Click here to view document of compiled annual reports in portable document format (PDF)

Library Committee

The function of the University Library Committee (ULC) 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 ten members of the General Faculty and seven student members (undergraduate and graduate) on the committee. Our meetings were also regularly attended and advised by Dr. Fred Heath, vice provost of general libraries, and other senior administrative library staff. The committee met seven times during the fall and spring semesters.

Our discussions focused mainly on the following issues:

Library funding and the consequences of insufficient resources.

Budget and financial situation of the General Libraries, most notably in relation to the library fee structure, the need for the fee, the positive aspects of the fee, and finally the improbability of the General Libraries becoming a near-term beneficiary of projected tuition increases.
The state of the libraries on campus, especially the startling unevenness in the quality of distinct libraries on campus. For example, while jewels such as Harry Ransom Center (HRC), Law, the Center for American History, and the Benson Latin American Collection are outstanding, world-class collections, the general research collections exhibit a certain porosity in retrospective holdings.
Materials expenditures, such as money spent on monographs and its relation to the rising costs of electronic serials. The unsettling fact of an increasing gap between the cost of serials (print and electronic) and the money the General Libraries can spend. The money-saving role of UT’s participation in ALCEP (UT System) and other consortia that serve to spread the costs of serial purchases among all members.
Also, library staff presented a cost-benefit analysis of the e-journal market. This included the rising costs of e-journals, differences between the situation Cornell and Harvard are facing with Elsevier and the situation at UT Austin, where we currently benefit from a membership with UT System libraries (15 members participating in one contract with Elsevier, so that UT Austin pays for 730 journal subscriptions and has access to over 1600). As an example of the benefits of this arrangement, UT Austin students downloaded over 250,000 Elsevier PDF documents last year.
Avenues for additional funding to address needed retrospective purchases were discussed including the student fee, indirect costs from grants, faculty start-up burses, endowment fund-raising, dean’s special funds, etc.

Dr. Heath presented a proposal for a 3% increase of the library fee in order to address the immediate budget shortfall facing the General Libraries. The fee is needed to:
maintain current book and serial purchasing levels
bring in the new integrated library system
continue retrospective collection enhancement (filling in the holes)
fund merit increases for staff

The Library Committee voted unanimously to endorse the 3% increase in student library fees proposed by Dr. Heath.

Presentations made to the Library Committee:

Formation of Student Library Council.
The Student Library Council was formed, at the initiative of Dr. Heath, as a means of maintaining effective communication channels between student organizations and the General Libraries. The council will work with library administrators in reviewing library issues and policies of interest to students.

Planning for growth.
Because of Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL) growth (library collection grows enough each year to fill two houses) and increasing demands on its space, the committee discussed options for moving services such as PCL Maps and creating new space at the Pickle Research Center (PRC) for a state-of-the-art facility for imaging, preservation, digitization, and other technical services. A $25K feasibility grant is being pursued for new construction at the PRC at a construction cost of $110/sq. ft. vs. $400/sq. ft. on campus.

Integrated Library System (ILS).
Mark McFarland, a member of the Steering Committee created for the Request For Proposal (RFP) process, presented Library Committee members with details of the planned integrated library computer system. Committee members provided input to Mr. McFarland. Vendors will be invited to demonstrate their systems on campus early in 2004, and the new system will be up and running (in parallel with the old system for a while) in fall 2005. Subsequently, the committee was informed that a Request for Information (RFI) had been sent to system vendors. The new system will have additional flexibility, such as allowing departmental libraries to set their own checkout policies.

Library Instruction.
Damon Jaggars informed Library Committee members regarding plans for library instruction; that is, how to utilize the resources of the University library. This would be taught in specialized classes or information literacy could be integrated into the curriculum. Subject specialists (bibliographers) would do most of the instruction, with support from LIILS (Library Instruction and Information Literacy Services). Discussion also centered on the concept of information literacy (the ability to identify and articulate an information need, knowledge of available resources and how to interact with them, decisions as to whether information is relevant and reliable, and the ability to use and cite the information) and the importance of assessing it in students.

Virtual Reference.
Damon Jaggars also brought to the attention of committee members concerns regarding the role of the librarian in the future. One possible insight into that role may be the popularity of the virtual reference librarian, through the Ask a Librarian function on the library’s home page or through e-mail communication between librarian and patrons (students and faculty). These functions are increasing in popularity as evidenced by the 1500 e-mail requests in the past three months.

LibQUAL+ Summit.
Dr. Heath informed committee members about the Library Summit prior to its March 29 date. Its purpose was to present campus community with the state of its libraries, to engage the community in the future of the libraries, and to use ideas from the summit to build strategic goals for improving the libraries.

The committee examined the question of renewals, specifically whether a blanket renewal policy is the best policy for the entire university community. It was the consensus of the committee that it would be good policy to attempt to incorporate individual departmental renewal preferences into the future ILS.

Database Indexing.
This topic, initially quite specific to a single faculty who requested assistance indexing data from a five-year research project, served to underline the library’s efforts to expand its role as a resource for faculty and others as they carry out research projects. Currently the library receives and catalogues the published final results of research projects. At the present time the library offers assistance on an ad hoc basis, but once a policy and resources are in place, it can begin to promote itself as a place to go for technical assistance.

Agenda Items for Next Year.
Items for discussion by next year’s ULC will include the following:

strategy on fee-based accountability
policy files for integrated library system

It was agreed that next year’s ULC should include faculty with expertise in the areas slated for discussion, as well as more faculty representatives from the Sciences.

Matthew Bailey, chair