VCU Arts Library Committee
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
4th Floor Conference Room, James Branch Cabell Library
Charles Brownell, Susie Ganch, Sonali Gulati, Khaled Hamid, Sterling Hundley, Roy McKelvey (chair), Janet Rodgers, Barbara Tisserat, Roberto Ventura
Staff: Yuki Hibben, Kristina Keogh, John Ulmschneider, Pam Fraga (recording secretary)
Guest: Michael Wirtz, VCU Libraries/Qatar
Review and approval of agenda
The agenda was approved as presented.
Review and approval of minutes from January 2010
The minutes were approved as presented.
Mr. McKelvey referred to the handouts and asked for a quick review of the proposed meeting dates. Later in the meeting, Dr. Rodgers raised concerns about the dates for September and January, indicating possible University-wide calendar conflicts. Mr. Ulmschneider said he would look into this and a revised set of dates would be sent to the full committee via email.
Student Technology Fee proposal for academic year 2010-11 - handout
Mr. Ulmschneider reminded the Committee that each year the VCU Libraries brings the proposed distribution of Student Tech Fees to the student body and the faculty by way of the advisory committees for their information and approval.
Because the source for these funds is student fees, purchases must directly support students and cannot include staffing, collections, or related items. Proposed expenditures total a little over $166,000 for next academic year. The primary investment will be updating and replacing outdated and broken equipment. In addition, the new Learning Commons will require some new equipment and furniture. Media Reserve Services also will replace some obsolete equipment, and a new, larger scanner will be installed in the Learning Commons area. There also are some purchases for the Hunton Learning Center on the MCV Campus. In the past, prices indicated on the proposal have been higher than what was finally paid, and it is expected that this will be the case this year, as well.
In discussion, Mr. Ulmschneider said that VCU Libraries receives 15% of the STF collected by VCU. The proposal in the handout is based on last year’s purchases plus 20%, to take advantage of likely cost savings. The subject of large format printing was of concern to several members of the Committee. There is a large format printer at TML but it is not network-active so students have to travel to TML to use it. Mr. Ulmschneider said he would prepare a summary of the large format printers at VCU Libraries and also try to locate other printers on either campus; this will be sent in the form of a report to the full Committee via email.
It was not definite as to how many e-book readers would be purchased or exactly what types would be included. However, it is probable that there will be a variety of formats to give students several options for use.
The Committee voted unanimously to accept the STF proposal as presented.
Change in fees for lost library materials - handout
Ms. Hammer explained to the Committee that the fee schedule for lost items had not been updated in over 10 years. A task force had been convened to look into this and their recommendations were itemized on the handout. She explained that students sometimes simply keep a book for a whole semester, especially one being used as a text for a course; it can be less expensive to pay the late fee and then request a refund when the student “finds” the book at the end of the semester than to purchase the book outright. The task force recommends a time limit for a “found book” refund of 6 months, and recommends adding a non-refundable processing fee to the fine structure. (An item is late after 42 days from the due date.) Currently the maximum fine is $10 and the lost book fee is $70; $60 is the book cost and $10 is the processing fee. This fee structure will be replaced with an $80 for JBC materials and $150 for TML, to reflect the average cost of items at each facility.
Ms. Hammer, Mr. Ulmschneider and Mr. McKelvey all reported that when this report was given to VLAC last week, strong objection was raised to the 6 months allowance. It was felt that this gave the students the time they needed to do exactly what was not wanted: to keep the item for the semester. VLAC strongly endorsed a 3 month allowance. The Arts Library Committee heartily agreed with this change.
The Committee expressed some concern that the fee for JBC materials was woefully low compared to the cost of some art books, which can be over $300. Ms. Hammer said that the policy allows the VCU Libraries to charge replacement value for some items as necessary.
Mr. Ulmschneider said that he appreciated the feedback from this Committee and that there will be a final announcement of the policy shortly. He said that it was important to fully vet any policy that would result in students having to pay fees and he wanted the advisory committees to be completely aware of the policy.
Reports and Discussion
Status: orderly shutdown of Visual Resource Center; decisions about VRC collections
Mr. Ulmschneider reminded the Committee that the School of the Arts had decided it no longer wanted or needed the Visual Resource Center or the materials held therein. A task force of persons from both the School of the Arts and VCU Libraries had been convened to determine the best course for closing the center and what should become of the collection of over 600,000 slides. Ms. Hibben then told the Committee that she chairs this task force and they have met twice and have come to some concerning conclusions. (There was concern expressed that not all who had expressed an interest in serving on this task force had been included. Ms. Hibben said she would repeat her efforts to contact these people and include them in the next meeting.)
Ms. Hibben said that the response from many departments had been passionate and sincere, though their preferences and requests often overlapped: one department wanted all 3 – D items, one wanted all 2 – D items and one would want all items on a certain theme or area of interest. She said the interest was much larger and more invested than had been anticipated and that apparently several professors had planned to use the slides in their ongoing class presentations. Most departments seemed to just want “the library to take it”, seeming to prefer that it be housed centrally and handled by VCU Libraries.
The task force had looked at similar universities to see what they had done with their slide libraries. Most had morphed their collections into other formats i.e. digitized, or had gone to other types of collections, such as ArtSTOR.
The Committee agreed with Ms. Hibben that there was likely some very significant intrinsic value to some of the collection that should not be lost. Several points were raised:
- Concern that comparisons are made not just with universities but with art schools per se: such a collection may have a difference relevance to an art school as opposed to a university. Ms. Hibben said they were doing just that.
- The collection may be minimally used because of the format (slides), not because of the content; very strong concern about the unknown value of the collection because of its unsearchable nature.
- There is no financial support for the collection going forward. The School of the Arts is clear that they are done with it and VCU Libraries never had funding for any staff or any conversion or cataloging effort.
- It is not obvious that if VCU Libraries or any other entity went to the effort to digitize pertinent parts of the collection (and deciding which parts those are is a whole other problem), would there be enough use to justify the investment.
- It is not necessary to digitize all 600,000 slides, but it will be extremely time consuming to go through the collection and determine what to keep and what to eliminate.
- Perhaps the departments who claim to want parts of the collection could take responsibility for storing and maintaining them; this leads to the very confusing issue of “where did the collection go.”
- Majority of the collection is “copy stand” quality and therefore there are copyright concerns to be addressed in dispersing those slides.
- Many of the slides are available on ArtSTOR but not all – some are unique and may have intrinsic value as such.
- The collection needs to be cataloged properly to be searchable by means other than browsing; this would need to be done by professionals (librarians) to be of any consistent use.
- The intellectual property value of this collection is of great concern and because it’s not cataloged, most professors and users don’t know what’s in it.
Mr. Ulmschneider said that his chief concern with the position taken by the School of the Arts is that there is a June 30th deadline and no real plan for how to disperse the collection. He felt, and the Committee agreed, that more time is necessary to determine what to do and how to proceed. Also, whatever the task force comes up with, VCU Libraries will have to pay for further action with the collection, and that is a real concern given the current budget situation.
In discussion, it was agreed that there are several major concerns, not the least of which is that the details of the collection are unknown and it is very difficult to determine which slides should be retained, where they should reside, and how to distribute them. The task force has been challenged to come up with recommendations but it is very clear that the property (collection) does not belong to VCU Libraries’ but is, in fact, that of the School of the Arts.
It was determined that a very short survey, online, be sent to the entire faculty asking about their interest and preferences for the future of this collection. Also, the current director has some records of use. These two input tracks could give some better direction as to how to proceed. Also, the task force will have to look into the costs of going to a third party to digitize images and the probable costs of then cataloging them.
Mr. Ulmschneider summed up the dialogue and his suggestions became a motion, which was passed unanimously:
“The VCU Arts Library Committee urges the School of the Arts to extend the timeframe for the closing of the VRC and the Committee has no strong objection to retaining the VRC collection.”
Change to fees for photocopy services
Mr. Ulmschneider reported quickly that the copy fees are being reduced from 10 cents per sheet to 8 cents per sheet because of newly purchased equipment which is more cost effective to operate.
Dr. Gulati raised concerns about the use of VHS tapes. Apparently DVD’s can be taken home for use by the students but VHS tapes must be used in the buildings. This is not conducive to study and detailed use and she was concerned about the discrepancy. Mr. Ulmschneider said he would look into this and will report back to the full Committee via email.
Mr. Ulmschneider then thanked the Committee for their service for this academic year. He said their guidance and suggestions have, as always, been invaluable.
The meeting adjourned at 6:10 pm.