October 2002 Council on the Libraries minutes

Council on Libraries
October 15, 2002
Treasure Room, 12:00-1:30 pm

Present: Jeremy Rutter (JR) (Chair), Havah Armstrong-Walther (HAW), David Becker (DB), Malcolm Brown (MB), Robert Ditchfield (RD), Teoby Gomez (TG), Douglas Irwin (DI), Joy Kenseth (JK), Richard Lucier (RL), Mary Munter (MM), Cyndy Pawlek (CP), Jane Quigley (JQ) (staff), Barry Scherr (BS)

The meeting was convened at 12:00. Minutes from the Sept. 26, 2002 CoL meeting were approved.

1. 2001/02 Final Report of Council on Libraries

Jerry Rutter noted that the final report of the Council on Libraries from 2001/02, which had been distributed to CoL members prior to the meeting, had been submitted by last year's chair, Jim Aronson, for review.

2. Update on Fiscal Situation: Discussion of Next Steps

JR turned the meeting over to Richard Lucier for an update on the Library's handling of the budget situation.

RL distributed the current version of the Library's policy document, "The Challenges of Current Fiscal Realities" (October 15, 2002), stating that he wished to address both the process and the substance of the steps the Library was taking to address the budget situation. He drew the Council's attention to the following points in the current version of the document: 1) the detailed information about the amount of the budget cuts, which had not been available previously; 2) in the section, "Principles to Guide Budget Cuts," there is further elaboration of principle (8) regarding the possibility of layoffs; and 3) the section entitled "Chronology of Consultation." He noted that while time constraints for the submission of budget reduction proposals are proceeding in a linear fashion, the concurrent process of consultation with multiple groups and individuals is much more complex and circular.

RL then turned to the substance of the steps that the Library has proposed to meet the budget cuts. These are steps that mostly concern principles (2) and (3) as outlined in the document, having to do with the balance between library collections and services, and the balance between distributed and centralized models of collections and services. He noted that for many years the Library's model had been one of highly personalized services at distributed points. This model has been evolving for some time, largely due to advances in technology. Examples are the move towards the provision of interlibrary loan services through a central service point, and the newly introduced library-wide Borrow Direct service. Reference librarians continue to provide personalized information services through liaison and outreach into academic departments. RL pointed out that because Baker-Berry has just undergone extensive renovation and enhancement of its facilities, the opportunity exists to take another look at library sites serving the humanities in particular. He noted that each of these sites presents a different set of circumstances, serving a different clientele, with different issues concerning facilities, collections development, and the provision of services.

Sanborn: RL met with English department chair Peter Travis and asked for the department's priorities and recommendations with regard to three factors: the vacant bibliographer position for English and American literature, support for the collection in these areas, and Sanborn as a library service point. The department requested continued support for the collection and a bibliographer as vital for their research and teaching. The department agreed to assume responsibility for maintaining Sanborn as a reading room. The portion of the collection in Sanborn that is unique (about 2000 volumes, mostly poetry) will be integrated into the Baker-Berry collection, and remaining course reserves will also move to Baker-Berry. This solution preserves the area as a study and reading space.

Mary Munter, Barry Scherr, and Jerry Rutter asked for clarification on several details of this change. RL clarified as follows: the library will no longer staff Sanborn House, and it will no longer house unique collections. Volumes that do remain in Sanborn will not appear in the library catalog, as the library would have no oversight or control over them. Hours that Sanborn would be open would depend on the English department, though a block of student hours has been offered to the department. Reserves would be offered through Baker-Berry, with audiovisual materials available through the Jones Media Center.

Sherman Art Library: RL has met with Ada Cohen, Chair of the Art History Department, to discuss issues relating to Sherman. He asked her to speak to the department and determine the department's priorities and preferences regarding: 1) a vacant bibliographer position, 2) support for the art history collection and 3) the facility and services available through Sherman. The proposal arrived at will allow the Library to continue to recruit for an art history bibliographer and support the collection, in accordance with the department's preferences, by making adjustments in Sherman's point-of-access outside the normal business day and services. Sherman's circulation desk will continue to be staffed, by student employees only, during regular hours (roughly 8:00am-5:00pm M-F), and Sherman will be open all the hours that Berry is open, (resulting in 24 more hours per week of access than it has at present). Entry through Carpenter Hall will continue during the day, but on weekends and evenings access will be through Berry only. RL noted that in earlier discussions with the art history department, it had been agreed that interlibrary loan services and the circulation function would be transferred to Berry; in addition, under this proposal, the Art History department's course reserves would move to Baker-Berry. Special collections would continue to be housed at Sherman under lock and key, with keys provided to faculty for direct access.

Paddock Music Library: RL noted that Paddock presents a very different situation because of its greater distance from Baker-Berry and because of the diverse materials housed there, including print monographs, musical scores, and audio materials (CDs, etc.). He has met with Larry Polansky to identify issues surrounding any possible changes to Paddock. Options still under discussion include reduced support for the music library collection (RL noted that there exist endowed funds for this collection, so the impact of cuts will be lessened); and curtailed hours and services.

RL stressed that in his view many of these changes would have occurred over time in any event, and that the present budget situation is speeding up the pace of change.

Commenting on these proposals, Joy Kenseth spoke emphatically about the detrimental impact that changes in the existing organization of Sherman library would have on the nature and quality of the teaching experience for herself and other members of her department. She noted that in art history, direct and quick physical access to print volumes containing visual materials is essential to the learning experience, much as a laboratory is an essential part of education in the sciences. JK asked Provost Scherr to clarify how the apportionment of budget cuts was decided upon, noting that in her view these cuts were harmful to the quality of teaching at Dartmouth.

Provost Scherr reminded the CoL that the revenue from the endowment constitutes some 40% of the budget, and that while over the last 4 years there have been significant budget increases, there is now a shortfall, and every effort has been made to distribute the inevitable, mandatory cuts fairly. He further noted that the Library has the largest budget under his area of control.

In response to a question about the size of the endowment, Dave Becker commented that it is the income from the endowment (averaged over 12 fiscal quarters), not the endowment itself, that provides budget revenue. This explains how the endowment itself can be going up while the income from it is decreasing during the present economic downturn.

Robert Ditchfield inquired about the disposition of the increase to the budget, during the years that saw an increase. Provost Scherr responded that the largest share went into the Dean of Faculty area, increasing both the number of faculty positions and bringing their salaries more into line with those at peer institutions. Within the Provost's area, increases went to the Library, at roughly 8% increase per year, and to Computing, with more modest increases in other areas.

JR and RL both urged the CoL to continue to focus on the issue of how to deal with the current financial constraints that the Library in particular is facing.

Cook Library: Moving on to the next in his series of proposals, RL brought up the issue of the Cook mathematics library and its future status. He is scheduled to meet with the Chair of the Math department tomorrow [October 16, 2002] but has not yet had a chance to discuss the issue with him. There exists the possibility of integrating the math collection into Baker-Berry; the physical proximity of Baker-Berry to the math department's new location in Kemeny Hall, and the improved hours and accessibility that this would entail, are significant factors. RL pointed out that much of the journal literature in math is now digital, but print monographs continue to be very important in math. He pointed out that the new math library, planned to be housed in Kemeny, was initially intended to house both the math and the computer science collections; however, this has changed and computer science is now being integrated into Baker-Berry collections.

Rauner Library: This is a remarkable collection and facility for an institution of Dartmouth's size, especially with the renovation and retrofitting of Webster Hall. RL noted that given this branch library's overall strength, it does not need to be supported at the same pace as previously. In his view, Rauner should consider integrating purchasing and collection decisions into the Baker-Berry streams such that acquisition decisions are driven by faculty research and teaching needs, not the pursuit of rare materials for their own sake. He noted that Rauner rare book collection funds are supported to a certain degree by designated endowments, so the effect of budget cuts there, as in the case of Paddock, will not be as severe.

The Library's Relationship with the Professional Schools
RL next spoke about the Library's relationship with the professional schools, Tuck, Thayer, and Dartmouth Medical School (DMS). He pointed out that the existing agreements were put in place years ago, even before the previous College Librarian was appointed, and need to be examined and potentially restructured. As things now stand, Arts & Sciences provides central library services and support with no updated provision to recoup these costs from the professional schools (e.g., acquisition of core databases, services such as BorrowDirect). There is some cost-sharing but, in RL's view, the fiscal relationship needs to be revisited. As an interim measure, Feldberg has agreed to provide staff support for those initiatives and services that benefit it, such as the development of the Digital Library. Thayer School of Engineering has actually increased its financial support for the Library.

In terms of their contribution to the Library's budget, Tuck has had to cut $87,000 immediately from this fiscal year's budget. To offset this amount, Feldberg has cut one open position and will take the rest of the cut from collections. DMS has had to cut $50,000 from the library's budget, all in the collections area, meaning that there are now no funds to support growth in emerging or interdisciplinary life science areas. No additional cut from DMS' contribution is anticipated for next fiscal year; however, as part of reexamining the fiscal relationship between schools, RL is requesting Dana to provide staff support to the Library, as Feldberg has agreed to do, as an interim solution.

Current Periodicals Room
Finally, RL asked for input from the CoL about the Current Periodicals Room in Baker-Berry. He noted that, given the newly established Current News Room, he hopes to achieve savings from this area. The upcoming dedication of the room in early November means that a decision has to be reached very soon about its disposition. Several CoL members felt that the action already taken--announcing the closure of the current periodicals reading room as a temporary measure pending a future decision-- was the best course of action.

Havah Armstrong-Walther noted her concern that the loss of the Current Periodicals reading room would diminish the library's reading and browsing space. RL agreed that further discussion is needed on the final disposition of the room, but reminded the CoL that the upcoming Library dedication on Nov. 8 requires that an interim decision be made. Mary Munter suggested that Jerry Rutter issue a letter to faculty explaining the decision temporarily to close the periodicals room pending further discussion, a suggestion that was approved. This letter, and the library's statement about the budget situation and its principles, will be made available on the library's Web site.

Robert Ditchfield expressed concern about the transition of Feldberg to a primarily digital library, and the need for continued access to the print collections there; faculty in research areas such as materials science, for example, make use of those resources; and he is concerned about their continued availability. RL noted that the decision to move Feldberg to a primarily digital library was made by the deans of Tuck and Thayer, with agreement from RL.

Dave Becker commented that RL's approach to cost savings relies on centralization to improve efficiency, but noted that there is a risk of loss of control on the part of the libraries serving particular communities which goes hand-in-hand with centralization. He recommended that thought be given to ways in which departments that are particularly affected by changes in discipline-specific services such as those provided by branch libraries, for example) might participate more actively and regularly in the library's decision-making process with respect to those services. RL expressed support for an enhanced faculty governance model, but noted that sustained faculty input can be difficult to achieve.

RL stated that the cuts discussed thus far have been taken against collections and operations, but that some $400,000 in savings still needed to be achieved for FY04. A sustained budget cut of that magnitude to the collections, in addition to the cuts already taken, would effectively change the nature of the Library from a research-quality to a good undergraduate library, a step he is reluctant to take without a conscious decision on the part of the campus administration. In response to a question from MM, Provost Scherr noted that the faculty has a subcommittee on priorities which would be a good place to raise this issue. In the meantime, however, RL noted that the library's budget deadlines must still be met. Reducing the library's hours of operations is a possibility but would only save some $10,000, which was not considered to be worth the loss of access.

Submitted by: Jane Quigley