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C-7 Library Committee

The function of the University Library Committee is to inform itself of the functioning of the library sufficiently "to assist in developing operational procedures; to assist in development of both personnel and fiscal policies and procedures; to advise the Faculty Council and the president concerning the direction and growth of the library; to advise the president in the event it becomes necessary to appoint a new librarian." There were nine members of the General Faculty and seven student members (undergraduate and graduate) on the committee. Our meetings were also regularly attended and advised by the Director of General Libraries and other senior administrative library staff.

The committee met ten times during the fall and spring semesters. In addition, there were meetings of the subcommittee on digital dissertations, some informal meetings, and substantial email communications.

Our major projects were:
1. Assist in selection of new Vice Provost of General Libraries. This title replaces the Director of General Libraries title held by the current retiring director, Mr. Harold Billings. Our committee met with the three candidates for one-hour interviews, attended some of the public sessions with the candidates, examined the candidates’ resumes, and reached a consensus. The chair forwarded a written recommendation to Provost Sheldon Ekland-Olson and Dean Richard Larivere, chair of the search committee.
2.

Evaluate the current format policies for UT Austin digital dissertations and consider possible changes. In particular, we focused on the concern that there were inadequate specifications in the Office of Graduate Studies (OGS) dissertation instructions to ensure high quality digital images. We believe our project addressed an important facet of the previous library committee’s recommendation that this year’s committee examine means to improve “long-term archiving of digital dissertations.”

A subcommittee was appointed consisting of two faculty, one senior staff of OGS, one staff member of OGS, and one graduate student. The subcommittee met four times, and was also assisted and advised by a biology professor, Dr. Malcolm Brown, who ran tests on saving images in different formats. The library committee unanimously supported the subcommittee’s draft report which was given to OGS and the provost on May 21, 2003. In summary, our major recommendations were that the current system of saving digital dissertations as PDF files was adequate for dissertations with text only or text plus black and white figures. However, we recommended that dissertations containing figures with half-tone or color images be required to either save the entire thesis as a high resolution PDF file or alternatively, save the aforementioned figures at a specified high resolution within the PDF file. In addition, the images should not be compressed. The report notes, “We believe it is important that we find a good compromise in file formats that preserves image quality while being a format that does not produce excessively large files or which is difficult to use. We recognize that the standards for high quality images will change as the technology advances and our requirements will need to be periodically revised.”


In other activities, the library committee worked on several other matters:
1. Policy for loan period for bound journals. We determined that the current policy was sound but that more explicit references be made in the library literature and online that exceptions can be made to allow longer loan periods. These changes were implemented.
2. Policy on assignment of closed study carols in PCL. We concluded that the current policy and enforcement was functioning reasonably well. The committee supported allowing exceptions to the current two semesters assignment of a carol to allow a longer use period if warranted.
3. Library budget. Due to state budget shortfalls, the committee was informed about the need to cut about $1 million from the library budget for the next fiscal year. We were concerned about our library’s rankings. While UT libraries are the fifth largest library collection in the U.S., and UT Austin ranks first in holdings in over forty subject areas according to the North American Title Count, UT Austin libraries have slipped to eleventh in the latest compiled ARL Index, from ninth last year. The committee strongly supports stable, if not increased, funding of our library, as a fundamental resource vital to the University’s teaching and research missions.


We began discussions of two other topics but were limited by time and suggest that these topics be considered by next year’s library committee. These were 1) examining UT Austin’s Knowledge Gateway initiative and the role of the libraries and making any recommendations, and 2) examining new mechanisms of scholarly communications such as institutional archives and the growth of commercial and non-commercial electronic journals in a fixed or declining budget environment.


Mona Mehdy, chair


This document was posted on the Faculty Council Web site, www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/ on August 20, 2003. Paper copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, FAC 22, F9500.