March 2003 Council on the Libraries minutes
Council on Libraries
March 6, 2003
Treasure Room, 12:00-1:30 pm
Present: Jeremy Rutter (JR) (Chair), Havah Armstrong-Walther (HAW), David Becker (DB), Malcolm Brown (MB), Kathryn Cottingham (KC), Robert Ditchfield (RD), Teoby Gomez (TG), William Hickey (WH), Douglas Irwin (DI), Joy Kenseth (JK), Larry Levine (LL), Richard Lucier (RL), Cyndy Pawlek (CP), Jane Quigley (JQ) (staff), Barry Scherr (BS)
Excused: Richard Callahan, Mary Munter, Sandeep Ramesh, Stephen Taylor
The meeting was convened at 12:00.
1. Approval of Minutes of February 4 Meeting
Minutes from the last meeting (February 4, 2003) were adopted. At Chair Jerry Rutter's suggestion, it was agreed that minutes in future will indicate which members are not present. It will be helpful if Council members who are unable to attend would let Julie Blain know in advance.
2. Comments on R. Lucier's letter to Faculty re Impacts of the Budget Cuts
JR invited comments and feedback on the letter recently sent to all faculty regarding the impact of the Library's budget cuts on services, staff, collections, and equipment. This letter was sent in advance to CoL members and has been posted on the CoL website and on the Library website. Robert Ditchfield asked for clarification on two points: first, that there will in fact be no mathematics library in the Kemeny building, when it opens (this was confirmed by Richard Lucier), and second, with respect to the cutbacks in government documents collections and services, how will the Library arrange for access?
Cyndy Pawlek explained that the Library's goal is to reduce the number of print documents added to the Library's collection in this area. She noted that the government is itself turning increasingly to electronic publishing formats. CP stated that the Library is seeking to reduce the size of the government documents collection partly because of reduced staff with which to process, catalog, and generally manage these documents, and partly because of storage space concerns. Now that John Cocklin has returned to the Government Documents Librarian position, he will be working with interested users and groups to consider how best to provide access. He will also develop guides and finding aids to assist in identifying and locating government documents, which is often a challenge. RD asked if there were a plan to reduce the Library's current paper holdings of government publications; CP answered that no wholesale deselection decisions were being made, and that government publications were being treated like any other type of material in that regard.
RL noted that he and Cyndy Pawlek had met with faculty from several departments - Economics, Political Science, Government, and from the Rockefeller Center, and were informed by these groups that the level of depository status (i.e., how much government material is automatically received by the library) was less important than having knowledgeable and skilled staff available. He added that while both Government Documents positions had originally been recommended to be cut, after these discussions one position was restored when the importance of this service was made clear.
RD stated that in the sciences, government publications include important sources of data such as the publications of the National Bureau of Standards. These should continue to be readily available for quick reference, not after a four-day wait. RL concurred, adding that maps and geological data were also of great importance in the physical sciences. Doug Irwin suggested that, given concerns about space, many of the government publications on the first floor of Baker Library might be moved to the Storage Library, as they appeared to be little used and, in his view, the microfiche were much more useful in general.
RL noted that only two comments in response to the letter to faculty had been received, and that he would welcome more. Council members are encouraged to pass along any feedback that they receive.
3. Special Collections: Transition Plan; an Initial Discussion of Consultative Process and Future Directions
Joy Kenseth asked for clarification on the section of the letter regarding Rauner Special Collections, noting that the phrase "archive and manuscript collections" seemed inadequate to describe the entire range and importance of rare materials held at Rauner, which include incunabula and rare illustrated books, among other things. RL responded that this term, which is standard among research libraries, denotes the two main types of material held in Rauner, the college archive and non-college materials. JK went on to comment on the critical role in scholarship at Dartmouth played by the Rauner collection and the significance of the loss of Special Collections Librarian Phil Cronenwett. She expressed her grave concern that the Rauner collection not incur harm under the Library budget cuts and that Rauner should continue to be supported.
RL agreed with JK's comment that Phil Cronenwett has played a unique role in the Library and in the institution as a whole, and invited all Council members to attend a reception in his honor to be held on March 13.
Bill Hickey (WH) brought up the question of whether Rauner Special Collections was a niche issue, of concern to a small number of vocal people, or whether it was indeed of broad significance to Dartmouth as a whole.
RL distributed a transition plan outlining the transfer of responsibilities upon Phil Cronenwett's departure and the establishment of a consultative process by which to consider the role of special collections in the context of the overall mission of the Library in supporting scholarship and teaching at Dartmouth. He hopes to recruit for the position by the summer, in order to have new leadership in place by January 2004. In response to the question raised by WH, RL distributed a three-page list prepared by Phil Cronenwett of special collections users who might have an interest in discussing the role of special collections at Dartmouth, ranging from extensive to casual users of the collection. He further noted that the disciplinary focus of the users is very broad, including some from the biomedical and medical faculty with an interest in rare book materials in their disciplines.
Among the issues that need to be considered over time:
Rauner has outgrown its space, and in fact Rauner materials are now occupying half a floor in Baker-Berry.
There is a very significant backlog in processing materials that have been acquired, so that these are in effect invisible to the community. He noted that this is a different, more labor-intensive process than for mainstream library materials.
DI asked what was causing the pressure on space, the Dartmouth archives or the rare books and materials? RL answered that both types of material are contributing to the space pressures at Rauner. He explained that the Dartmouth archives are of two types-those that relate to the history of the institution, and others that are more strictly administrative in nature. (The latter go to Records Management for keeping, but when they are due to be discarded by Records Management, a portion of them does come into Rauner to be added to the collection.) RL noted that Dartmouth College records are actually used quite heavily, as for the upcoming capital campaign. Space pressures are not likely to be relieved in the near term by the use of electronic storage media. The College has considered off-site storage options, but storage hasn't been a high priority for the College in the past.
RL observed that it is appropriate to look at these and other issues now, as is customary in anticipation of recruitment for an important position. He suggested as one possible approach an open meeting with groups of interested parties to discuss concerns and needs regarding special collections at Dartmouth. There is a need to look at priorities between scholarly and historical materials and administrative materials, keeping in mind the need for special handling of special collections materials (climate control, etc.). There is also the issue of external users, and a need to consider the extent to which we should collect and provide services to support external users in addition to our own.
JK emphasized that Rauner Special Collections Library is analogous to the Hood Museum, with unique materials and a unique role in scholarship at Dartmouth. She suggested that the care, collection, curating, and overall policies of Rauner should be guided more in keeping with the principles governing a museum, as Rauner is very different than other parts of the Library. Provost Scherr noted that it would be useful to look at models in place at other institutions. RL stated that information on various models of managing special collections is available from the Association of Research Libraries (ARL).
RL reminded the Council that the need is to review, not necessarily to change, any policy or issues of concern having to do with special collections, and that he has an obligation to raise these issues. He is seeking guidance from the Council and a reaffirmation from the College as to the level of service it wishes to support. He noted that other institutions do provide examples of other service models, in particular regarding external users of special collections. Kathryn Cottingham brought up the possibility of a fee-for-service model for external users of special collections, and RL noted that this was one common solution.
Havah Armstrong-Walther asked how service is provided at Rauner - does one need appointments for access? RL answered that it is typical to arrange a visit in advance, because special collections access and service can be quite time-intensive for the staff. Rauner has been quite flexible about providing access. JR noted that it would be simple to get information from the Hood Museum regarding levels of staffing and service, if it were felt that the analogy between the Hood and Rauner Special Collections were useful. RL noted that he believes there is a strong relationship between special collections and other areas of the Library, and that special collections is one bridge between the Library and the Hood. It is remarkable that undergraduates have access to this type of primary source material.
In response to a question raised earlier, JK emphasized that while Rauner Special Collections may be of direct relevance to only a relatively small number of the faculty, the impact on students was large through teaching and special projects. Exhibitions also reach a broad community.
RL proposed meetings with groups of interested users of special collections, as were held with the proposed budget cuts, to assemble a list of concerns and needs. WH asked what outcome to these conversations was desired - restructured access, reduced hours, different levels of service? RL responded that the need is for a general statement of direction from faculty, not specific details. The desired outcome is to provide a foundation for recruiting new leadership.
RL spoke about the potential initiative under discussion with the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and the Mellon Foundation to establish post-doctoral fellowships for humanities scholars in Rauner; this is an opportunity for library staff to benefit by working closely with scholars in their fields, and an effort to bring scholars into special collections positions in the library profession. These will probably be two-year appointments. The hope is that the initiative will be co-sponsored by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS).
RD asked if continued funding would be available after the grant funds ran out, or whether Dartmouth would take over support for the program; RL answered that it would initially be a 5-year commitment, with no guarantee of continued support after that. David Becker noted that funds could probably be raised at that point. RL pointed out that Dartmouth has provided very generous support for Rauner in the past; at some institutions special collections libraries are supported entirely by external funds and gifts.
4. Digital and Paper Copies of Journals: Disposition of Duplicate Copies
DI raised the issue of print copies of journals available through JSTOR, and asked what the Library intended to do with the print versions of these journals. Although he would prefer for the Library to house them, he stated that the Economics Department would offer to house a selected group of them rather than see them discarded. RL answered that it was usual for the Library to re-sell unwanted or duplicate journal issues, but that he had no objection in principle to transferring these to departments.
RL stated that there is definitely a space problem in the Library. In response to a question, he noted that material that is discarded is usually either duplicate material (i.e. second copies); gifts that may not be chosen for the collection; or items such as journals that are available in multiple formats. He pointed out that in the latter case, the electronic version must meet certain standards of quality, and the publisher must meet standards of reliability and assured permanent access before the electronic version is considered an acceptable substitute for print. JSTOR provides a model where the Library feels confident in the robustness of continued, permanent access to the electronic version. Print journal runs are not being discarded where there is no acceptable digital version.
ScienceDirect, the aggregation of electronic journal content provided by Elsevier publishers, is another major electronic journal collection from which the Library has purchased permanent access to backfiles of the digital content. Provost Scherr mentioned a recent incident where Elsevier withdrew an article after publication because of questions about the scientific integrity of the data; RL noted that he believed that negative publicity and pushback from the library community would eventually force them to reconsider that policy.
DI asked for clarification about whether print journals that were in JSTOR were being removed. RL confirmed that most JSTOR journals would probably be withdrawn from the Library. DI suggested that the Library consult with departments when journals are going to be removed from the shelves; others suggested that more than a single department should be consulted, as some of these titles are of cross-disciplinary interest. Some discussion ensued about how best to communicate to faculty on occasions when print journals were going to be removed from the Library. RL observed that it would be best to avoid a situation where each journal decision was revisited; rather it would be better to have a general announcement made or posted on the Library's website. The Committee affirmed that it endorsed this policy as pragmatic as well as sensitive to scholarly needs.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:30.