VCU Libraries Advisory Committee
James Branch Cabell Library, 4th Floor Conference Room
September 17, 2010 2:00pm to 3:00 pm
Angelica Bega-Hart, Rosemary Farmer, Linda Hughes, Cindy Jong, Matthew Kelberg, Nathaniel Markson, Roy McKelvey (chair), Jana McQuaid, Faye Prichard, Raj Rao, Brenda Seago, Patricia Strong, Ann Wiesner
Absent with notice
Mary Baechle, Jan Chlebowski, Corey Davis, Karen Rader
Staff: John Duke, Teresa Knott, Dan Ream, John Ulmschneider, Pam Fraga (recording secretary)
Mr. McKelvey welcomed the Committee back from the summer break and asked that each introduce him or herself. He added that he had been agreed to serve a second term as chair, per the discussion by the Committee last year on this issue. A two-year term provides helpful continuity for the overall functioning of the Committee. He said that he would be glad to serve as chair again barring any objections from the Committee. There were none and so Mr. McKelvey will serve as chair for this academic year.
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.
Mr. Ulmschneider informed the Committee that Dr. Leila Christenbury has rotated off the Committee. Dr. Christenbury served with great effectiveness on VLAC for several years, including a stint as chair. In recognition of her distinguished service on the Committee, Mr. Ulmschneider has taken her out to dinner and presented her with a plaque, the text of which he shared with the Committee. Additionally, two books have been selected and have been noted with bookplates honoring Dr. Christenbury; these volumes were selected specifically referencing her passion of teaching English Literature.
Mr. Ulmschneider reminded the Committee 3 other long-term members of the Committee were similarly honored when they left: Dr. John Mahoney, Dr. Wes Poynor and Dr. Judy Lewis.
Dr. Jong thanked the Committee on behalf of Dr. Christenbury and the School of Education, and said that she hoped to serve as well in her place.
Group study rooms guidelines and management - online demo
Mr. Ulmschneider reminded the Committee of the reports last year about conflicts over use of the group study rooms in Cabell Library. These conflicts had at times become contentious and required intervention by staff or the security guards. In addition, some students were “camping” in the rooms, claiming the rooms for days at a time, sometimes even bringing in small appliances. With the creation of the additional group study rooms on the 2nd floor in the Learning Commons area (bringing the total rooms to 29), a stronger use policy was needed.
Mr. Duke explained that, using software developed at Ball State University, VCU Libraries has implemented an online reservation system that is almost completely self-service. He showed how to access the reservation page on the main VCU Libraries web page and how to track which rooms are available and how to make a reservation. He reported that the system seems to be working well; over 500 reservations have been processed so far. Mr. Duke said it was desirable to have some form of key access but the cost was prohibitive. He pointed out that even with the addition of these new rooms, there’s still far too little study space and the building continues to be very crowded at all times of the day and evening.
In discussion, it was pointed out that while there might be other rooms made available for study use, especially during the period before exams, students vastly prefer library space. It is simply more conducive to study and research.
Hours for library facilities 2010-11 - handout
Mr. Ulmschneider told the Committee that each year, the VCU Libraries drafts suggested hours for library facilities and reviews that proposal with the library advisory committees. Ms. Knott reviewed the handouts with the Committee. She highlighted the primary change at TML, which is that the building will be closed during the winter break. She explained that this seems appropriate given the extreme dropoff in use during the winter break. She noted that the closing was balanced by the additional hours of operation that had been added to the schedule, including Saturday hours. She reported that Cabell will be open for 24/5 service at the end of both semesters.
In discussion, it was explained that ILL is not available during the winter break primarily because libraries from which materials are requested generally are not in operation. However, ILL Rapid will still expedite items without intervention from VCU, so if a supplying library is open, Rapid requests should still work during winter break.
Cabell elevator lobby refurbishment designs
Mr. Ulmschneider said that the designers were on-site and meeting in the building with the Cabell Library Undergraduate Advisory Committee (CLUAC). He asked if this item could be tabled for later, when the designers could join the meeting. This was approved by voice acclimation of the Committee.
Reports and Discussion
VCU2020 recalibration - handout
Mr. Ulmschneider reminded members about the VCU2020 recalibration initiative. He referred to the handout, which was a printout of the VCU web page for the initiative. He pointed out that the plan now has four major themes, instead of five, and that two of the most prominent themes are attaining pre-eminence as a public research university, and achieving recognition as a university focused on health care in all its manifestations. He said that President Rao often refers to VCU as the 3rd major research university in Virginia, along with Virginia Tech and UVA, and that Virginia is rare among large states (it ranks 12th in population) in not having at least 3 major research universities.
Mr. Ulmschneider said that there will be several open forums to give faculty and students an opportunity to give feedback on the proposed changes to VCU2020. He encouraged VLAC members to attend the forums. The reformulated plan will be presented to the Board of Visitors in final form in May 2011.
Cabell elevator lobby refurbishment designs - handouts from designers
Ms. Hammer told the Committee that when Brian Ohlinger (VCU Facilities Management) toured the new Cabell Learning Commons, he was disappointed by the appearance of the elevator walls and lobby area. He noted that while the interiors of the elevators had been refurbished, the outside areas looked pretty drab. He wanted to see them revived and may be able to find funding for the effort. Ms. Hammer then introduced 2 designers who have developed designs for the wall areas and doors of the elevators on all 5 floors of the building. The designers pointed out that the designs use typography as a key component. They asked for feedback from the Committee members, saying that they had very helpful comments from CLUAC and from the VCUArts Library Committee.
The designers pointed out several features including:
- The intention to soften the use of typography (this was encouraged by the students)
- The application would be either using paint or digitally produced wallpaper
- Leaning toward more subtle versions of the designs under consideration
The Committee’s discussion highlighted several considerations:
- Strong preference that the words be quotes, be meaningful and perhaps be in multiple languages to reflect the diversity of the campus
- Strong preference for lower contrast between colors and background; this would help the walls not be so “noisy”.
- Concern that this be a sophisticated design as befits a university
- Concern that heavy graphic would detract from art work being displayed, especially on the 1st floor.
The designers shared ideas from CLUAC:
- Each floor have a separate color identifying that floor
- Strong preference for a minimalist approach
- Strong preference for literary quotes, also in multiple languages
- Suggested themes for quotes that reflect both the university diversity and the local culture of Richmond
- Suggested the use of photography in black and white, possibly by students with maybe each floor having its own identifying theme
- Strong concern that the numbers on the doors looked like a parking garage and that any numbering be minimal
- Liked the band identifier as to which floor was which
- Losing the numbers all together was well received
Mr. Ulmschneider thanked the designers and the Committee.
Access and borrowing privileges for area high schools - handout
Mr. Ulmschneider told the Committee that VCU Libraries was expanding access to all area high school students and faculty. Mr. Ream explained that previously there had been 4 high schools and 9 IB programs with access and it was decided that this should be expanded. A system has been put in place whereby control of access is given the high school librarian. Anyone seeking access must contact their school librarian, who then contacts VCU to set up access for that person. This automatically directs users to the school library first, which provides the librarian a chance to consult with the student or teacher and possible meet their needs with local school resources. There is no way to know if the new policy will generate an increase in use of the VCU Libraries from schools, but staff are confident that any increase will not affect service or access for VCU students. Additionally, if a VCU student or faculty member needs a specific book that is checked out, it can be put on hold and retrieved to VCU for that person.
Mr. Ulmschneider pointed out that high school students cannot have access to VCU’s online journals and data sources because of VCU’s licensing agreements. For this use, students are redirected to FindItVa or other sources available through their school or public library.
In general discussion, it was reported that CLUAC’s response to the new Cabell Learning Commons was “awesome!”
Several Committee members complained that there is no obvious link to VCU Libraries on the main VCU website and inquired as to why that was the case. They were encouraged to make their concerns known to the University; the change was implemented some time ago, even though the VCU Libraries raised concerns about removing a prominent library link from the homepage.
Ms. Seago invited the Committee to an open house being held by the Center for Human Simulation and Patient Safety on September 22nd.
Dr. Prichard told the Committee that she was very pleased with the collaborative work between the University College and the VCU Libraries, spearheaded from the VCU Libraries by librarians Donna Coghill and Laura Westmoreland. Together with Dr. Pritchard, they did a presentation on their work at a conference in Indiana. Dr. Pritchard reported that she received very positive feedback from her colleagues in Indiana about the collaboration between University College and the VCU Libraries.
Mr. Ulmschneider reminded the Committee about upcoming events celebrating the acquisition of the Larry Levis Collection at VCU Libraries. These events will take place from September 22nd thru the 24th; more information is available on the VCU web site.
Demo: Tour of the new Cabell Learning Commons
The Committee then adjourned for the tour of the Learning Commons at 3:15 pm.