VCU Humanities & Sciences Library Committee
4th Floor Conference Room, James Branch Cabell Library
January 22, 2010 3:00 to 4:15 pm
Christopher Brooks (chair), Leigh Ann Craig, Bonnie Davis (chair-elect), Denis Demchenko, Sandra Gramling, Les Harrison, Eric Hazelrigg, Janet Hutchinson, Catherine Ingrassia, Bernardo Piciche, Jill Rowe, Rebecca Segal, A. J. Shriar, James Terner, Mike Valdman
Staff: Pat Flanagan, Dan Ream, John Ulmschneider, Pam Fraga (recording secretary)
Guest: John Glover, VCU Libraries
Review and approval of agenda
The agenda was approved as presented.
Review and approval of minutes from April 2009
The minutes were approved as presented.
Election of committee chair for 2009-10
Dr. Brooks welcomed the Committee members. He noted that this was the first meeting for academic year 2009-10 because it had been difficult to get all the departmental representatives in place. He thanked Dr. Ingrassia for her assistance in finally making this happen.
Dr. Brooks introduced Dr. Davis, who had volunteered to stand for election as the next chair. He asked if there were any other volunteers or nominees. Hearing none, the vote was unanimous and very welcoming for Dr. Davis to assume the leadership of this Committee. Dr. Davis then assumed chairing the rest of the meeting, first thanking and welcoming Dr. Ingrassia and Mr. Ulmschneider.
Library collections and storage initiative - handout
Mr. Ulmschneider thanked Dr. Brooks for his excellent leadership of this Committee for the past two years, saying he had thoroughly enjoyed working with Dr. Brooks and admired how Dr. Brooks had served the Committee.
Mr. Ulmschneider noted that he had sent an email to the Committee regarding the initiative to relocate some collection materials to storage and to dispose of some materials by recycling. To clear off the second floor for the new Learning Commons, materials there will be relocated, either to the first floor of Cabell, to storage in the basement of Cabell, or to the new storage facility at 500 Academic Centre. To make room in these locations for the 2nd floor materials, some materials will be removed from the collections and sent to the University’s recycling contractor. Materials targeted for removal fall into four broad categories:
- Superceded print indexes: these are indexes that now exist entirely online. The VCU Libraries discontinued the print version of many of the indexes in the 1990s.
- Superceded reference titles: reference works that have been replaced by later editions and which have no intrinsic scholarly value.
- Duplicated print journals: where the library system owns two print copies of a journal, the best print copy will be retained and the duplicate copy removed from the collection.
- Materials from the Patent and Trademark collection. VCU Libraries withdrew from the Patent Trademark Repository Program in spring 2009, since these materials now are all available online.
Mr. Ulmschneider underscored that library materials which have any intrinsic value or usefulness, that might be relevant to programs at VCU, or are likely to be requested by patrons, will not be removed from the collection. He also assured the Committee that every reference index identified for removal is available digitally, and that no indexes without digital versions will be removed. The detailed criteria for selecting items that will be removed from the collection appear in the handout and on the VCU Libraries web site. The web site also contains a complete list of every title that will be removed from the collection. (Duplicate print copies are not listed.)
Members of the Committee expressed concern about print journals that duplicate online content: will these journals be eliminated? Mr. Ulmschneider explained that in the past, the VCU Libraries sometimes maintained two print subscriptions to a journal so that a copy could be placed at each library. One complete run of duplicated print journals (containing those journals in the best physical condition) will be retained; the second copy of the print volumes will be discarded and sent to the recycling contractor. This will have no effect on print versions of digital journals: if the library system owns a print version of a digital journal, the print version will be retained in the collection. Decisions about retention affect only print volumes with more than one copy in the collections.
The Committee asked Mr. Ulmschneider to look into whether or not it will be possible to check out bound copies of journals. He said he would and would report back to them on this at the next meeting. The Committee also expressed concern about the fate of outdated encyclopedias and similar works. Mr. Ulmschneider explained that only items deemed to have no intrinsic or scholarly value will be considered for removal. A list of all the materials that will be removed has been made available at the web site on the handout. Faculty may ask for any item that has been identified for removal from VCU’s collections by using the email link on the web page listing items that will be removed. Those items can then be reassigned from the VCU Libraries to the requestor’s department. (Since library materials are technically State property, they cannot be given to individual faculty members or students.)
Mr. Ulmschneider noted that research libraries nationwide are exploring the best way to preserve print volumes without the overall costs of storing the same materials in tens or hundreds of libraries across the country. Research libraries are developing criteria and guidelines by which a handful of libraries agree to store a copy of a particular item on behalf of all libraries, allowing others to dispose of their copies.
Mr. Ulmschneider said that the Committee has provided the most feedback on this initiative of anyone in the VCU community, and he noted his gratitude. The matter of what constituted duplication is obviously critical and had not been raised before – clearly, the explanations on the web page and in the emails were not clear enough, so the web page language will be edited.
Reports and Discussion
Update on library space planning - slides
Mr. Ulmschneider explained that VCU Libraries had hired BCWH, a consulting firm used frequently by VCU, to develop a comprehensive library space analysis for both VCU campuses. BCWH brought in library expertise through a contact with Tappe Associates, a consulting firm specializing in libraries. During the fall semester, the consultants met with faculty, deans, the Provost, students, staff, and other stakeholders to talk about library needs, and also gathered quantitative profile information about VCU and the VCU Libraries. Together, the interviews and data will allow the consultants to develop a comprehensive view of current library space needs at VCU and projected space needs over the next 20-30 years. The consulting firms completed their research phase in December and will be finishing a final report in the spring. The VCU Libraries will share that report with the Committee when it becomes available.
Mr. Ulmschneider then stepped through some slides showing the space design and allocations for 500 Academic Centre and the Learning Commons area. He reported that one of the items recently added to the 2nd floor are white boards in the study rooms. Apparently they’re very popular with students and if there aren’t any, the students use the windows! He showed the various floor plans and layouts for the new space, including plans for the multipurpose room, which will be available for students when not in use as a classroom. Additionally, there will be power outlets at nearly every study space. Mr. Ulmschneider pointed out that in the near future, the demand for desktop computers will decline as students make greater use of laptops and hand-held devices, which may result in greater need for electrical outlets.
In discussion, Mr. Ulmschneider explained that the new library building will be focused on student work space, including work space for graduate students. The new building is at least 5 years in the future; it is second on VCU’s priority list for capital improvements, after the desperately needed new classroom building that will go up across the street from Harris Hall, on the current VV parking lot. Construction schedules are complicated by the fact that the state has reached its debt limit, which must be raised before funding can be allocated for the classroom building and, eventually, a new library.
Restoration of some hours and services
Mr. Ulmschneider told the Committee that to meet budget constraints, some services and operations had been reduced. However, through staff reassignments and with funding from unexpectedly vacant positions, it has been possible to restore some services. Restoration of hours at Tompkins-McCaw Library had emerged during the fall as a top priority, along with 24x5 service at the end of the semester. In response to those priorities, services were adjusted in three areas:
- TML will again be open on Saturdays and will keep its full hours of operation across the summer months
- Hours have been restored to Media and Reserve Services
- The 24/5 service was restored for 1 week in December and for the full 3 weeks this coming May, 2010.
Mr. Ulmschneider underscored that the VCU Libraries did not receive additional funding for these changes, but accomplished them through reassignments and funding from unexpected vacancies. He noted that Vice-president Bennett’s recent report on the budget is a very sobering projection of the dramatic budget reductions facing VCU over the next two years. So far, VCU has not reduced funding for the purchase of library materials, since these are so important to the work of students and faculty throughout VCU, and particularly important to existing and planned graduate programs. However, personnel and operating budgets within the VCU Libraries have been reduced.
Demo: VCU Libraries new web site - handout
Mr. Glover began by referring to the handout, a printout of the VCU Libraries web page. He then walked the Committee through the various features on the new page, highlighting and explaining, among others, the following:
- RSS feeds, which are now available in almost all areas of study
- Tools & Gadgets which allows links to various mobile tools, RSS, etc.
- Presentation rehearsal studio – on the first floor, allows students and faculty to practice presentations, record them and then transport via USB drives
- Top Resources, which used to be Quick Links
- Compass, which has in one location the various instructional resources available through VCU Libraries, including instructional consultation for faculty
- Facebook links, which has proven to be a very useful communications tool
Mr. Ulmschneider added that the design is driven by usability concerns and largely by data on what students and faculty needed and used the most. The digital collection is located in the very center of the page (the Commonwealth Times will be digitalized very soon), and there are features such as tag clouds to aid users in finding resources quickly.
Mr. Ulmschneider then pointed out the handout related to the Black History Month Lecture on February 9th, an event planned to coordinate with the lecture series being done by Virginia Union University. He also told the Committee about the upcoming Brown-Lyons Lecture on March 25th. This should be a very special event as Dr. Spiro will be speaking about his experience at the trial of Adolf Eichmann.
Mr. Ulmschneider told the Committee that this was Pat Flanagan’s last day with VCU Libraries. She is moving on to Brandeis University. He thanked Ms. Flanagan for her efforts and contributions, especially to the creation of the Learning Commons and the Art Browsery areas. The Committee thanked her with a round of applause.
The meeting adjourned at 4:15 p.m. No date was set for the next meeting.