Humanities & Sciences Library Committee
4th Floor Conference Room, Cabell Library
September 23, 2011 3:00 to 4:00 pm
Alison Baski, Denis Demchenko, Antonio Espinoza (for George Munro), Eric Hazelrigg, Laura McLay, Bernardo Piciche, A. J. Shriar, James Terner, Clarence Thomas, Fang-shen Wu
Staff: Dennis Clark, John Ulmschneider, Pam Fraga (recording secretary)
Mr. Ulmschneider informed the Committee that the chair elected by the Committee last year, Dr. Bonnie Davis, has left the University. In the absence of a chair, he volunteered to open the meeting and address the two agenda items prior to the agenda item on electing a new chair. He noted that the new chair, as agreed last year, would serve for 2 years.
Review and approval of agenda
Dr. Shriar asked about the loss of the database GeoBase. Mr. Ulmschneider said he would follow up on that and assured Dr. Shriar that information in GeoBase was available from other sources held by VCU Libraries.
With that explanation, rather than add the item to the 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
Mr. Ulmschneider explained the responsibilities of the chair as described in the H&S Faculty Bylaws, which include representing the Committee and the College at the monthly meetings of the VLAC, or designating someone from the Committee for that purpose. He called for volunteers and Dr. Laura McLay offered to serve. She was given a round of applause and elected by acclimation. She then assumed chairing the meeting.
Smoking near Cabell Library
Mr. Ulmschneider noted that the VCU Libraries has been reluctant to address the issue of smoking in front of Cabell Library because a change will inconvenience smokers and have an impact on staff who smoke. However, two issues have been raised which motivate a change. The first is that smoke from outside the building comes in through the exterior book-drop slot and into the Circulation Desk area in Cabell, enough to affect staff. The second is that VCU Libraries has received several complaints from individuals with mobility impairments who have to use the ramps to enter the building. These people often have to navigate through groups of students who are smoking on and near the ramps. The smoke presents special challenges to mobility-impaired persons, especially those who also have respiratory problems. The appropriate solution is to ban smoking within 50 feet of the front of the buildings and the ramps. Mr. Ulmschneider said that the staff have looked into the legality of doing this and are assured by HR that this is legal. The State regulation for smoking around State owned buildings allows for a minimum of 25 feet.
In discussion, Committee members raised the issue of enforcement. There was consensus that enforcement will be difficult, a perception shared by members of the VCU Libraries Advisory Committee. “No smoking” signs will be installed and the hope is that eventually popular pressure and education will change the public behavior. It was noted that Tompkins-McCaw Library does not have a problem with smoking because the entire MCV campus is designated “no smoking.” Eventually there may be a designated smoking place near Cabell Library, but currently there are no funds to build a shelter or otherwise establish a designated spot. It was generally felt that VCU Libraries should “just do it and have a strong campaign to notify the public.” A motion was made, seconded and passed unanimously to support the plan to institute a no smoking policy.
Mr. Ulmschneider noted that the new doors for Cabell Library were installed before the start of classes, and thanked VCU Facilities for getting the job done so quickly. One Committee member asked if the new doors have affected the count of library users. Mr. Ulmschneider replied that the counters are in the ceiling behind the security gates, so the new doors did not change the way users are counted. The doors appear to be much easier to use than the old ones and it is hoped that they will be less expensive to keep in good repair.
In discussing the doors, the subject of the temperature in the building came up. Mr. Ulmschneider told the Committee that it’s possible the new doors might allow too much cold air into the building during the winter, as often happened with the old doors. VCU Facilities has committed to installing a heat curtain just in front of the security gates to help with that problem. Installation is expected before the start of cold weather.
Reports and Discussion
Quest for Distinction and 6-year budget plan for VCU and VCU Libraries - handout
Mr. Ulmschneider reminded the Committee that the previous VCU2020 strategic plan had been revised and sent forward to the Board of Visitors last spring as the new Quest for Distinction strategic plan. The Board adopted the new plan in May 2011. Among the many important metrics with which the University will measure success in implementing Quest is the goal of achieving membership in the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) for VCU’s library system. Funding needed to accomplish this goal has been made part of the University’s overall 6-year budget plan, and includes expanded funding for purchasing library materials. The additional funding will allow the VCU Libraries to address long-standing needs in humanities and social sciences, as well as maintain its excellent collections in science, medicine, and technology. The funding plan also includes necessary staff to manage the larger collections: acquiring materials, processing them and making them available, and providing instructional and research assistance for faculty and students to help them make best use of these resources. Strengthened funding also will support longer building hours for both library facilities.
- VCU Libraries programs - handouts
Watercolors by Victor Yanchick: August 15-November 23, 2011. Exhibit at Tompkins-McCaw Library of watercolor paintings by Dean Victor Yanchick of the School of Pharmacy. After this exhibit, it is possible that the works on display will be auctioned at TML in a December auction event. Proceeds will go toward scholarships in 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 6 – September 23, 2011. The wall of memories (post-it notes by students about their reactions and experiences) has become quite a feature. Originally only one white board was put out for use but there are now five whiteboards covered in the notes.
- 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-size copy of the Constitution in English and Spanish. Sept. 12 – Sept. 18, 2011. VCU Libraries is now the designated department at VCU to honor 9/17, Constitution Day, a requirement of every university receiving government funding.
- Tayari Jones visit and reading: Acclaimed novelist will read from her third novel, Silver Sparrow, and dialog with the audience, October 7, 2011 7:00-9:00pm, Richmond Salons. This is an up and coming new African-American author, a very engaging speaker.
Demo and discussion: Primo, a new way to search VCU's library collection - online demonstration
Mr. Clark gave an overview of Primo, explaining that librarians call it a “discovery tool”, not a “search tool”, because of its broad coverage of library collections. A search tool is designed to search specific databases – for example, the library catalog – whereas a discovery tool searches many data sources simultaneously. He said that Primo provides this type of searching with a Google-like interface, and includes the library catalog as part of the search. The interface returns a search result set, which the user can then explore based on the type of material, source of material, date, author, year of publication, or other parameters. The interface combines types of materials into one result list, so that it shows videos, books, journal articles, data sets, and wherever else is retrieved as part of the result set. Mr. Clark noted that not all the library system’s collections are available yet through this tool, but most are, and more are being added daily. This kind of “discovery tool” technology is rapidly becoming the default for library searching, and eventually will cover nearly all library collections.
He then showed how to do several searches based on keyword entry, and demonstrated how to drill down by choice into specific areas.
Mr. Clark said that the full, beta version will be available to the public later in the fall.
During discussion at the end of the meeting, a Committee member asked about whether VCU has a subscription to MLA, primarily for students searching for research and teaching positions in higher education. Mr. Ulmschneider said he would investigate. He did say there the VCU Libraries provides an online subscription to the Chronicle of Higher Education which is available to anyone at VCU.
The meeting adjourned at 4:10 pm.