May 2003 Council on the Libraries minutes
Council on Libraries and Council on Computing
Joint Meeting - May 22, 2003
Faculty Lounge, Hopkins Center, 12:00-1:30 pm
Council on Libraries Members Present: Jeremy Rutter (JR) (Chair), Richard Callahan (RC), Kathryn Cottingham (KC), Robert Ditchfield (RD), Teoby Gomez (TG), Alexandra Halasz (AH), *Larry Levine (LL), *Richard Lucier (RL), *Cyndy Pawlek (CP), *Barry Scherr (BS), Jane Quigley (JQ) (staff)
Council on Computing Members Present: Tom Luxon (TL) (Chair), Paul Gaffney (PG), Andrew Gettinger (AG), Scott Grafton (SG), Nicole Hamilton (NH), *Larry Levine (LL), *Richard Lucier (RL), Barbara Mellert (BM), *Cyndy Pawlek (CP), *Barry Scherr (BS), Thomas Shemanske (TS), Robinson Tryon (RT), Kathleen Moore (KM) (recorder).
[* indicates membership in both councils]
Invited Guests: Jeff Bohrer (JB), Susan Fliss (SF), Jennifer Taxman (JT)
CoL Chair Jerry Rutter opened the meeting by asking all members to introduce themselves. After introductions, CoC Chair Tom Luxon reminded CoC members that their next meeting would be held at noon on Thursday, May 29th. CoC minutes from the last meeting would be approved at that time. CoL minutes from May 8th and from today's meeting will be approved via email since there will be no further CoL meetings this academic year.
1. Public Cluster Discussion
Larry Levine gave an update on the situation with public computer clusters at Dartmouth, as summarized in the meeting agenda. A handout was distributed showing the numbers of computers in various locations before and after the Baker-Berry renovation, and setting out two possible options for dealing with a projected budget shortfall. The Library and Computing Services are seeking advice and guidance from both councils about the future of public computer clusters. LL explained that prior to the construction of the Berry Library and the removal of the Kiewit building, there were approximately 70 public computers, most located in Baker and Kiewit. When Berry Library was constructed, capital funds were included to add 130 computers but not to incrementally increase the ongoing maintenance and repair budget. The computers were added; however, there was no corresponding increase in the maintenance and repair budget. The spreadsheet shows the worst-case scenario results if the maintenance and repair budget remains constant. We will be down to 60 computers (from 203) by the year 2005. A discussion on how to handle the possible decrementing of public computers was held.
Richard Lucier noted that the need for public computers has increased, even though students have their own. One reason may be that the quality and functionality of public computers may be greater than that of their personal computers. He noted that there has been no formal assessment of public computer use, and that there has been no discussion till now of the merits of the different options. RL and LL do not anticipate a problem until FY05, but need lead time to allow for planning to take place. RL noted that the need for funding has been known about for some time, but the issue has not been dealt with to date.
Tom Luxon asked about the spread of laptop versus desktop computers; if the computer clusters dwindled, would laptop use become more prevalent? While the public computers are convenient, it may be that we don't need as many. LL said that the proportion of students using laptops (versus desktops) is about 50% and is increasing, with the highest percentage of laptops among first year students and the lowest percentage among seniors. Alex Halasz pointed out that although first-years are required to own or purchase a computer, they are not required to keep or upgrade them, and may choose not to.
Malcolm Brown noted that two new categories of machines now exist, the instructional center dedicated machines, and the stand-up machines in the Berry main street. The computers have different uses depending on their context. It would be difficult to use second-hand or cast-off computers in these locations. RL noted that while some computers could be pulled out with little impact, like those in the old Map Room, others are more critical - like computers in the stacks, for example. Kathryn Cottingham spoke about the need to keep computer-equipped instructional centers available; these get heavy use for instruction, and even at present levels they are hard to book.
The group discussed the need for usage data. RL suggested having a group collect usage data and report back to the joint Councils in the fall. However, it is necessary first to decide what data to collect, whether observational or exact usage data. Cyndy Pawlek noted that unfortunately no studies exist as to the optimal number of computers per student FTE. The group agreed that observational methods to collect data would be fine and saw no need to gather more exact, and possibly intrusive, statistics.
AH raised the broader question of why no money for maintenance /replacement of the existing number of computer workstations exists, and whether the Councils should accept a funding level from 10 years ago. She pointed out the irony of a newly created Digital Library with no provision for public computers with which to access it. RL agreed that a relatively small amount of money is involved.
Robert Ditchfield stated that software on public computers can present a problem especially in the sciences, where some assignments require specialized software that may not be available on both Windows and Mac platforms. Students need access to public computers that provide access to different platforms. He also remarked on the difficulty of scheduling time in the instructional centers.
Robinson Tryon asked whether the instructional center computers could not be made available for student use in the evenings, when no classes were scheduled. Assimilator programs could "wipe" the computers every evening to keep them to a standard image. He also noted that high-end computers were not needed in every context; that perhaps low-end computers could be installed in locations where the majority of use is email and web surfing. MB responded that maintenance issues would become a serious problem with unsupervised use of the instructional center machines, especially with food consumption. He also pointed out that the greater the differentiation in hardware, generation, or image that exists with the public computers, the more costly and difficult they become to maintain. LL added that new machines are covered under warranty, and if we instead purchase cheap or used machines, they not have the same warranty coverage, and maintenance costs would increase thus canceling out any savings.
Nicole Hamilton noted that the public clusters have evolved the way they have because we have experience with trying several of these alternatives before; allowing students to use computers in instructional centers, and making use of older computers for public use. We have years of experience running public clusters that we shouldn't disregard.
TL asked whether the role of the joint Councils was to recommend the best possible outcome, or the most cost-saving measure, accepting the funding level as expressed. He recommended the former, with the council trying to identify the best possible outcome for the campus and move towards it. RL noted that the renovated Baker-Berry libraries have been in existence now for a year, and that it makes sense at this time to look at use patterns and functionalities. Richard Callahan noted that public perceptions are important as well; the impression on potential students and donors as they walk through the libraries should not be overlooked. It was agreed that a joint study of public computer usage would be undertaken by the Libraries and by Computing Services in the fall, during October, with a report to come before the joint councils, possibly the last week before Thanksgiving.
2. Malcolm Brown introduced the next agenda item, which was to review how the Library and Computing Services are collaborating to meet information needs on campus. Three topics were discussed.
a) Susan Fliss, the Library's Director of Education Programs, and Jeff Bohrer, from Academic Computing, have been collaborating with Blackboard course management software for a year, with the idea that the Library can assist faculty by providing relevant materials such as subject guides, librarian contact information, resource folders, and other Digital Library eResources as components of Blackboard course sites. Computing Services provides support for faculty with the technical aspects of Blackboard, with the Library providing information and support for faculty in integrating library research tools.
Academic Computing and the Library have been collaborating to offer faculty hands-on workshops in Blackboard. Librarians have also been learning to use Blackboard, with particular emphasis on ways library information, resources and services can be integrated into course sites. SF noted that Blackboard provides an opportunity for librarians to expand their contact with students from the traditional 50 minute library research session through such means as a contact listing in a Blackboard site, participating in discussion lists, perhaps dedicating one specifically to library research questions, using the quizzing tool before or after a library instruction session, linking to research guides or relevant resources. The Library can also help with digitizing and uploading information in various media, such as music or video clips. SF distributed a sheet outlining ways that library information resources and links could be integrated into Blackboard course sites. SF and JB may write an article about their experiences with their Blackboard collaboration.
Jerry Rutter asked about viewing courses from other institutions, and about joint teaching efforts with other institutions through Blackboard or some other technology. MB said that someone in the history department is using Internet2 web technologies to teach a course simultaneously at Dartmouth and at Tel Aviv University. There is an advantage in using standard systems for this type of collaboration. TL noted that teaching materials such as syllabi used to be freely available on the web, but now increasingly are closed because of being within systems like Blackboard. He feels that systems such as Blackboard should fill in the gaps by assisting with access to these courses that used to be on the free web. MB noted that MIT's system provides some of what TL is describing, but that not all faculty want to share syllabi and teaching materials. JR asked about the archiving of Dartmouth course sites; RL agreed that Dartmouth needs to develop a campus-wide policy on the archiving of websites. It is less a technological than a policy issue. MB noted that there is already discussion of a repository as a digital asset management system. RL noted that at MIT, it is departments and groups that are expressing interest in archiving their materials rather than individuals. LL agreed that ownership of intellectual property is a continuing issue. JB concluded by noting that Blackboard use has increased steadily across campus, with about 120 courses last term across all schools. Most are basic, some are more transformative in nature, making use of advanced features such as quizzing, group management, and discussion tools.
b) Jennifer Taxman, the Library's Director of Access Services, spoke about the capabilities of the new eReserves module that will become available this fall. EReserves will include access to articles and other formats such as audio files, video clips, and images. Print reserves listings and e-reserves will be available in one place, and can be easily linked in from Blackboard sites. With the next version of the course reserves software, it will be possible to password-protect material at the course level; now it is only possible at the college-level (i.e., the person is a member of the Dartmouth community). With scanning, visual impairment and ADA issues have yet to be worked out. TL asked what was the cut-off point with scanning of materials; RL noted that there will eventually be a base level of service beyond which the Library can not go, unless other funding is available. The Access Services department is developing guidelines to address copyright and procedural issues and to ensure consistent quality.
c) MB briefly mentioned the Integrated Peer Tutoring Center initiative being undertaken jointly by the Library, Computing Services, and the Composition Center as a pilot this fall. This will provide a single point where students can go for assistance from other students who have been trained in a variety of skills, from advanced library research skills to technology skills. The need for such a service has become apparent as compositions and the available tools have become more complex and more technologically challenging. This will be a "one-stop" assistance and referral service to which faculty can send students needing assistance of various types.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:30 pm.
July 09, 2003