Humanities & Sciences Library Committee
4th Floor Conference Room, Cabell Library
October 26, 2012 3:00 to 4:00 pm
Denis Demchenko, Sandra Gramling, Les Harrison, Eric Hazelrigg, George Munro, Bernardo Piciche, Rebecca Segal, A. J. Shriar, James Terner, Fang-shen Wu, Linda Zyzniewski
Staff: John Ulmschneider, Pam Fraga (recording secretary)
Mr. Ulmschneider asked Rebecca Segal to serve as chair for this meeting as Dr. Laura McLay, the previous chair, is no longer on this committee. Dr. Segal agreed to serve.
Review and approvalof agenda
Dr. Zyzniewski asked that the election of a new chair be added to the agenda. It was agreed to do this as part of the last item under Reports and Discussion. With that provision, the agenda was approved. Mr. Ulmschneider thanked Dr. Segal for agreeing to chair the meeting.
Review and approval of minutes from April 2012
The minutes were approved as presented.
Changes in borrowing privileges for library materials - handout
Mr. Ulmschneider noted that the tables used in the past on the VCU Libraries web site to describe borrowing privileges were confusing and complicated. The tables made it difficult for library users to determine their borrowing privileges. He referenced the handout which shows that borrowing privileges are now reduced to only three categories (see handout for specifics). He assured the Committee that there was no reduction in privileges for anyone, just a reallocation and simplification of categories, making it easier for library users to understand their privileges.
In discussion, several items were noted:
- It’s up to the individual departments to assign “Affiliate” status to a person who is not a faculty member, student, or staff member. Affiliate status provides a person with certain library privileges. The VCU Libraries is not able to assign affiliate status to individuals. University policy governs who may be declared affiliates of the university.
- Mr. Ulmschneider will send the committee information on the OCLC Reciprocal Faculty Borrowing Program.
- The new enterprise software, Alma, allows for amnesty and VCU Libraries will be looking into this; however, outstanding collections are automatically dropped after 5 years so perhaps a formal amnesty isn’t necessary.
- Upon request, a student organization can have the same borrowing privileges as the Honors College.
Phase-out of catalog and implementation of new library enterprise software system
Mr. Ulmschneider informed the committee that the new Alma library enterprise system was implement on October 24, and asked for feedback as they began using the new system. He said that the new system searches all available resources in one search box and does not have a separate catalog search feature. He also explained that because VCU is an early adopter, the vendor has been extremely helpful and listened closely to the Libraries’ feedback.
In response to inquiries about how well this new system works, Mr. Ulmschneider showed the Committee how to first do a key word search and then how to refine that search using the options on the left hand side bar. It was requested that the option to purchase materials be more user-friendly and more easily located on the web page. Mr. Ulmschneider said this request would be kept in mind as the web page is redesigned early next year.
Reports and Discussion
New library building: status and plans - online demonstration
Mr. Ulmschneider gave a PowerPoint demonstration of the proposed space designs for the new addition to Cabell Library. He made clear that the sketches are proposed ideas only and that they will change as the design is refined and fleshed out. In his presentation he noted:
- The basement area may be needed for additional book storage, so that it might not be available as a place for student use.
- Starbucks will have more than double its current footprint with a glass-walled terrace area adjacent.
- A gender neutral restroom, as well as a mother-child room, will be included.
- Opening will hopefully be in Fall 2015
- New building will use as much natural light and green space as possible.
- During construction, Linden Street will have very limited access as safety of the students during construction is paramount.
- The current Cabell Library will remain open on its regular around-the-clock schedule during construction.
- Bridging to adjoining or nearby buildings was discussed but there’s no money for that enhancement right now.
- The book-drop may be moved out to the street.
- Once there are specific designs in hand there will be more publicity about the construction.
VCU Libraries programs: Fall 2012 - promotional pieces
• “Why Hospitals Should Fly”, lecture by John Nance in celebration of CHEC
• Visit by author Tom Robbins and VIP reception, October 19
• Annual FOL Book Sale, Oct. 22 – Oct. 26
• VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, Thursday Nov. 8, 7pm, Grace Street Theater
Mr. Ulmschneider invited the Committee members to review the promotional pieces provided.
Planning for the future of the Humanities & Sciences Library Committee - handout
Mr. Ulmschneider reviewed the history of the Committee. He noted that the committee is established and governed through the by-laws of the College of Humanities & Sciences, not the VCU Libraries. He explained that when he first came to VCU in 1999, the College did all the arranging, meeting scheduling, refreshments, minutes, etc. for the committee. He gradually had the Libraries take over those functions to assist the members and reduce their time commitment, but the membership and controlling authority for the committee remains with the College. He described how difficult it has been over the years for the committee to adhere to the guidelines for its work as established in the by-laws. It has been particularly challenging to get student representation required in the by-laws. In addition, the by-laws stipulate that the committee’s chair also sit on the VCU Libraries Advisory Committee (VLAC), which places the burden of three monthly meetings on the chair: the H&S Library Committee, the VLAC, and the Faculty Council of the College. Furthermore, there historically has been considerable overlap between the committee’s age and concerns, and those of the VLAC.
In 2011-12, the chair and the committee, working together, decided to meet only twice a semester, with the concerns of the H&S Committee to be relayed regularly to VLAC by the University Librarian, and that a committee representative other than the chair could attend the VLAC meeting to represent the committee. Mr. Ulmschneider said he had contacted the Faculty Council for guidance on this and had received no answer. He had also asked Alison Baski (Dean’s office) about this and per her request, Dr. Zyzniewski had brought this matter to the meeting today.
Mr. Ulmschneider pointed out that the usefulness of this committee seems to be diminishing as the Libraries are better able now to work directly with departments and schools in the College. He suggested that the committee could retire itself, much as the School of the Arts Library Committee did at the end of academic year 2011-12. The case for suspending the committee’s meetings is particularly compelling given the overlapping nature and work of the H&S Committee and VLAC, and the time required on the part of the committee members to attend meetings. Dr. Baski, along with Dr. Zyzniewski, suggested a year of transition with the opportunity to consult with colleagues specifically on this matter. In the discussion which followed, some of the ideas mentioned included:
- Noted that VLAC meets monthly and Dr. Harrison is on both VLAC and H&S, providing double coverage.
- Concerns expressed as to whether or not 2 people are enough to adequately represent the whole College
- VLAC is focused on major policy items whereas it’s not clear what the function of the H&S Committee is, especially if there is good communication between the College and the Libraries through the liaison librarians.
- Suspending the H&S Committee while having the VLAC representatives report to their H&S counterpart was discussed and met with a positive response.
- By-laws haven’t been updated since 1986 so the idea of a suspension could be written in when updating these.
- Only this committee has individual departmental representation; some members of the college seemed to rely on this and some don’t seem to need it at all.
- It is important to strengthen departmental connections between the College and the Libraries with the expanding liaison program, which provides more personalized points of contact. This might prove to be more functional than retaining the full H&S committee.
Based on the tone and sense of the room, it was decided to ask the members to go back to their departments and discuss this with them and with the Faculty Council.
Because the Committee was going to be in place at least through to the next meeting in January, Dr. Gramling volunteered and was elected by acclimation as the new chair.
Dr. Gramling and Mr. Ulmschneider will confer on the next steps to be taken.
The meeting adjourned at 4:25 pm.