VCU Libraries Advisory Committee
4th Floor Conference Room, Cabell Library
November 19, 2010 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Angelica Bega-Hart, Jan Chlebowski, Rosemary Farmer, Cindy Jong, Allen Lee, Roy McKelvey (chair), Jana McQuaid, Faye Prichard, Karen Rader, Brenda Seago
Absent with notice
Mary Baechle, Bonnie Davis, Corey Davis, Linda Hughes, Patricia Strong, Ann Wiesner
Nathaniel Markson, Raj Rao
John Duke, Teresa Knott, Dan Ream, John Ulmschneider, Pam Fraga (recording secretary)
Guest: Laura Westmoreland, Undergraduate Student Librarian
Prior to the start of the meeting, Mr. McKelvey announced that Brenda Seago had successfully defended her doctoral dissertation. There was a round of heartfelt applause for the new Dr. Seago.
Review and approval of agenda
The agenda was approved as presented.
Review and approval of minutes from October 2010
The minutes were approved as presented.
Video materials loan policy - handout
Mr. Ulmschneider reported that the VCUArts Library Committee had asked about the loan policy for VHS tapes and had noted some inconsistencies. The VCU Libraries reviewed the issue and now proposes a new loan policy for all film materials that resolves the inconsistencies and provides for much simpler loan periods. Mr. Ulmschneider referred to the handout, which compares the current policy with the proposed policy. The changes are self-explanatory, but Mr. Ulmschneider underscored that because some film materials are either extremely rare (out of print and no longer available in any format) and/or extremely expensive, loan periods for some materials will be shorter than the proposed loan period. In some cases the materials may be restricted to in-library use only.
A motion was made, seconded and approved unanimously to endorse the proposed new loan policy for media materials.
VCU Libraries benefits for faculty partners
Mr. Ulmschneider reported that the VCU Libraries has recently reviewed library privileges for faculty partners (spouses and domestic partners). As part of the review, staff investigated the policies of other universities for faculty partners and found no consistent professional practice in this area: policy varies widely from school to school. Since there is no policy now and no consistent practice in other research libraries, the VCU Libraries’ Management Council will develop a new policy to govern library privileges for faculty partners. The proposed policy likely will allow partners to borrow library materials, but not provide access to library digital collections from off-campus locations or interlibrary loan privileges. It is not anticipated that this limited use will noticeably affect staff workload.
December 2010 VLAC meeting
Following the example of the previous years, there will be no meeting in December
Reports and Discussion
Library dashboard: metrics and dashboard design - online demonstration
Mr. Ulmschneider reported that VCU Libraries has begun to assemble metrics for a new “library dashboard”: a website with graphical expressions of key metrics related to library activity and goals. The University has developed dashboard templates for academic units, but these do not match up well with data that characterizes library activity. Instead, the VCU Libraries has developed graphical expressions of library data using Google Docs, which will simplify input and maintenance of the data. Mr. Ulmschneider demonstrated dashboards from other universities to give the Committee a sense of how dashboards in academic environments work, including some in libraries.
Mr. Duke said that there will be two areas of emphasis for the VCU Libraries’ dashboard: activity data, such as visitor counts and volume growth, and assessment data, such as survey data on library quality and data on private giving. The dashboard will expand on data already under the “Facts and Figures” page on the VCU Libraries’ web site. The use of live data feeds will be limited; for example, it will be difficult to show visitor counts throughout the day. Instead, the data on the dashboard will be snapshot summaries, updated regularly.
In discussion, it was suggested that one of the metrics should show VCU’s ranking among ARL institutions, and progress towards improving that ranking. Mr. Ulmschneider reported that a graphic for this metric is planned.
The dashboard will be visible to all users, though the intended audience is the VCU community and leadership. It will be an effective way to communicate how VCU Libraries is using its resources. Mr. Ulmschneider encouraged Committee members with suggestions about data points for the dashboard to send them to him. There is no deadline for this project, but staff hope a prototype will be ready for review in January.
Use of Cabell Library and group study reservation system - display graph
Mr. Ulmschneider displayed a graph showing the huge spike in use of Cabell Library since the opening of the Cabell Learning Commons. October activity was up over last year’s record peak use by 50%, exceeding 307,000 visitors. Overall, the VCU Libraries likely will exceed 1 million visitors into library buildings in the first semester.
Mr. Ulmschneider also reported that use of the new online reservation system for group study rooms also has been very high: there have been over 13,000 reservations with at least 11,000 actual uses. Students seem to be complying well with the policies regarding use of the group study rooms.
Announcements: Public fax service; cultural program events, 2010-11; annual Friends of the Library booksale - handouts
Mr. Ulmschneider reported that prior to this fall, the VCU Libraries has not provided a fax machine for student use, although there have often requests for such a service. Beginning November 4, a new public, for-fee fax service has been set up in Cabell Library. The service is provided by a private company, which handles all the maintenance in exchange for the bulk of the service fee (the VCU Libraries receives a small portion of the fee.) The handout describes fees and the location of the new fax machines in Cabell.
Mr. Ulmschneider updated the Committee about the upcoming cultural programs:
- During the week of January 25th, Friends of the Library will be sponsoring a travel exhibit and a forum on Islam in America.
- On February 10th, the VCU Libraries’ annual Black History Month lecture will feature Melissa Harris-Perry, noted speaker and commentator on race relations in America.
- On March 24th, the VCU Libraries hosts the annual Brown-Lyons Lecture with Dr. Jack Spiro. The title this year: “How Jewish was Jesus?”
There will be more detailed information as the dates for these events draw closer.
Mr. Ulmschneider reported that the recent FOL Booksale was an outstanding success, generating over $17,000 this year, up from $11,000 last year. He said that there was strong student participation, and many student customers came back multiple times. This year, the Friends changed its policy for the normal pre-event sale, which allows Friends into the sale 3 hours before opening it to the public: book sellers, who often join Friends groups for access to used books, were not allowed to use their scanners during the pre-event period. While this was not received happily by a few book sellers, most were agreeable, and students seemed to appreciate the “leveling of the playing field.” Additionally, a great many of the new VCU Libraries book bags were sold, raising an additional $300. In discussion, it was noted that any remnants from this year’s sale will be recycled so that next year the stock will be all new.
Mr. Ulmschneider reported that during the booksale, the VCU Libraries received a surprise donation from an anonymous person in Alaska: over 2 tons of comic books valued at over $40,000. The VCU Libraries celebrates this acquisition and continues to grow its top-ranked collections in the comic arts.
Demo: LibGuides research literature guides - online demonstration
Ms. Westmoreland demonstrated LibGuides, a new research assistance tool, which replaces the previous “Resource Guides”. LibGuides are organized by subject and include journals, databases, and monographs related to the subject. She showed how to access the LibGuides and then how to drill down using a variety of searching mechanisms and intentions. She pointed out that this new format is much more user-friendly for less experienced researchers and uses a minimum of scrolling. It’s also easier for the staff to manipulate and add data. Faculty requests for new LibGuides for new subjects are welcomed.
In discussion, Dr. Prichard thanked Ms. Westmoreland and the staff, saying that her students’ use of the library has more than doubled because of the assistance given by Ms. Westmoreland and the Research and Instructional Services department.
Ms. Knott thanked the VLAC members for their participation in the recent interview lunches during the search for Associate University Librarian for Public Services. She said that their feedback and enthusiasm were very helpful in giving the candidates an overview of the relationship with the various advisory committees and VCU Libraries, as well as giving the search committee the benefit of their evaluations of the candidates.
The meeting adjourned at 3:15pm.