Future of UCBerkeley Libraries

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UCB – Future Discussion 2010

  1. 1 – Reference

There was general discussion of current reference models and new models that are being used or piloted.

• Reference statistics are down for most units resulting in cuts to staffing and hours of service. • It is valuable for reference staff to be visible in the library to offer assistance, when needed. • Tiered reference service is being considered, with trained students as first point of contact. • Combine reference and circulation desks. • In surveys, patrons comment that they like being able to talk face to face to someone. • Many libraries are scheduling reference by appointment and using online signups as a way to promote the service. • Many units answer reference questions via e-mail. • IM chat reference is being used and is especially effective with dispersed clientele Some libraries are texting and using meebo chat. • UCB is experimenting with 24/7 chat reference using OCLC Question point software. o Questions run the gamut from directional to substantive. o Many questions are answered using online resources. o The differences between online chat and in person include: lack of visual cues; requires more follow-up than in-person reference; questions are more time intensive. There are questions about how to handle non-UC questions but librarians think this is an important service to provide. There was some concern whether this might lead to off-shoring reference services.

  1. 2 – Scholarly Communication / Information Providers

We changed the discussion from Information Providers to Scholarly Communication.

• Our role is to support faculty and share information with them about alternative publishing options available to them.

• In this survey, faculty respondents stated that having peers in their discipline read their articles was their most important consideration when deciding where to publish. The least important factor is whether the article is open source. Educate scholars to understand that open access is peer reviewed.

• One member of our breakout session cited the recent Ithaka Faculty Survey 2009 (http://www.ithaka.org/ithaka-s-r/research/faculty-surveys-2000-2009/Faculty%20Study%202009.pdf).

• Reference was made to John Lewis, UL at Indiana University, who writes, “More precisely, libraries are the mechanism for providing the subsidy that is required if information is to be used efficiently in communities and organizations.” Within an online environment, perhaps it is time to transform this economic model. Lewis makes provocative statements in this article “A Strategy for Academic Libraries in the First Quarter of the 21^st Century” C&RL News, September 2007 (http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/publications/crljournal/2007/sep/Lewis07.pdf).

• Changing the scholarly communication landscape is difficult because of the existing academic culture. Can the model be changed? Should librarians work with younger or older faculty to try and change the model? Or best to work with administrators who control budgets and make decisions about what online journals to purchase/not purchase/or cancel.

• eScholarship has not had much uptake from faculty.

• eScholarship is useful as contents surface in Google searches.

• Open Access is not “free” as there are costs to maintaining the infrastructure and for personnel who maintain online repositories. Is this a sustainable model?

• Some in-roads have been made in Open Access. The NIH Mandate requires all recipients of NIH funding to submit an electronic version of their final, peer reviewed manuscript to PubMed Central. Anyone with NIH funding knows about Open Access and that publishing research in traditional journals creates a barrier to accessing their information.

• A discussion about textbook affordability is starting. Perhaps this will get attention from the publishing industry.

  1. 3 – Library Personnel

• When hiring library personnel there are many things to consider: Make sure the job description is well written and includes core elements of the job and details what skills are required versus desired for the job. Consider what training will be required once employee is hired.

• Student employees and Library Assistants are very important to the Library. They work late shifts and do high-level technical processing work. However, librarians with and MLS or MLIS should continue to be valued because they bring special skills to the job. Succession planning is missing from current hiring scenarios.

• Concerns were expressed about providing the same level of service with fewer people. If funding for collections is protected, public services may have to be cut.

• Librarians provide vital services to our users not only in collecting research materials but also at reference desks, in classrooms and in other ways.


  1. 4 – Technology

• Are we leveraging technology? We need to be more cutting edge. Need to make decisions faster. Berkeley was a leader in the 90’s – how did this change? So much happens off campus now (e.g., CDL). Fracturing of technical support offices makes the system confusing, hard to navigate and slows innovation.

• Some changes have been made by going against the advice of IST because what the library wanted to do wasn’t supported, e.g., metasearching/federated searching.

• Affiliated libraries can experiment with new technology more easily as they can adopt new technologies quickly.

• It is important to give staff the time to use new products and technologies to raise their awareness of resources and help evaluate them.

• Create a dedicated position to proactively seek out new technologies as the current model is too slow and reactive.

• Establish a Library Office of Technology or charge a library committee to explore and foster use of new technologies. The current Library Systems Office is focused on keeping existing systems working.

• Change university bureaucracy so that a Digital Initiatives Department or Committee reports directly to university president.

• This Department or Committee can direct IT, Libraries, teaching/learning, Academic Senate, etc. and have them working as a functional group.

• This Department or Committee can be situated in the library and would be a powerful way to integrate the Library with campus priorities.

• Need a librarian in the systems office to facilitate liaison with IST and Library Systems Office. • Looking towards the future - the students who will be here 5 years from now and they are comfortable using technology. We need to be just as flexible, adaptive and curious as they are with technologies and change.

• It is still difficult/expensive to do video conferencing from this campus. It saves money but there seems to be resistance to making this easier. Investigate ways to videoconference and push WebPages more easily: use Skype, etc. or iChat to run remote discussion for distance learning.

• Technology for technology's sake? Technology is a tool to help us get where we want to go. It is important for librarians to determine for themselves where to go based on our goals & mission (quality, authority, etc.) rather than embracing technology for its own sake.

• Technology changes so quickly. We can't let it guide us blindly, but librarians should use technology to support core values: support teaching, learning, research. Focus on technology that can add value.

• Open Government Initiatives is coming (datasets, etc., from all federally funded research must be uploaded) Libraries can contribute by creating standards for data structure for access across different possible future platforms.

• Should libraries lend EBook readers? Students want to be able to highlight, take notes, use easily and this does not work with borrowed Ebooks.

• Letting patrons lead the way Users want applications that work on mobile devices, i. e. SFSU mode.

• Some libraries have created video tutorials. Do students use them?

• Think outside the box. Rigid controls feel better, but may not be able to keep up with pace of change.

• We can't reinvent Google, but we can improve on it. Use Google as model and experiment with new technologies.

• Will future students continue to use Local Worldcat?

• Can we reclaim control over technical initiatives fro CDL? CDL is great for managing shared collections, negotiating contracts, and similar functions – but centralizing of technology slows down innovation.

• Sometimes a top-down model is needed to force and encourage change, i.e. Duke model

  1. 5 – Collections

• There are changes afoot that may affect how collections are cataloged and managed in the future. The recent CDC report "University of California Library Collection: Content for the 21st Century and Beyond" maps out changes in library roles without mentioning the word librarian but rather using "library staff" and "curatorial role."

• Next Generation Technical Services groups are changing the way we manage collections. The "CDL Shared Print Steering Task Force Findings and Recommendations Report to CDC" is an attempt to find ways to make similar changes to how UC collects materials and take current collaborative projects to new levels. This may require campuses to change their idea of “ownership.”

• Another viewpoint is that UC librarians have worked out many cooperative agreements in the UC system, with Stanford and other research libraries, and this report might make honoring the terms of those agreements difficult or impossible. These agreements define collection areas for sharing acquisition and processing. Use the RLFs to share material throughout the UC system.

• Ownership of materials has been important historically especially in determining ARL rankings and in attracting top faculty and graduate students. Shared ownership might not be as problematic for the sciences and health fields since so much is online, although copyright and lending are issues. Digitization is important and leads to crucial questions of sustainability and preservation.

• Cancellations lead to other issues since campuses cancel the paper and rely on CDL licenses for digital access only to have access to the digital copy cancelled. For example, one paper journal was held by 5 campuses, all of which canceled when the CDL subscribed to the online version. Now no UC library has the journal. The paper journal was cheap but necessary; the e-journal was expensive and had low usage. This pattern is not unusual in the humanities. UC needs more coordination between CDL cancellations and campus cancellations and between bibliographer priorities and what CDL licenses.

• Preservation is a key issue. Many research libraries, including those in UC, are canceling foreign newspapers and relying on digital versions. What will happen in 100 years when scholars will have to travel to other countries to see these newspapers? What if the local country has not preserved them or a disaster has destroyed them? Digitized newspapers often do not contain all the content, such as ads and editorials. We are increasingly relying on the digital without a (secure) backup. • Key to collections is coping with current problems in funding, preservation, etc. while still striving to keep in mind the needs of future scholars. We must consider what they will need in the years to come and how to deliver it. Librarians must decide whether to maintain historical strengths or concentrate on current needs. This can be especially difficult as budgets shrink.

• UCLA and UCB have long been the campus of last resort for expensive research material. We must address the questions of how much duplication is too much and how catalogs serve as discovery tools. For decades UC has encouraged the acquisition of duplicate materials. Each campus has an engineering program, necessitating an engineering collection. Should the system cut programs to save money or look at sharing more print materials? Campus planning needs to consider library funding when adding new programs; the library should be at the table when these decisions are made. Departments/schools should involve the library when hiring faculty as their research needs may not be met by the existing areas of collection, and they should be encouraged to make collection funding part of their start up funding. Librarians must be aware of shifts in departmental programs and faculty research.

• Library funding brings quality collections; quality collections attract the best faculty and students. As State support for UCB decreases, so will the number of Nobel prizes and the ability to retain the best faculty will wither. At what point will the public notice?

• Archivists live with the reality that not every item can be cataloged and that rapid digitization, such as done by Google, is not possible with their fragile and unique materials. Creating metadata is costly. Standards change rapidly, and turnover of personnel is a factor in deterring priorities. Large digital collections, which draw from many places, can be frustrating because the collection managers massage interfaces/metadata to funnel material from different libraries into one collection. Archival units are making fundraising arrangements with donors before accepting their papers.

• Library silos are problematic; users must have a way to discover material and rapid interlibrary loan to obtain quickly.

  1. 6 – Library Buildings and Space

• Libraries fill space needs that are desirable for students, faculty and other patrons: group study, quiet study, presentation rooms, instruction rooms, wireless internet, wireless printing, copying, printing, scanning, computer software on library pc’s, include a café, allow food, longer hours.

• When departments want to re-purpose library space for teaching or academic purposes, be clear about the impact on students. Work with the departments to create tradeoffs that will benefit the library. Present your case to library committees, donors, and supporters who have an interest.

• Look forward and be prepared – as print collections change to electronic, down size, or move to storage, have a plan and be ready to repurpose exiting space in older buildings.

• Look for opportunities to upgrade facilities, improve furniture and work areas, keep the environment fresh.

  1. 7 - Technical Services

• Next Gen Melvyl needs improvement from both technical services and public services perspective. Some suggestions include a cleaner screen display; ability to limit by campus which would facilitate book selection; the inclusion of articles in search results; and improved advanced search capability.

• LAUC should play a role in providing feedback on NextGen Melyvl as this catalog is an essential tool. How could feedback be provided?

• Discussion ensued about local needs vs. a centralized technical services department. There are times when a branch librarian has the subject knowledge to know when a book will be looked for under a certain subject or local place name. There currently is no way to work with Technical Services to handle special requests like this in a timely way.

• Another issue is backlogs in specific areas, i.e. dissertations. Is there a way to use the abstract which is available electronically in California Hall to automatically create a catalog record? This seems like a great idea, but of course, do technical Services have the staffing to be able to figure out how to do something like this. There is also the question of social tagging, which apparently is being done at Penn State. Again, this would require a capacity that Oskicat may or may not have, plus the staffing to develop and maintain it.

• If one campus hired a cataloger with expertise in a specific area, all books ordered by UC would be delivered to her/him for cataloging and then shipped off to the ordering campus. Could selection, ordering and cataloging be handled in this manner and result in cost savings?