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University of Texas Libraries Committee
The faculty committee met three times in fall 2008 and twice in spring 2009. A key component of all meetings was the bi-directional exchange of information between the UT Libraries' administrative staff and faculty members. In addition, over the course of several meetings the administrative staff explained the distribution of the budget and described the University’s efforts to cope with the continuously escalating cost of research collections.
A key initiative of the UT Libraries is the University of Texas Digital Repository (UTDR), a new digital storage-and-retrieval system that can be used by University faculty and administration to store, catalog and preserve digital information. As an example, in the future, UT Austin dissertations will be “published” by submitting them to this digital repository. The repository has been in development for several years, and it is now “live” at http://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/. The library staff presented the system to the computer sciences department staff, both to make faculty aware of this initiative and to get feedback on the computer science aspects of such a system. We hope this initiative continues to grow.
Faculty at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard have instituted policies that require the posting of the author’s final version of a scholarly article in the institution’s local digital repository. These articles will then be made freely available over the web and will be findable through Google and other search engines. Both MIT and Harvard use DSpace as their repository platform and are currently developing procedures by which these articles will be deposited and made available to the world via their local DSpace implementations The library’s UT Digital Repository is also based on DSpace and can be used for similar purposes. The committee noted the benefits of a local repository for preservation and access, along with concerns about issues such as publisher restrictions, impact on small non-profit publishers, and faculty workloads, and encouraged the libraries to stay abreast of the evolving discussion.
Other key initiatives involve continued development of library collections and ongoing work to adapt library facilities to the changing needs of student researchers. Library committee meetings were held in several branch libraries to familiarize committee members with the varied aspects of libraries collections and facilities. At the Fine Arts Library, for example, committee members learned about the tremendous breadth and depth of UT’s media collection and the University’s ability to record and store all types of audio/visual material. In addition, the library staff explained some of their projects to preserve receding languages and war-crime trials through digital archives. Librarians for the Benson Latin American Collection exhibited some of the unique materials that make the Benson Collection an international destination for researchers and described the myriad ways in which the collection facilitates research on Latin America at the University and around the world.
The UT Textbook Advisory Committee (TAC) is chaired by Provost Steven Leslie and Vice President Kevin Hegarty. TAC is looking into ways to alleviate the increasing cost of course materials for students. In addition to the e-book initiative that the University is piloting this spring as well as a new centralized booklist system, Keshav Rajagopalan (2008-09 Student Government president) has begun a dialogue with the faculty about the increasing cost of course materials so that they are more cognizant of the issue. Legislation proposed during the last Texas State Legislative session may inhibit teaching effectiveness. Some of this legislation called for a mandatory three-year use period for books, or even worse, a state-wide book for certain courses. Mr. Rajagopalan is hoping that UT as an institution, can be proactive in stemming the increasing cost of course materials and prevent restrictive legislation from gaining ground.
Faculty members are very impressed with the UT Library management and staff. In every meeting, the staff showed an in-depth understanding of the library and its critical function to the University. The library touches every faculty member’s life in one way or another. We believe the UT Library System should enjoy the full support of the administration as its attempts to offer first-tier service with declining (in constant dollars) revenue.
Warren A. Hunt, Jr., chair