Humanities & Sciences Library Committee
4th Floor Conference Room, James Branch Cabell Library
March 26, 2010 3:00 to 4:00 pm
Leigh Ann Craig, Bonnie Davis (chair), Eric Hazelrigg, Craig Larson, Laura McLay, A. J. Shriar, James Terner
Staff: Dan Ream, John Ulmschneider, Pam Fraga (recording secretary)
Guest: Laura Westmoreland, Undergraduate Student Programs Librarian
Review and approval of agenda
The agenda was approved as presented.
Review and approval of minutes from February 2010
The minutes were approved as presented.
Meeting schedule for 2010-11
Dr. Davis reported that she and Mr. Ulmschneider had talked about the frequency of meetings and she asked him to comment on their discussion. Mr. Ulmschneider noted that there is some overlap between the VCU Libraries Advisory Committee (VLAC) and the Humanities and Sciences Library Committee, since either the chair of the Committee or a representative from the Committee also sits on VLAC. (A second representative for the College also is appointed to VLAC by the College, independent of the Committee.) Since VLAC meets monthly (and will continue to do so), it may not be necessary for the H&S Library Committee to meet that often. He reported that the VCUArts Library Committee has changed to a schedule of 2 meetings each semester. The by-laws for the H&S Library Committee permit the change, since don’t specify how often the committee must meet.
In the discussion which followed, it was asked if there was enough business to need a monthly meeting. The consensus was that 2 meetings per semester would likely be sufficient, especially since the Committee chair retains the option to convene a meeting at any time should the need arise.
A motion was made, seconded and approved unanimously to meet on the last Fridays of September and November, 2010 and January and April 2011.
Policy and monitoring of group study rooms in library facilities
Mr. Ulmschneider asked for the advice and input of the Committee on the subject of student misuse of the group study rooms in Cabell Library. He said that while there are more group study rooms than in the past, the problem of vying for their use appears to be getting worse. He said that on Sundays, the crowding and shoving to get in the building when it opens at 1:00 has reached the level where it might constitute a danger to students and staff. People are aggressive in their effort to get into the building first and then running to the group study rooms to secure one for themselves and/or their group. In addition, students have been known “set up camp”, keeping the rooms for hours or even days, and sometimes even bringing in small appliances to prepare food. There have been angry confrontations between groups wanting the spaces; some of these have required that staff call the security guards to restore calm. This problem seems to be escalating as the academic year progresses. Mr. Ulmschneider said that VCU Libraries has taken some steps to try and curtail the problem.
- Beginning Sunday March 28, JBC will open at 11:00. It’s hoped that most students won’t want to use the library quite that early, and that those who come to the building later will not be met by a locked door and so won’t feel the need to push for entry. This extra time will cost over $100 per day, but that cost is less than the cost for additional security.
- Building patrols by the security guards have been increased to once per hour, and guards have been asked to especially monitor study rooms.
- Staff are investigating ways to allow users to reserve group study rooms for specific periods of time.
Mr. Ulmschneider said it is not just an enforcement and management problem: student cooperation is needed to improve the student culture of mutual respect and consideration of one another in the use of important assets like study rooms. To that end, staff have met with students in the Cabell Library Undergraduate Advisory Committee and will meet with Cabell Life Forum in April to discuss ways to engage students in a meaningful dialogue about treating one another with appropriate respect and consideration when conflicts arise.
In the discussion which followed, several points were discussed:
- There needs to be some way to control room use, to “check out” the rooms
- Some buildings on campus have a central locking mechanism which allows the rooms to be unlocked with an electronic key. Mr. Ulmschneider noted that this option is not possible in Cabell Library without major physical plant renovations in the building.
- Students will likely find a way to “game” the system, any system.
- Strong concern for staff and student safety regarding this issue.
- Students are actually studying in these rooms; very seldom are the rooms not being used as intended.
- The Student Commons, while open, is not really a good study place; it lacks resource support and appropriate study spaces.
- Right now there is no sign-up option to use the rooms; it’s first come, first served.
- The presentation room has a system that relies on fines: if a user exceeds their reservation, they are fined a substantial amount. This has been successful in motivating users to be more punctual.
- The problem seems to have escalated with the opening of the new 2nd floor study spaces.
- While there was some skepticism about the efficacy of “group” study, it was generally agreed that there simply isn’t enough space for the number of students and students will not go to other buildings (classrooms, Hibbs, etc) to study; they want to study in the library.
There was a great deal of discussion about other methods of reserving and using the group study rooms. Dr. McLay related that at her former institution, the library had a sign-up system that established a minimum number of people for a room, and at least 3 of the people had to show up with IDs in hand to claim the room. Additionally, the reservation would be for a specific amount of time on a specific day, thus allowing all users the option to reserve and to know when their study time would be. A further refinement was that users could only reserve 1 day in advance, thus preventing a person from staking out a room, even by reservation, for multiple days. The Committee agreed that if VCU Libraries had this type of reservation system, it would effectively eliminate the need for groups to confront each other. There should also be a policy to address the situation that covers late arrivals, perhaps allowing the next person or group to take the space.
Mr. Ulmschneider thanked the Committee for their helpful suggestions. He reminded them that it was this committee that had suggested a revision to the closing policy so that it was done much more efficiently and effectively, so their input really does make a difference for students. He said that with the 2nd floor renovations to be completed this summer, it was imperative that some system to handle this problem be in place soon.
Reports and Discussion
Library space study findings, MCV Campus
Mr. Ulmschneider gave an update on the work of the library space consultants who began working with the VCU Libraries in fall 2009. He reported that the senior library leadership recently met with the team in a five-hour session to synthesize the data gathered and help finalize the first part of the report. A second meeting will be scheduled in April to finalize the quantitative and benchmarking portion of the report. He displayed a slide of the timeline for the overall project to show the current status, and indicated that the final report for qualitative and quantitative findings will be finished in late May. Following that, the consulting team will report on how library space might best be designed for expected use.
In addition to the overall space analysis, two other themes are emerging from the report. First, the data underscores the need for an off-site storage facility for library materials to accommodate future collection growth. Second, the report identifies design and mechanical challenges with the aging TML facilities that threaten some collections and, in much of the building, provide poor support for the contemporary academic work needs of students and faculty on the MCV Campus. Overall, it is becoming clear that improving VCU’s library facilities will be a multi-faceted project that extends well beyond the proposed new library building on the Monroe Park Campus.
In discussion, it was said that TML is primarily used by students and not by many faculty, while JBC is actively used by both facets of the University. At TML, the faculty is much more research focused and so uses the online resources much more than at the other campus.
Closure of Visual Resource Center ("slide library") - handout
Mr. Ulmschneider referred to the handouts. He reported that based on current use and the growth of digital resources, the School of the Arts had decided to close the Visual Resource Center (VRC). He said that this is not a simple task: there are over 600,000 slides in its collection, and the final disposition of those slides is of critical importance. A task force from the School of the Arts and VCU Libraries is being convened to determine how to close down VRC and what to do with the slides. While some may be given to professors and some to departments and some destroyed, it is imperative that nothing with intrinsic value be lost. He asked the Committee to discuss this with their colleagues and to please get back to him with any suggestions they might have. Mr. Ulmschneider pointed out that there are multiple resources available to supplement and/or replace much of the collection, including collections such as ArtSTor.
Demo: Academic Search Complete
Ms. Westmoreland gave a demonstration of this exciting new database. She showed several ways to access it through the VCU Libraries web site, pointing out that it is both a good tool for beginner researchers and for advanced work. The user can use a single search statement to explore one, some, or all of the EBSCO databases. The user also can refine those searches or search in depth in one of the specific resource databases within EBSCO. Reference libraries of articles that individual students build for themselves can now be retained for future use. Additionally, citations and articles that are retrieved can be emailed to another user or to oneself. She also pointed out the Alert/Save/Share feature, which is especially helpful as new information is added. Ms. Westmoreland encouraged the members of the Committee to contact VCU Libraries for instructional assistance or for presentations in their classes, as course integration is one of the many resources available at VCU Libraries.
Mr. Ulmschneider thanked those present who had attended the Brown-Lyons lecture the night before, saying that it had been a very moving and significant event.
The meeting adjourned at 4:15 pm. The next meeting is April 30th.