In May 2005 the departments of Atmospheric Sciences, Geology, and Geography presented a proposal to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to form a School of Earth, Society, and Environment. The rationale for the proposal was that by forging an alliance of the three departments a “stronger, more visible unit” would be created on campus in order to “ provide a clear focus for environment-related studies in LAS.” (p. 4 of proposal) At the time of the writing of this report, the three departments concerned have voted affirmatively to proceed with the proposal, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is at the cusp of giving formal approval to it.
At about the same time that the proposal for the school was being formalized, Steve Marshak, Head of the Department of Geology, contacted the Library in order to pursue the possibility of consolidating the three libraries that serve the three departments: the Map and Geography Library, located in the Main Library Building; the Geology Library, located in the Natural History Building (and proposed site of the Schools three departments), and the Atmospheric Sciences Library, located in the Atmospheric Sciences Building and the only one of the three not part of the University Library system. The Atmospheric Sciences Library had been established by the department in order to serve the more specialized needs of the faculty and graduate students.
After this initial contact by Professor Marshak, the heads of the two university libraries in question (Jenny Marie Johnson of the Map and Geography and Lura Joseph of the Geology Library) and the Head of the Grainger Engineering Library (Bill Mischo), which also services the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, met to decide what next steps to take. Over the next several weeks these librarians generated data on duplication among the libraries and did other preliminary work on comparing collection scope, etc. Lura Joseph, Jeff Schrader (Library Facilities), and Bob Burger (AUL for Services) met and toured the recently vacated museum space in the Natural History Building. Burger also subsequently met with Steve Marchak and the Associate Head of the Geology Department, Albert Liu.
In order to get a broader perspective on the problem, the Library engaged Isabel Stirling, of the University of California at Berkeley library, as a consultant to evaluate what the scope of the problem and to make suggestions for steps that should be taken to provide library service to the newly formed School. Stirling visited the campus in June 2005 and submitted a report in July 2005. Based on her recommendations, the Library Executive Committee formed a task force with the following charge:
Charge to the Task Force to Develop Services to the new School of Earth, Society, and Environment.
The Task Force reviewed the consultant’s report and as a response to item 2 of the charge began to collect data regarding the three collections. (see II, below).
After a couple of meetings the Task Force then met with the affected department heads. At the meeting only Steve Marshak of Geology and Don Weubles of Atmospheric Sciences could attend. Nonetheless, the meeting was a good opportunity for all concerned to get a better idea of the issues involved and the projected timeline. At this meeting, all the participants recognized that it would be premature to plan any physical configuration of the future consolidated library, primarily because it was not yet known in which specific space it would reside. There had been discussion about placing it in the former Natural History Museum space (3 rd floor of the Natural History Building) with additional space on the fourth floor, but the process of forming the new school and its real estate is not sufficiently developed at this time to make any plans for a physical library.
II. Data Gathering and Analysis of Data by the Task Force
During the course of its existence the Task Force members gathered various kinds of comparative data, including:
In addition, the members of the Task Force collected information from websites and informal surveys of comparisons among peers about:
These data are enclosed with this report as an appendix.
III. Recommendations of the Task Force
The School is not expected to begin operations as an administrative entity until the Summer of 2007. Therefore the Task Force’s recommendations are focused on the short term with suggestions about how to proceed once a site has been chosen for the consolidated library service point.
A. Short term
A subcommittee of the Task Force has developed a virtual School of Earth, Society, and Environment web site. (www.library.uiuc.edu/das/ESEVirtualLibraryQuick.html)
The purpose of this site is to bring together information relating to the disciplines taught by departments that are members of the School and to begin to form an online identity of the School. The website will be vetted with the departments involved and feedback will be funneled through the three departmental librarians involved (Johnson, Joseph, and Mischo).
B. Medium term
Both the new School and the Library should be involved from the outset in any planning for a new library space. Towards this end, the Task Force recommends:
1. that as soon as any thought is given to determining a space for the consolidated library, the School contact the Library so that the Library’s concerns can be aired with regard to:
a. space and accommodations for library users
b. space for collections
c. space for staff
d. instructional space
2. that the University Librarian and the Library Director of Facilities be primary contact persons for this joint venture;
3. that several different scenarios be considered, which recognize the various constraints regarding patron use, collections and staff;
4. that the heads of the academic departments involved remain in close communications with their respective librarians concerning plans for library space, needs of users, and other pertinent matters.
C. Long term (Once a physical location has been chosen for the consolidated library service point)
A new task force should review the documents and data collected as a result of the work of this task force and make appropriate recommendations based on the physical space available, the needs of the departments involved, and the resources available to achieve these goals.
Task Force members
Bob Burger (chair)
Jenny Marie Johnson