VCU Arts Library Committee
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Cabell Room, James Branch Cabell Library
Josh Chenard, Susie Ganch, Sonali Gulati, Roy McKelvey (chair), Pam Taylor, Barbara Tisserat, Roberto Ventura, Stephen Vitiello
Staff: Yuki Hibben, Kristina Keogh, Jeanne Hammer, John Ulmschneider, Pam Fraga (recording secretary)
Mr. McKelvey welcomed the Committee members and extended a special welcome to newly appointed members.
Mr. McKelvey noted that in recent discussions, it’s become clear that the Committee has no founding documents that give its charge or describe its composition. He said that while he’s been pleased to have served as chair of the Committee for the past eight years, he does feel that it’s time for this to pass on to another Committee member. The Chair also serves on the VCU Libraries Advisory Committee (VLAC), so this is actually a double commitment. He asked that this subject be on the agenda for the next meeting in November.
Mr. Ulmschneider thanked Mr. McKelvey for his service and suggested that perhaps some oral history might reside with some of the longer standing members of the Committee, such as Dr. Brownell. He agreed that this subject should be on the November agenda and said he would include it.
Review and approval of agenda
The agenda was approved as presented.
Review and approval of minutes from April 2010
The minutes were approved as presented.
Group study rooms guidelines and management
Mr. Ulmschneider thanked the Committee for convening again. He pointed out that while the primary focus of this Committee is on issues related to the School of the Arts, the broader concerns of the University and VCU Libraries are also brought to this group. In that light, he wanted to report on what has been done to address the problem of the use of the group study rooms in Cabell Library and the management of these spaces.
He briefly explained that in past use of these rooms has sometimes presented challenges when students have conflicts over the rooms or when students “camp” in the rooms for days at a time. With the creation of the Learning Commons, a total of 28 group study rooms are now available in Cabell Library, and it was clear that a new policy of room use was necessary.
The VCU Libraries has implemented a new online reservation system that allows students to identify available rooms and reserve them up to 48 hrs in advance for a maximum of 3 times a week. It is hoped that the students won’t “game” the system though some of that type of behavior is expected. However, so far, the system seems to be working and no conflicts have arisen. The cost of keys or electronic keying was prohibitive so the rooms are open until reserved.
Mr. Ulmschneider wanted the Committee to be aware of this new use policy as it had been discussed as an issue last academic year. He asked for any feedback that the faculty may have or hear from students.
Hours for library facilities 2010-11 - handout
Mr. Ulmschneider noted that it is the practice of VCU Libraries to establish hours of operation before the academic year starts and to bring the proposed hours to the advisory committees for their approval/revisions and endorsement. He referred the Committee to the handouts which gave the proposed hours for both JBC and TML. He pointed out that the hours include 24/5 for both semesters, as well as an additional day of being open on the day before each semester begins. In discussing TML’s hours, he noted that this year TML will be closed during the winter closing of the University for almost 10 days. He said this was a change in response to 3 things:
- Pace of life at TML slows down significantly during this timeframe
- On-call librarian is available to respond to emergency needs from medical staff should they arise.
- In balancing out the hours at TML to be more consistent, TML is actually now open more hours during the academic year than ever before. Closing during the winter break is a more acceptable option now, since the building is open more than it used to be, including Saturdays.
Mr. Ulmschneider asked if the Committee would endorse these hours and the vote was unanimous.
Cabell elevator lobby refurbishment designs - PowerPoint display
Mr. Ulmschneider reported that VCU Facilities Management had some concern about the contrast between the newly refurbished elevators and the un-renovated outside wall areas on all 5 floors, and has suggested that their office might be able to support renovations to spruce up the area around the elevators. Mr. Ulmschneider and Ms. Hammer both said that two designs have been put forth as options and they wanted to gather feedback from the advisory groups, especially this Committee because its artistic composition. Ms. Hammer said that the flooring will be replaced with something a little fancier and will have the VCU logo imbedded in it, however the outside walls are still of concern. Mr. Ulmschneider then showed two images of the proposed design, both of which use word imagery as the basic theme but offer different color and tonal variations. While the 2nd option was viewed as “better”, the Committee was very clear that they didn’t really care for either option. Some of the direct quotes are:
- Seems condescending
- Lots of eyes will roll
- Words might invite a written response
- Should be going for “subtle” and “elegant”, not “jazzy”
- Should go for something the students would love and be proud of
- Designers should pay attention to “what we are.”
It was suggested that perhaps the designers could take a cue from the Seattle Public Library as to how to address this wall area. The concern is that the library is often the face of the University to many people and it’s very important that this “face” be the image the University wants people to take away with them.
There was a great deal of discussion about having this space, at least on the first floor, be a place to somehow house electronic display equipment. The faculty and students in the School of the Arts can and do put together DVD’s of their work and this would be an excellent place and way to display this art work. Mr. Ulmschneider pointed out that since the funding is coming from an outside source, there is little control over requesting or suggesting more expensive options. However, he appreciated the feedback and would carry those thoughts forward to the designers and VCU Facilities Management.
Reports and Discussion
VCU2020 recalibration - handout
Mr. Ulmschneider referred to the handout and noted that VCU has been in the process of recalibrating the VCU2020 Plan since spring 2010. The handout is a printout of the webpage that shows has the current status of the recalibration effort, including the new goals and the metrics that will be presented to the Board of Visitors. In discussion, it was noted that the new plan isn’t necessarily constrained by the current budgetary problems, and assumes that the necessary steps will be taken to accomplish the goals set forth. It does emphasize student engagement, but also establishes as a core goal the movement of VCU forward as a major research university in Virginia. President Rao always refers to VCU in the same light as Virginia Tech and UVA, saying that there are 3 major research universities in this state and that VCU is one of them.
In discussing the role of the VCU Libraries in the plan, Mr. Ulmschneider noted that VCU’s libraries do not meet the membership benchmarks of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). Most universities with research volume and student enrollment comparable to VCU have much larger library systems that meet those benchmarks. He reported that he continues his efforts to include ARL-qualifying benchmarks as part of the recalibrated plan, since it is his belief that VCU will have a difficult time achieving its goals without a library system able to support and advance them.
It is unclear exactly when the recalibration will be completed but the intention is to have it adopted by the BOV in May 2011.
In discussion, it was pointed out that by President Rao’s calculations, the University is 560 faculty positions short. The intended hiring of 94 faculty this year is a small start toward fulfilling this discrepancy. It was also noted that these 94 will be hired with an emphasis on research capacity along with teaching and distinction in the discipline.
The Committee members were encouraged to review this plan and to make any comments they felt appropriate to the Provost’s office.
Interim Head, Special Collections
Mr. Ulmschneider reported that the recent search for a new Head of Special Collections and Archives was not successful. Therefore, Ms. Yuki Hibben has been appointed the Interim Head and will serve in this capacity for the next year. He said that another search will be launched after the first of the year. To assist with her additional responsibilities, Kristina Keogh is taking over some of Ms. Hibben’s job tasks and that there has been the creation of a one year position as additional assist. The faculty may continue to contact either Ms. Hibben or Ms. Keogh for their purchase and research issues.
Director, VCU Arts Qatar Library
Mr. Ulmschneider reported that the Director of the Arts Qatar Library has retired. A search committee, including Mr. Ulmschneider, has been convened and the process to find the successor is under way.
Status of Visual Resource Center collection - handout
Mr. Ulmschneider reminded the Committee that late last academic year, the School of the Arts closed the VRC, saying that VRC was no longer needed for the School’s programs due to the evolution of digital technologies. A committee composed of people from VCU Libraries and the School of the Arts, chaired by Ms. Hibben, was convened and has been working to determine what to do with the slides and other materials in the VRC collection. The handout is the full written report submitted by this committee and offers 2 core recommendations:
- That the collection come under the auspices of VCU Libraries
- That the entire collection be reviewed carefully to determine what should be done with the various slides and collections therein.
Ms. Hibben said the focus of the review of the materials is the intrinsic and intellectual value of the slides themselves. Based on that assessment, a decision must be made regarding what unit should retain them or, if they have no intrinsic value, what should be done with them. Since there are over 600,000 slides, this process will take a long time.
Mr. Ulmschneider asked the Committee to stand ready to respond to inquiries from this reviewing body, since they will need guidance on various slides and their contents as they proceed with this massive task. Not only is it necessary to keep in mind who owns the slides and who wants the slides, there is also the matter of licensure in some cases, making a difficult task all the more complicated.
Ms. Keogh and Ms. Hibben both assured the Committee that the slides are still available for use despite this reviewing process. Faculty are asked to make an appointment to review the collection and request materials.
In closing discussion, several issues were raised.
Dr. Gulati asked if there had been any progress on revising the policy which does not allow students to take VHS tapes out of the library for use and review. She has raised this issue in April and asked that it not be forgotten. Mr. Ulmschneider said he would look into this and that it would be discussed in November.
Ms. Hibben reminded the Committee that it was time to purchase new journals and invited the members to let her know titles they would like to see added, as well as any other types of formatted materials they might need.
Dr. Ventura asked if the orientation boards posted in the library building were going to be updated to reflect the new configurations on the floors and was assured that this was in the works.
Demo: Tour of the new Cabell Learning Commons
The meeting adjourned to be taken on a tour of the new Learning Commons on the 2nd floor of Cabell Library.
The tour began at 6:10 pm.