VCU Libraries Advisory Committee
James Branch Cabell Library, 4th Floor Conference Room
April 16, 2010 2:00 to 3:00 pm
Jan Chlebowski, Leila Christenbury, Corey Davis, Linda Hughes, Kimberle Jacobs, Allen Lee, Roy McKelvey (chair), Faye Prichard, Karen Rader, Brenda Seago, Ann Wiesner
Staff: John Duke, Jeanne Hammer, Dan Ream, Pam Fraga (recording secretary)
Guest: Bettina Peacemaker, Assistant Head for Research Services, VCU Libraries
Absent with notice
Rosemary Farmer, Ran Lee
Gonzalo Aida, Mary Baechle, Brandon Dube, Worth Longest, Gabriel Walker
Review and approval of agenda
The agenda was approved as presented.
Review and approval of minutes from March 2010
The minutes were approved as presented.
Student Technology Fee 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.
Ms. Hammer reviewed the handout, which outlined the proposed expenditures, totaling 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 The primary investment will be updating and replacing outdated and broken equipment.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 are. There also are some purchases for the Hunton Learning Center. 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.
There were several points made during the discussion:
- Laptops purchased last year for loaner use by students have been immensely popular. The VCU Libraries will be adding about 20 more to the inventory. This is a joint venture with Technology Services. 8 of the new machines will be netbooks; some of the new purchases are for TML as well as JBC.
- Significant concern was raised about the cost of the book readers. It was explained that VCU Libraries actually has relatively few of these as the staff and resources to offer them are limited. However, it is felt that there is some economy to be gained by using this type of technology.
- As the use of hand-held devices becomes more commonplace, there will be an increasing need for screens in the study spaces so students can share information on these devices.
- Committee members raised strong concerns that students were not being required to have portable computers of their own, either laptops or hand-helds. The Committee discussed whether the VCU Libraries can or should do anything to encourage/promote this requirement. It was explained that while VCU Libraries cannot make any such requirement, there are several things being done and already in place which relate to this issue:
- VCU Libraries is phasing out the purchase of desk-top computers.
- VCU Libraries is buying more equipment compatible with hand-held and portable devices.
- VCU Libraries and the University are working hard to adopt new technology that supports the use of Blackboard.
- VCU Libraries will partner more aggressively with VCU Technology Services to improve support for hand-helds.
- It is believed that this type of equipment is the wave of the future and primary use of it will become the norm anyway.
It was felt that it was best in these economic times to not require any expensive and/or new equipment of students. However, it was also the sense of the room that VCU Libraries should inform the rest of the University that it will be phasing out the purchase of desktop computers, since the University has, in the past, relied on the libraries to supply this resource for the student body, but has provided only limited financial support for staffing and other support requirements.
Committee members raised several other points. Staff explained that the new self-service scanner is free because there are no consumables required for its use. E-book readers are still under research for their efficacy and they are not really “library friendly” in that they are aimed at personal use. Also, staff noted that the VCU Libraries’ portion of the overall STF for the University is 15%.
Mr. McKelvey then asked the Committee for its support for this proposal and the vote was unanimous and “hearty.”
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. The Committee felt very strongly that 6 months was much too generous for the time limit, and felt it allowed students to abuse this system very effectively. Members recommended a more stringent approach, and noted that “losing” a book and then “finding” it was a violation of the Honor Code. The grace period should be less than a semester in length if the VCU Libraries intend to curb this behavior.
In discussing their frustration with students who refuse to buy text books, several Committee members asked whether the VCU Libraries provided copies of text books. Staff explained that academic libraries generally do not purchase text books for the collections, and the VCU Libraries follows this general practice. However, if a professor intends to use a book in the library collection as a required text for a course, the professor can place that book on reserve for the semester so students can find it in the library. Reserve items have short loan periods and cannot be taken from library buildings.
Mr. Ulmschneider asked the Committee members to please discuss this issue with their colleagues and get back to him with any other feedback. He thanked them for their candor on the issue and said he would get back to the task force and would send the relevant changes to the full Committee via email.
Reports and Discussion
Update on Learning Commons and relocation of materials to 500 Academic Centre
Ms. Hammer reported that the move into 500 Academic Centre is complete. If VCU Libraries owned 50 more shelving units, there is room for them and books to fill them but unfortunately, there are no more units available at this time. She said that over 624 book carts had moved over 200,000 books and journals into the new space. The company doing the work did a very good job and the staff was more than satisfied with their efforts.
Work on the Learning Commons will commence as soon as the semester ends and the intention is to have it up and fully functional by the fall semester.
Change in photocopy service fees
Ms Hammer reported that all the photocopiers in JBC have been replaced with machines that have a much less expensive lease. Consequently, the copy is being reduced to 8 cents for single sided and 12 cents for double-sided copies. The new fee structure brings photocopy costs to the same per-page charge as the pay-for-print service managed by VCU Technology Services. Ms. Hammer noted that the new digital sender devices have reduced the number of physical copies that are made, and also reduced the use of paper. She also said that the staff are investigating the possibility of creating a public fax service. Staff at service desks report that students frequently need a fax machine, but currently there are no student-accessible faxes on campus.
Demo: EBSCO Discovery Service - online demonstration
Ms. Peacemaker demonstrated the versatile database/full-text journal service offered by EBSCO. She showed how to access EBSCO products through the “Tools and Gadgets” link on the main web page and pointed out that it’s possible to find it in a variety of ways. She noted that EBSCO is actually a composite of 46 databases, and that it has a new mobile-aware interface that makes it easy to search from a handheld device. She then demonstrated how to do an actual search, using a variety of searching options. She showed how to refine the search and then how to save and manage the information found. When searching, the systems refines to a limited number of the total databases included in the overall EBSCO collection. However, it is possible to go to the catalog A to Z list to find specific databases that the user may wish to search. She then offered to help any on the Committee who would like to avail themselves of her services; either she will come to them or they can come to her.
Mr. Ulmschneider thanked the Committee for its effort and support and guidance for the past academic year. He said that their feedback and enthusiasm have been invaluable to the ongoing work of VCU Libraries.
The meeting adjourned at 3:10 pm.