VCU Libraries Advisory Committee
4th Floor Conference Room, Cabell Library
September 16, 2011 2:00 to 3:00 pm
Charlotte Arbogast, Meredith Byrk, Alison Baski (for Bonnie Davis), Jose Dula, Linda Hughes, Tehra James, Kathy Kreutzer, Roy McKelvey (chair), Whitney Newcomb, Peter Nguyen, Lisa Phipps, Faye Prichard, Jeanne Schlesinger, Amy Throckmorton, Kathryn Witt
Absent with notice
Staff: Dennis Clark, John Duke, Jeanne Hammer, John Ulmschneider, Pam Fraga (recording secretary)
Mr. McKelvey called the meeting to order at 2:10 pm. He reminded the Committee that he had been the chair for the past two years (and has served on the Committee for over 10 years) and that it is now time to elect a new chair for the next two years. He briefly explained the duties of the chair and spoke highly about the support he had received in this capacity from the VCU Libraries staff. Mr. Ulmschneider thanked him and spoke briefly about the important role of VLAC as a University-wide advisory body for the VCU Libraries, the changes in library policy and practice that have come about because of VLAC’s involvement, and the Committee’s role, on behalf of students and faculty, in articulating the need for a supportive library system at VCU.
Mr. McKelvey said it would probably be best if someone with some experience on the Committee were to serve as the chair, noting that there are many new faces this year.
Ms. Faye Prichard volunteered to serve as chair and will assume chair duties at the end of the meeting.
Mr. McKelvey led the Committees members in introducing one another.
Review and approval of agenda
The agenda was approved as presented.
Review and approval of minutes from April 2011
The minutes were approved as presented.
Election of Chair for 2011-13
Recognition of previous members of VLAC
Mr. Ulmschneider welcomed Committee members to the meeting. He thanked Mr. McKelvey for his years of service and specifically for his service as chair. He also thanked Ms. Prichard for volunteering to be the next chair. He informed the Committee that in recognition of her 10 years of service, Dr. Rosemary Farmer, who rotated off the Committee this year, will be receiving a plaque noting her service and two bookplates will be placed in volumes specifically selected to represent her fields of study. He also noted that it is good to have both new people and some people with experience on the Committee and that he looks forward to an exciting year with the Committee.
Smoking near Cabell Library
Mr. Ulmschneider noted that he has been reluctant to institute a “no smoking” policy around Cabell Library and that he would like feedback from the Committee on the matter. He said there isn’t a smoking problem for Tompkins-McCaw Library on the MCV campus because the entire campus is a non-smoking zone. However, at Cabell Library on the Monroe Park Campus, there have been many complaints about smoking around the entrance to the library. Recent reports have come from persons who have mobility impairments and use the ramps into the building. It is not uncommon that in order to get to the entrance doors, they must go through a veritable “wall of smokers,” and that can prove a serious challenge to disabled people and to anyone with any kind of compromise in respiratory function. Mr. Ulmschneider said that while he was sensitive to the need for smokers (including those on staff) to have a place near the entrance to smoke, the latest complaints make it important that the VCU Libraries take some kind of action to protect the health of staff and users who have conditions that make them particularly vulnerability to tobacco smoke.
In discussion, the idea of a no-smoking area (identified to be within 50 feet of the building) was strongly supported. The idea of VCU providing benches for smokers was greeted positively. Mr. Ulmschneider said that VCU Human Resources had been consulted regarding the ability of the VCU Libraries to establish a no-smoking area, and they reported that HR policy at the State level supports establishing a no-smoking zone within a 25-foot minimum of a building entrance. Mr. Ulmschneider acknowledged that a no-smoking zone will be difficult to enforce, but he hoped that at least the concept will be favorably received and that there will be voluntary compliance. It was agreed that it would be much easier if the whole campus was non-smoking, but this is almost impossible to do because a comprehensive “footprint” for the campus has not been established.
A motion was made, seconded and passed unanimously that VLAC supports the idea of creating a 50 foot no-smoking area around Cabell Library.
Reports and Discussion
Quest for Distinction and 6-year budget plan for VCU and VCU Libraries
Mr. Ulmschneider reminded the Committee that he had talked last year with them about the process of “recalibrating” the VCU strategic plan. That process concluded in May with the adoption by the Board of Visitors of a new VCU strategic plan, Quest for Distinction. The plan is available at http://future.vcu.edu, and Mr. Ulmschneider encouraged Committee members to read the full report if they haven’t done so already. For today’s purposes, he pointed to a summary of metrics that identifies a high-profile goal for the VCU Libraries as part of the plan: Association of Research Libraries (ARL) ranking. He reported that in the 2010-11 revision of the Carnegie Classification, VCU was re-designated as “Research Institution (Very High Research)”; it joins Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia as the only institutions with this distinction in the Commonwealth. Most Very High Research institutions have library systems large enough to qualify for ARL designation. With the adoption of Quest, VCU has committed to achieving this status as well. He noted that the new 6-Year Budget Plan, which begins implementation of Quest, includes sufficient new funding for the VCU Libraries to significantly advance VCU towards the ARL goal. Funds received through the 6-Year Budget Plan as part of Quest will go directly towards student support, such as longer building hours, and stronger library collections.
In discussion, it was noted that Quest-related funding will be in addition to funding for a new library building on the Monroe Park Campus. A reasonable goal that is consistent with practice at peer institutions is for library funding at a level of about 3% of the overall Educational and General (E&G) budget for VCU.
With regard to the new building, Mr. Ulmschneider reminded the Committee that VCU has the least amount of library space per student of any public university in the State. He added that VCU is committed to adding new space to Cabell, and also that it is important to ensure that VCU also renovate Tompkins-McCaw Library, which has a great deal of space dating to the 1930s that is virtually unusable for contemporary student study and work. Funding for renovations at TML has not yet been identified.
Mr. Ulmschneider cited a telling statistic that documents the heavy use of Cabell Library: it appears that the Starbucks in Cabell ranks among the top 10 of all Starbucks nationwide in terms of sales volume.
LibQUAL+ spring 2011 survey: results - handout
Mr. Ulmschneider reminded the Committee that the LibQUAL+ survey is conducted every 2-3 years. The survey tool was developed by Texas A & M University and is used by most libraries across the country to assess the quality of their buildings, their services, and their collections. He referred to the handouts, which show a marked increase in “customer satisfaction” with faculty and students. Dr. Hughes thanked VCU Libraries and Mr. Ulmschneider, saying that it was always obvious to her that the interests and needs of the students were always paramount.
In discussion, several Committee members thanked VCU Libraries for the new doors in Cabell. Ms. Hammer explained that the doors were installed this summer due to the leadership of Associate Vice-President for Facilities Brian Ohlinger, who arranged funding and wanted the work done before students arrived for the fall semester.
VCU Libraries programs - promotional handouts/postcards for each (Mr. Ulmschneider briefly reviewed each postcard and its project/event.)
- Watercolors by Victory Yanchick: August 15 – November 23, 2011. Exhibit at Tompkins-McCaw Library of watercolor paintings by Dean Victory Yanchick of the School of Pharmacy.
- 9/11 Commemoration: Opening reception September 9, 2011. Exhibits of limited-edition prints, sound recordings from the World Trade Center, materials documenting local reactions and a wall of memories, September 9 – September 23, 2011.
- Constitution Day recognition: video screening, live broadcast from the National Constitution Center, and a Constitution Day montage, along with distribution of free copies of a pocket-sized copy of the Constitution in English and Spanish. Sept 12 – Sept. 18, 2011.
Demo and discussion: Primo, a new way to search VCU's library collections - online demonstration
Mr. Clark began his presentation by explaining that librarians have long desired a “single source” search engine, a way to search all existing databases, catalogs and online resources in one search, much like Google searches the Web. Primo is one more step closer to that goal. Librarians call software like Primo a “discovery tool, not a searching tool,” because it searches so much material. It also speeds up the search process by consolidating all indexes into one single index. He demonstrated how to do a search (very Google-like) and showed that a single search runs simultaneously against many of the digital collections available at VCU. The result list shows the journals, books, and other materials (videos, audios, etc.) identified by the search, and the data repository or database that holds the material. Users can then click on the desired item and, in most cases, can display the complete text of the item on the screen within seconds. Mr. Clark did several searches to demonstrate the speed and breadth of responses possible. He pointed out that this tool is helpful for faculty and students alike. It is hoped that this will be available on a limited basis by October and will be fully implemented by the end of the semester.
Mr. Ulmschneider thanked Mr. Duke and his staff for negotiating contracts and acquiring and configuring the Primo software in record time this past spring and summer.
In discussion, it was pointed out that wherever possible, books are acquired in digital format, and will be searched and made available by Primo just like other digital resources. However, not all books are available in digital format, and it’s not possible to digitize print books to simplify access to them by using Primo. The biggest challenge comes from standard research and reference texts, which largely remain available only in traditional formats.
Ms. Prichard thanked the VCU Libraries and Laura Gariepy in particular for making the College aware of Primo and instituting instructional sessions on this new database.
The meeting adjourned at 3:10 pm.