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(letter to Faculty Council on loan periods)
March 21, 2000
Dear Professor Hilley:
Given the discussion of the past few weeks, Im writing to you in my position as chair of the University Library Committee (ULC). I think that it is important for you and our colleagues on Faculty Council to understand the context, intention, and focus of the recommendations to Director Billings we adopted at our March 6, 2000 meeting.
The major changes to current policies were these:
The recommendations had originated in a series of meetings of the circulation subcommittee of the ULC, made up of a faculty member and students with advice from General Libraries administrators. The two recommendations noted above, and the three others that accompanied them, were based on the deliberations of this subcommittee, the particular questions that the committee as a whole had referred to them, and a series of quite specific statistical analyses of borrowing, recall, and renewal patterns by several categories of patrons. These recommendations were adopted by consensus, with all members of the committee enthusiastically supporting them except for the two faculty members and one student who expressed reservations. Vances letter is a good representation of these reservations.
The ULC has devoted three full meetings and many online messages to discussion of library borrowing periods. All members of the committee have fully participated in those discussions as have the members of the subcommittee. We tried to be especially sensitive to dissenting opinions and to the effect of such changes on library staff and their workload.
The recommendations also reflect the concerns of VP and Dean of the Graduate School Terry Sullivan, who had asked us to increase the loan period for graduate students, especially those who had advanced to doctoral candidacy. It proved infeasible to limit such increases to only those students because of the Universitys limited ability to identify them in a consistent way.
The ULCs decisions were also based on work of the circulation subcommittee that compared our loan periods to those of many other universities that we consider our peers. Of those reported, the University of Michigan is the only one that differentiates significantly between faculty and graduate students without allowing graduate students at least three months loan. Other peer universities, however, allow graduate students either the same long loan privileges (equal to or greater than 3 months) of faculty members or virtually the same these include UCLA, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Michigan State University, and UC-Berkeley.
The increase in loan periods for graduate students and
classified staff is just good politics it reaffirms graduate students
status as fellow researchers, underscores the need for equity in important
ways for all University constituents, and reinforces President Faulkners
commitment to raise the compensation for these two important groups. The
elimination of paper mail renewals supports the Universitys evolution
to digital communication as the medium of choice and decreases costs incurred
by the General Libraries, with no significant loss to faculty members.
The ULC also adopted the final recommendation of the loan subcommittee
that a permanent subcommittee be appointed to examine these and other
questions on an ongoing basis. As should be clear, the ULC made its recommendations
only after considerable research, discussion, and debate. While the result
was not unanimous, it reflects the strong feelings of the majority of
the members of the committee, including faculty members, graduate students,
and undergraduates. If you or any of our colleagues need any further information,
I would be happy to provide it, whether in person or in writing. Thanks.