VCU Libraries Advisory Committee
Tompkins-McCaw Library, Main Conference Room
March 19, 2010 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Mary Baechle, Jan Chlebowski, Leila Christenbury, Corey Davis, Linda Hughes, Kimberle Jacobs, Ran Lee, Faye Prichard, Brenda Seago
Absent with notice
Rosemary Farmer, Worth Longest, Roy McKelvey, Karen Rader, Ann Wiesner
Gonzalo Aida, Brandon Dube, Allen Lee
Staff: John Duke, Jeanne Hammer, Teresa Knott, Pam Fraga (recording secretary)
Guest: Irene Lubker, Research Librarian, VCU Libraries
Mr. Ulmschneider announced that chair Dr. McKelvey would not be able to attend today’s meeting. Dr. Seago volunteered to chair the meeting in his stead. Dr. Seago then asked the meeting to come to order.
Review and approval of agenda
The agenda was approved as presented.
Review and approval of minutes from February 2010
The minutes were approved as presented.
Policy and monitoring of group study rooms in library facilities
Mr. Ulmschneider asked the Committee for its input on a problem arising from students competing for the use of group study rooms at James Branch Cabell Library (JBC). This doesn’t appear to be a problem at Tompkins-McCaw Library but has emerged as a challenge at JBC. On some Sundays in the fall and this spring, students have literally rushed the doors at JBC when they open at 1:00 pm, pushing and shoving to get through the doors first so that they can claim a group study room for their use. It is a potentially dangerous situation, although no one has been injured so far. In addition to the rush to claim rooms, students will hold rooms for hours, even days, denying their use to others. On one occasion a heated confrontation developed between groups vying for use of one of the rooms, and eventually involved staff and security guards. Groups and individuals have been confrontational and rude to staff in other incidents, and staff occasionally have been discomforted or felt threatened.
The VCU Libraries has decided to implement one experimental step immediately to address to the problem: JBC will begin opening at 11:00 am on Sundays. It is hoped that students will not feel as pressured to get rooms if there’s more time, and that some students may simply not come to the library at that hour on a Sunday. Additionally, despite the increased cost to open earlier, the overall cost will be less than hiring more security to monitor the situation on Sunday afternoon.
The VCU Libraries is investigating other steps to manage the group study rooms and ensure compliance with policy regarding behavior in library buildings. Staff are investigating reservation procedures for group study rooms, so that students can reserve a room but cannot hold onto the room indefinitely. Security patrol patterns have been changed: security staff now patrol the floors more often and specifically take note of study room activity. More study rooms will be constructed as part of the Learning Commons renovations on the 2nd floor of Cabell Library.
In an effort to work with the students, VCU Libraries staff have initiated discussions with the Cabell Library Undergraduate Advisory Committee (CLUAC) and the Student Government Association on the Monroe Park Campus. The Dean of Students, Reuban Rodriguez, will be notified when incidents occur. The topic will be discussed in the upcoming Cabell Life Forum in April. These efforts are intended to develop a partnership with students to address the problem: rather than treat it solely as a compliance and asset management issue, the VCU Libraries hopes also to engage these groups in ways to encourage more responsible behavior by students towards one another. Staff also are developing on a written policy to govern the use of group study rooms. There remains some concern that adding more student rooms in the Learning Commons may cause the problems to escalate.
In the discussion which followed, several points were made or expressed by the Committee members:
- There is no electronic way to reserve the rooms, which might eliminate the physical pushing and shoving to procure them.
- Henrico Library has group study rooms but they have a call-ahead system which allows for one two-hour rental with one renewal. The rooms are locked until the renter arrives and released only to that person.
- The confrontations with VCU students are not always with the same students so it’s not possible to identify “problem people” in these incidents and monitor or sanction them.
- Several Committee members felt that if students are difficult or inappropriate with staff, the students should lose their library privileges. Library staff noted that if a student refuses to give his/her name, current policy provides the option of asking that person to leave the building.
- There are very limited options for study space across campus, especially for safe space that is close to needed resources.
- Staff have to police the rooms, which is an uncomfortable proposition for them.
- Cooperation from the student body is needed in order to implement any effective plan of reservation/use of the rooms.
- University College has multiple group study rooms and they experience no problems; however, those rooms are used only by groups with a professor or TA in attendance.
Mr. Ulmschneider thanked the Committee for their feedback and suggestions. He underscored that it is the intention of the staff to work with the students to find solutions to this problem.
Reports and Discussion
Library space study findings, MCV campus - slides
Mr. Ulmschneider thanked the Committee for their time in meeting with the library space consulting team last fall. He reported that the senior library leadership recently met with the team in a five-hour session to synthesize the data gathered and help finalize the first part of the report. A second meeting will be scheduled in April to finalize the quantitative and benchmarking portion of the report. He displayed a slide of the timeline for the overall project to show the current status, and indicated that the final report for qualitative and quantitative findings will be finished in late May. Following that, the consulting team will report on how library space might best be designed for expected use.
In addition to the overall space analysis, two other themes are emerging from the report. First, the data underscores the need for an off-site storage facility for library materials to accommodate future collection growth. Second, the report identifies design and mechanical challenges with the aging TML facilities that threaten some collections and, in much of the building, provide poor support for the contemporary academic work needs of students and faculty on the MCV Campus. Overall, it is becoming clear that improving VCU’s library facilities will be a multi-faceted project that extends well beyond the proposed new library building on the Monroe Park Campus.
To provide context for thinking about changes at TML, Mr. Ulmschneider stepped through a few PowerPoint slides provided by Russ Uzzle (VCU Facilities Management) which describe the overall architectural vision for the MCV Campus and how TML fits into that vision. The slides gave an overview of the master plan for the MCV Campus and illustrated the envisioned relationships between current and proposed buildings and the overall campus layout. TML is not explicitly referenced in the slides and exists on the periphery of the campus in both vision and reality right now. Few Committee members had seen the plans, but several did say that they were not overly concerned, since plans often change or simply don’t materialize. Committee members also noted the logistical difficulties of carrying out some of the proposals illustrated in the slides.
Ms. Hammer then showed the Committee the samples of fabrics and colors that are to be used in the Learning Commons. This area is scheduled to be completed in time for fall semester.
Closure of Visual Resource Center ("slide library") - handout
Mr. Ulmschneider reviewed the handout, which was an email announcing the decision by VCUArts to close the Visual Resource Center (VRC). VCU Libraries and the School of the Arts are convening a joint task force to ensure an orderly shutdown of the VRC. The task force will make final decisions about who owns the materials in the VRC collection and where they should be transferred during the shutdown. Mr. Ulmschneider said that the space currently occupied by the VRC on the 3rd floor of Cabell Library will be repurposed in some way for student use.
Demo: Dentristy and Oral Science Source - online demonstration
Ms. Lubker, the VCU Libraries liaison to the School of Dentistry, gave a brief presentation on this new database. She showed how to find it through the main VCU Libraries web page and then demonstrated various search options and tools that this new database offers to users. The option to search by type of database, i.e. journals or publishers, was very interesting, plus the fact that the user can save searches and store retrieved materials. The scarcity of dental materials and information is a problem for all dental schools and this new resource will be very helpful. It is also easily adaptable to hand-held devices.
The meeting adjourned at 3:00 p.m.