University Library Committee

Ask a Librarian

December 7, 2005

Present:  Althen, Braithwaite, Calcese, Frazier, Lundin, Mason, Milner, Mohammed, Nelson, Potter, Roper

Others:  Burton, Carr, Gilbertson, Gottlieb, Helman, Kruse, Owens, Reeb, Van Gemert

1.  Announcements

Ed Van Gemert
Discussion about consolidating the six Interlibrary Loan (ILL)/Document Delivery shops in UW libraries continues.  It is hoped that consolidation will improve service and reduce expenses.  ILL borrowing has increased significantly: Memorial library has shown a 22% increase in the past year. 

Library administrators, in conjunction with the Wisconsin Historical Society, will present plans for a proposed preservation/storage facility at the January 19, 2006 meeting of the Campus Planning Committee.  The proposed facility would provide 20,000 sq. ft. for storage, 5000 sq. ft. for preservation, and 5000 sq. ft. for processing. 

Work on a new libraries web site (LWS) continues, with Van Gemert and Helman co-chairing a committee to coordinate the re-design.   Recently, the committee contracted with Les Howles from the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) to consult on the design of the new site.  Usability testing begins soon and a summer roll-out of the new LWS is anticipated.

2.  Reports from library directors

Terry Burton (Ebling Library)
A Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant will support 24/7 electronic reference service through Wisconsin public libraries.  Ebling Library will be the backup for health-related questions.

Jo Ann Car (Center for Instructional Materials and Computing (CIMC))
The CIMC has a received a donation of seven pieces of art by Ellsworth Snyder.  The General Library System (GLS) will collaborate with CIMC in framing the art works.

The CIMC will see a large reduction in its capital budget due to the tuition remission issue.  The Tuition Remission Task Force defines the problem as a revenue gap between the University's tuition revenue target and actual tuition collections, exacerbated by a growing number of graduate assistants and the growth in tuition rates.

3.  Discussion of the collection budget crisis faced by libraries in the next biennium

Frazier summarized the collection budget situation faced by UW-Madison libraries.  Although the campus has lost little of its research competitiveness thus far, the collection budget is in crisis.  We have had a flat collection budget over the past few years and no additional funds are anticipated for the 2nd year of the current biennium.  If no increase in collection funding occurs in the next biennium, there will be a large impact on the university's competitiveness.  Research, libraries and the ability to attract graduate students are intertwined.  If our libraries cannot support research programs, graduate students may opt for other universities that offer better support.  Although the crisis has been most acute in the sciences, it is spreading to other programs such as area studies.

Frazier cited several statistics to highlight the collection budget crisis: 

  1. The recently-released FY05 Association of Research Libraries (ARL) statistics reveal that UW has fallen out of the top 10 of public universities in terms of funding for collections.
  2. UW Libraries now rank between 35 and 65 compared to our peer institutions. 
  3. We have fallen into the bottom quartile of CIC schools.  Only Michigan State and Purdue have smaller budgets and both institutions are more narrowly focused than UW-Madison.  
  4. For the first time in history, the University of Minnesota ranks above UW in terms of funding for library facilities, library salaries, and library collections. 
  5. We have reached the point where we often are unable to participate in cooperative buying both within UW System and with other schools within the CIC.

Discussion ensued.

Potter:  How is library funding tied to overhead funding?
Frazier:  There is no direct relationship between growth in overhead funds and growth in acquisitions funding.
Braithwaite:  Occasionally, there have been one-time allocations to the collection budget.

Roper:  How do the Regents fit into the picture?
Frazier:  They have been supportive and appreciative of libraries.  They supported an increase for library acquisitions in the current biennial budget, but it didn't go anywhere.
Roper:  Libraries might want to seek the support of the Public Representation Organization of the Faculty Senate (PROFS).

Nelson:  How did Minnesota make a case for increased funding?
Frazier:  Prominent alumni advocated for the University by tying the economy of the state to the maintenance of an excellent university.  Also, the state of Minnesota may be in better economic shape than Wisconsin.

Milner:  There is a paradox in that, despite the limitations of our collection budget, we continue to have an impressive library and excellent library services.  How do we explain that paradox to the legislature?

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