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
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
||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
||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
|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
Planning for growth
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
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.
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.
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.
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