University Library Committee

Ask a Librarian

November 5, 2003

Present: Baughman, Breckenridge, Buckett, Hellstrom, Kleinhenz, Lundin, Roper, Zimmerman

Ex Officio: Frazier, Braithwaite

Others: Carr, Gilbertson, Kruse, Mulvey, Murray, Null, Owens, Reeb, Schneider, Van Gemert, Weinhold

1. Introductions and Announcements

Ken Frazier passed out copies of, “Notes from the Stone-Paved Path: Meditations on North India”, an exhibit catalog for the Department of Special Collections Memorial Library, UW-Madison.

Baughman asked how the Friends Book Sale went. Frazier reported that the sale raised $23,000, which is the second highest income in the history of the Friends book sales. Frazier also noted that the yearly income from the sales (upwards of $50,000) is distributed in grants to all campus libraries.

No additional announcements.

2. Recent developments in negotiations with commercial journal publishers (Frazier)

Frazier distributed a copy of an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, “A New World of Scholarly Communication”, by Richard C. Atkinson.

Frazier commented on current contract negotiations with Elsevier. Twenty major libraries are threatening to walk away from the talks, as the discussions are not going well. It looks like Harvard will choose not to sign a new contract. The University of California, which has an 8 million dollar contract with Elsevier, is determined to hold the line on increasing costs. If no agreement can be reached the U of C administration wants faculty to boycott Elsevier journals for future research publishing. Frazier was somewhat skeptical of the success of such a suggestion.

Adding 5% per year to the cost of a journal is beyond the means of most libraries to endure and ultimately the world has to change.

Frazier also passed out copies of a summary analysis of cancellations by library on the UW campus.

3. Reports from campus library directors

Julie Schneider (for Terry Burton--Health Sciences Libraries):

Nothing to report.

Jean Gilbertson (Steenbock Library):

Nothing to report.

Carrie Kruse (College Library):

Kruse reports that assessment of 24-hour service at College Library continues. A survey will be targeting those students who use the library between the hours of 3 am and 7 am. In general things are going well with increased activity due to peak study times at this point in the semester.

Tom Murray (Wendt Library):

Murray wanted to report his concern that the deans of the College of Engineering may decide not to fill a position that's recently been vacated by retirement. He's worried that the ability to provide quality library service through instruction and reference might not turn out well if they choose not to recruit for this vacancy.

Ed Van Gemert (Public Services & Member Libraries):

Van Gemert reports that he will be meeting with representatives from the Astronomy and Physics departments and libraries to discuss the possible discontinuation of service at the Astronomy Library. He also suggested that the consolidation of services and collections might occur elsewhere on campus due to budget and staffing priorities.

Van Gemert also wanted to echo Murray's staffing concerns speculating that we might be approaching rock bottom for service and staffing flexibility.

Jo Ann Carr (CIMC):

The Bentley Collection of snow crystals from the Schwerdtfeger Library
will be featured in the winter issue of “On Wisconsin”.

In celebration of Wisconsin's Year of Water, the Water Resources Library is featuring Wisconsin's Water Library, a collection of 30,000 volumes of water-related titles. The items are available free for circulation to all Wisconsin citizens during the Year of Water.

Anna Lewis of CIMC has been chosen as one of ten individuals to participate in ALA's (LAMA), “Leaders of the Pack” mentoring program.

4. Impact of journal cancellations on Chemistry Library. (Frank Weinhold, Chair, Chemistry Library Committee)

Professor Weinhold began his discussion with comments on the Chemistry Department's five-year projection of journal use and the threatening crisis to the library. This crisis stems primarily from the continuing loss of titles due to journal cancellations. Weinhold asserts that the journal crisis can be sensed from use, the impact on the training of graduate students and the reaction of distinguished visitors and potential recruitments when they look at the Chemistry Library shelves and do not see the core titles they would expect to find. It is impossible to think about first class departments without thinking of journals and publishing. He acknowledged and encourages alternate publishing efforts, but wants the focus to be on the real losses to the print library.

He addressed the GLS budget and what he described as flat dollar budgeting for research journals. By removing duplicate subscriptions and canceling titles to cover increases of 10-12 percent, Weinhold feels that the reality has been hidden. The yearly pattern to cancel establishes a “half-life” for the remaining journal collections and continues a systematic loss of resources. As an example and projection, he states that in the time it takes a faculty hire now to reach tenure, the library journal collection will be less than one-half the amount it was when they started.

The current situation and future is intolerable. What are possible solutions?
1. More state assistance.
2. Vigilante activities; user fees, garnishee research grants. (UW should reassess budgeting when overhead for grants are 45 percent. How can they be this low unless they are ignoring the library?)
3. Student computer fees.

Comments or Questions? (a general question and answer session ensued)

Frazier spoke to future prospects of money from the UW administration via the state budget. There is current work on a DIN (Decision Item Narrative) as part of the UW's budget proposal for new money. There have been very few successful DIN's and this proposal seems likely to fail in light of the state budget situation.

Are there other strategies? Frazier suggested fund raising as well as working more closely with the UW Foundation to increase gifts and endowments. There's also potential of working with other campus departments, athletics, for instance was mentioned as a possible ally for the GLS.

Murray commented that he was more pessimistic about the entire situation as it concerns journals and publishing. Even with an increase of 1-3 percent, that does not change the “half-life” when publisher's keep pushing 10-12 percent increases every year. What needs changing is scholarly publishing. Open URL, Public Library of Science for example.

Weinhold stated that the Chemistry Department Head, John Wright, has communicated the library journal crisis and faculty concerns on to the UW administration. In reply Frazier again mentioned the summary request for the UW budget collections increase, which he needs to have completed by December 1. He emphasized that this is the time to communicate a message to campus administration from all campus library committees in support of increased library funding.

Roper asked several questions related to the federal grant monies and supplemental funding of libraries. He wanted to know specifically if the UW administration would raise the formula for grant overheads to allow for supplemental library support?

Gilbertson wanted to know if the UW really had a low overhead in comparison with others? After some discussion it appeared that there might be a wide range in overheads varying from institution to institution.

Van Gemert informed the group that UW Superior now has student user fees. Additional comments from Frazier pointed out that many southern universities fund their libraries entirely by student fees.

Gilbertson wanted to know if we could pursue support from the corporate sector? Some campus libraries have close working relationships with corporate users. Additional support for the libraries from these corporate users might be worth investigating.

5. High speed article delivery—pilot projects in science libraries (Frazier & Murray)

Frazier began the discussion with an indication that article delivery, while not a solution to the cancellation issue, was one way to mitigate against loss of print. It is the intent of GLS to implement a high-speed article delivery program (within one business day). Libraries on campus will mediate this service. Four libraries will begin pilot projects of this service: Biology, Geology, Chemistry and Physics. (Health Sciences Library and Wisconsin TechSearch have their own rush services). It is intended that this project create a model for campus. In relation to the pilot program Frazier asked Murray to talk about Wisconsin TechSearch.

Murray spoke about Wisconsin TechSearch and its 40-year history of outreach for the School of Engineering. He noted that the staff of Wisconsin TechSearch generates their own salaries and handle over 50,000 requests every year. When necessary they will go to the publisher, the British Library, Linda Hall Library and CISTI (Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information).

Murray also wanted to mention that his desire is to build high-speed article delivery into Library Express at some point in the future. Until then he encourages the use of Wisconsin TechSearch. Faculty, graduate students, academic staff and undergraduates, “anyone with a research need” can be served.

Question from Van Gemert on where the mediation will be occurring? Where will the questions come from? Can we try offering service through email or phone calls?

Question from Roper on fees. Frazier answered that there will be no fees while in pilot status. It is a part of the process that would only complicate getting the appropriate mechanisms in place.

6. Future agenda items (All)

Frazier suggested that we focus on undergraduate services and perhaps have the next meeting at College Library.

7. ULC schedule

Next meeting of ULC: 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, December 3, at College Library (tentative).

8. Other business

No other business was stated.

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