction in the Library's budget over FY03 and FY04. This is a smaller reduction than was originally anticipated in August. Ten positions have been eliminated, and two reduced in hours, but there have been no layoffs. All but two of the ten staff people affected have moved into new positions, and it is expected that those remaining will also find new positions, either within the Library or within the campus. The Provost has provided a budget supplement to allow more time for this transition. In all, 8.13 FTE positions have been eliminated-a little over 5% of the Library's total staff. In addition, summer hours for non-exempt [i.e. non-salaried, paid by the hour] employees will be cut to 35 hours/week, and student hours have been reduced.

There has been no reduction in the collections budget; however, RL noted that when this portion of the budget is adjusted for inflation in the cost of library materials, the Library has lost roughly 35% of its purchasing power in this area since 1988, as indicated in the chart. The Library's operations budget, on the other hand, has been reduced by 15% over FY 03 and FY 04, affecting equipment, supplies, and staff development funds.

RL then discussed specific impacts that these cuts will have on services and collections, noting that these will be closely monitored.

Reorganization of the departmental libraries:

o Sanborn will become a reading room managed by the English department; it is not yet known exactly what hours will be kept. Some student hours will be transferred to the English department to assist in this transition, which will probably take place at the end of winter term. Unique materials will be transferred to Baker-Berry, only about 1500 items in all.

o In consultation with the Music Department, it was decided that Paddock Library will have reduced hours in the summer and collection expenditures will be reduced.

o Cook Mathematics library will be closed, and its collection incorporated into Baker-Berry, in a space on the 3rd floor redesigned to accommodate these materials with a gift from the Callendar family. It is expected that this move will be completed by the beginning of fall term.

o Sherman Art library will remain open, with its hours of operation actually increasing by 24 hours per week. Circulation services, reserves, and ILL will move to Baker-Berry, but help at the Sherman service desk will continue to be available most evenings during the week. The Library will continue to recruit for a visual arts librarian, whose main office will be in Sherman.
This organizational restructuring is designed to reduce the number of service points, which are costly for the Library to maintain.
Mary Munter suggested that this summary of budget impacts and library reorganizational steps be published as updates in the Vox, issued periodically to alleviate concerns within the Dartmouth community. JR noted that a one-time summary might be preferable, thus avoiding the impression that the organizational and budget changes are never-ending. The Library's web page might be a more logical place to post final decisions.

Reduction in print and digital collection growth

Reduction in Government Document Depository content and services
At present, the Library maintains a selective Depository status, receiving about 70% of available government publications. In consultation with the Economics, Government, and History Departments, it has been agreed that this will be reduced to about 35%, along with a cutback in staff.

The reduction in materials processing staff means that library materials will be ordered and processed more slowly.

Reorientation of rare book services
Rare book purchases will be made only when a specific endowment exists for that purpose.

The Library will be looking at increased reliance on BorrowDirect partner libraries and exploring collaborative collection development possibilities.

Movement to either print or digital format.
Where sufficient assurance of quality of content and robust archiving exists, the Library will prefer digital to print as a collection format. It is not sustainable to purchase or maintain materials in both formats.

Slower replacement of equipment.
RL noted that this impact will be felt most heavily within about 3 years, as the new equipment installed during the Baker-Berry renovation begins to require upgrading. No real funding exists for the replacement of this equipment.

The Library will continue to monitor impacts on services as yet unknown, as the needs of faculty and students increase and change.
RL added that some restructuring options and tradeoffs were going to have to be considered even without the present budget crisis; resource constraints were unavoidable given the College's increasing number and scope of programs. The former model of Library services and collections is not sustainable in academic institutions.

RL concluded that this has been a difficult period for staff, and that the goal is to move forward now that budgetary decisions have been made final.

Steven Taylor asked if the Library has received any assurances about the College's level of commitment for future years. RL said that it is likely that there will continue to be uncertainty about the budget and the overall economic climate.

In response to a question, RL noted that the inflation charted on the graph is the inflation of the cost of materials, not a more general inflation index. He also pointed out that the graph does not account for the cost of providing duplicate formats (print and digital), primarily among journals.

ST asked about the feasibility of gifts / major donations as a supplementary source of revenue. RL said that the Library has numerous endowments, but that they cannot be looked to for budgetary relief, since the College as a matter of policy reduces the operating budget of the Library by the amount of any dedicated endowment gifts. However, he is active in fundraising efforts and believes that the College sees the Library as a high priority in the upcoming capital campaign.

JR observed that the role of the Council on Libraries is to consider how best to communicate the Library's budgetary decisions to the academic and scholarly community. He regretted that more of the A&S faculty were not able to be present to consider this issue.

RL noted that he has been requested by JR to prepare a formal letter to faculty summarizing the budget cuts and their anticipated effects on services and collections. JR also suggested that the Library needs to consider a mechanism for feedback, to gather information on how much and in what ways the cutbacks have affected individuals. MM noted that a systematic survey might be preferable to a scattering of one-off comments. RL said that in his experience, response to surveys is very low and that a better, more personal approach might be to go to divisional councils and individual departments, as JR and RL did in the fall. In that way it is possible to get a more accurate sense of priorities, to see the interactions between different individuals and groups, and to get a more balanced perspective.

Several aspects of inviting feedback were discussed, including the need to provide several alternative channels for communication, the convenience and accessibility for students of email, and the need to show that the Library is a responsive entity. RL suggested sending out a separate letter to students, as well as to faculty, offering another opportunity to provide feedback, and providing the names and contact information of the appropriate representatives on the CoL, student or faculty. MM offered to assist with reviewing the letters once drafted.

3. 24-hour Photocopy Access
Richard Cunningham asked the CoL to consider a request forwarded to him by the Student Assembly, that there be 24-hour access to photocopy machines as well as the 24-hour study space that now exists. The question put to the CoL was, how to make 24-hour photocopy access available, where to put it and how to service the machines? As to location, it was felt that photocopy access in the Library, where people might have the need to photocopy study materials, made more sense than a place like Collis. Havah Armstrong-Walther noted that GreenPrint is available 24 hours in the Library and that printing and photocopying often go together, so that the GreenPrint area might make a convenient location. RL had no objection in principle, though he noted that the responsible staff person was away at the moment, and would have to be consulted before any commitment was made. He added that the Library would not be able to provide servicing for areas outside the Library proper. Cyndy Pawlek will follow up with RC.

4. More on the Digital Library
After a brief introduction by RL, Susan Fliss continued the demonstration begun during last December's meeting of the soon-to-be-launched Digital Library. She distributed the postcards that every faculty member and student will be receiving as examples of the publicity and outreach efforts undertaken by the Library; there will also be workshops for faculty and students, and it is possible also for librarians to go to department meetings, classes, or research group meetings to introduce the Digital Library to the academic community.

Discussion of specific aspects of the Digital Library followed. The labels of the site's sections (e.g., About the Library, Library Services) were criticized as not sufficiently informative. With regard to eResources search results, it was noted that some duplicate titles may appear, especially in the case of electronic journals; to some extent this is a result of different vendors/content providers providing access to the same title through their journal packages. HAW asked if it were possible to search several databases at once (federated searching); eResources does not provide that capability, as it is a means of providing access to individual electronic resources. The eResource search box allows you to search for resources, rather than within them. However, RL noted that that capability will be forthcoming with initiatives currently under development like the Scholars Portal.

Submitted by:
Jane Quigley
March 6, 2003