MAIN LIBRARY HUMANITIES HUB PLANNING TEAM REPORT, DECEMBER 2012; revised version, submitted April 2013
The Main Library Humanities Hub Planning Team was formally established by the University Library’s Executive Committee in early August 2012. It was given a multi-point charge, which appears at Appendix 2 to this report. The Team looked at each of the eight “action-point” elements of the charge individually, and this report is structured charge by charge. Some elements of the charge fall under space utilization (nos 3 and 4), others under services (principally no 2), and others under administration (nos 5-8). The Team was energized by the prospect of really being able to achieve something bold and long-lasting for the Humanities through its report: a scenario in which the Main Library will ultimately become a Humanities and Social Science Library, including the libraries currently on its 1st and 3rd floors, the IPRH, digital humanities spaces, and incorporating Government Documents, is exciting, desirable, and, we believe, achievable. Such a scenario will clearly bring economies of scale in terms of library operations, and will open up new opportunities for service provision.
The Team’s discussions benefited from its broad membership, listed in appendix 4 to this report. In addition, we received input from the following: their expert contributions are very much appreciated.
Due partly to our comparatively short timetable we did not undertake a survey of humanities libraries users as some previous NSM planning teams have done.
The Team held meetings on the following dates, with each meeting lasting about an hour:
A further meeting was held on February 6, 2013, to discuss changes to the original report based on feedback from the library’s Executive Committee.
The Team’s discussions focused on coming up with both a long-term and a short-term plan for a Main Library Humanities Hub, due to the fact that room 220, currently occupied by Content Access Management, will become available within the next two years and is likely to be critical to the development of a logical assembly of humanities collections on the 2nd floor of the Main Library. (The importance of room 220 to the plan is recognized in the “Background” opening paragraph to the Team’s charge, and the Team recommends the transfer of the Classics Library to Room 220 from its current space on 4th floor of Main Library as among its highest priorities.) We have tried in this report to deal with integration of humanities at both the service and collection levels. The short-term goals set out below are intended to be carried out in the two years prior to room 220 becoming available, and they have the advantage that even if room 220 ends up being used by the Library for some other purpose, they will remain valid and useful. Our suggestions for goals to be achieved within the next two years are as follows:
It should also be noted, in conjunction with point 1 above, that it may also be desirable to move some material that currently in Main Stacks out again into a reading room – one Team member particularly mentioned Medieval Studies material in this context.
Four further points should be emphasized before launching into the major part of the report. These are:
A point-by-point examination of the Team’s charge, with recommendations
Charge no. 1. Engage in conversations with relevant campus communities and Library advisory groups…to inform all aspects of planning for the new unit
As already noted, the Team, or individual members of it, did meet with several experts. We were not able to consult with all potentially interested parties, which would have comprised a vast number of individuals and groups. However, the two-year “window” before room 220 becomes available will enable a Main Library Humanities Hub Implementation Team to consult more widely if it feels it appropriate (the Planning Team feel this would be useful). Specific groups that the Planning Team believes should be consulted include the following:
2. Working toward the goal of creating a second floor Humanities Hub, articulate a service profile that supports the expanded focus on-campus and nationally on digital humanities [etc.]
Sarah Shreeves (for Scholarly Commons) and Harriett Green (for Digital Humanities) made short presentations, and led discussions, about their respective areas at the Team’s meeting of October 17, and of course the Team continued to keep these matters in mind at its later meetings. There clearly is a growing demand for both Scholarly Commons and Digital Humanities services on campus, with Harriett, for example, reporting that a very successful Digital Humanities symposium this semester had attracted around 40 people. It is clearly important that both Scholarly Commons and Digital Humanities be part of a humanities hub “vision,” and this is reflected in the fact that, when drafting a position request for a Classics Librarian (submitted for consideration by the library’s Executive Committee in November 2012 and reproduced at Appendix 3), the request specifically listed “to contribute to the Library’s digital humanities and other technological initiatives” among the job duties. It is unrealistic in the medium to long term to expect just one member of library faculty (Harriett) to cater for all future digital humanities needs.
Additional staffing and technology resources are likely to be a requirement for the Scholarly Commons as well. Although the Team’s original view was that, due to its wider, “all-library” brief, the Scholarly Commons may be better retained in its current accommodation on the library’s 3rd floor so as to avoid the appearance of belonging to one constituency or another, there may also be a point to having a Scholarly Commons “outpost” embedded within the proposed Humanities Hub. This portion of the charge also mentions connections between the Humanities Hub and the current History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library. In a meeting on November 12, 2012 with Marek Sroka and John Wagstaff, Professor Diane Koenker did note that history as an academic discipline is currently tending to move its focus away from the social sciences in favor of the humanities. This clearly means that it would be appropriate, from a discipline-specific perspective, to try to include HPNL in any future “Humanities Library” model. Partly with this in mind, the Team gave some attention to a proposal that the offices on the 2nd floor of Main Library between HPNL and room 220 could be usefully repurposed from their current use as offices for the library administration, and converted into multi-use space for humanities librarians and patrons – for offices for librarians of the various humanities units on the one hand, and for collaborative study spaces and a seminar room for library patrons on the other, perhaps also with a dedicated “digital humanities” space. Furthermore, it is felt that having these spaces may well help in fulfilling the Information Literacy portion of the Team’s charge (the final part of charge no. 2) by providing areas for meetings with small classes and seminars. While the Team recognizes that this would displace library administration to another space in Main Library (4th floor, perhaps?), and did not have time to discuss an exact configuration and layout for humanities library purposes, we recommend that this proposal be given serious consideration over the next two years, and subsequently if appropriate by the Implementation Team.
Finally, point 2 of the charge also notes the importance of continuing or deepening the provision of on-demand reference through the Main/UGL Reference Hub. Nothing in the Team’s recommendations speaks against this idea, and the team recognizes that the location of the current 2nd floor Information Desk is well located for providing on-demand assistance for students and faculty working with material in the Main Stacks as well as in 220, 225 and the Reference Reading Room. Mark Wardecker (Acting Librarian for Classics) currently splits his time between Classics and Reference, Research and Scholarly Services; and continuing responsibilities for library-wide reference and research support services have been included in the list of duties for the Classics Librarian position submitted in November 2012 (see Appendix 3).
3. Explore ways to array collections, services, and staff offices within a footprint that includes 225, 200 and 220 library [etc.]
There is unanimous agreement among the Team that Classics should be moved from the 4th floor and located in direct proximity to the other humanities collection on the 2nd floor. The simplest way to achieve this is to relocate Classics to room 220. The current square footage allocated to Classics, using figures supplied to the Team by Jeff Schrader on October 10, 2012, is 2,375 ft2 in room 419A (the main Classics reading room), plus a total of 900 ft2 for the three rooms across the corridor from 419A, making a grand total of around 3,200 ft2. The total square footage of room 220, including the space formerly occupied by the library’s Billing Office, is 5,248. (Room 200, incidentally, occupies 13,466 ft2.) Therefore, in terms of raw numbers, room 220 is approximately 2,000 ft2 larger than the whole of the space currently occupied by Classics, including the three corridor rooms. However, it needs to be kept in mind that there is effectively no staff workspace in the current Classics Library, so some will need to be created in room 220, plus – potentially – office space for the Classics Librarian, either in room 220 or in one of the offices between 220 and HPNL. Nevertheless, it would be disappointing (to say the least) if, in spite of the extra square footage made available by a move to room 220, the amount of shelving available in the current Classics configuration on the 4th floor had to be reduced. We strongly recommend that further detailed work be carried out – especially in regard to requirements pertaining to today’s building codes -- on how much shelving will be available in room 220 before moving ahead with plans for an actual move.
Other relevant figures here are:
The Team extensively discussed the best use of room 200, especially in the context of making it a space in which humanities reference materials could be brought together, maybe with journals too. During its initial discussions, however, the Team was working under the assumption that room 200, which has seen greatly increased headcounts since its recent reorganization, should retain its predominant function as a grand reading room space. Thus the issue should be the subject of further discussions before a final decision can be made. As a result of extensive weeding and de-duplication of all departmental library collections prior to the opening of the Literatures and Languages Library in 2011, over a third of the reference material currently in room 200 is Literatures and Languages materials, in addition to the Literatures and Languages journals and newspapers located in the south end of Room 200 immediately adjacent to the Literatures and Languages Library. Taken together, Literatures and Languages materials comprise the largest collection of material in 200. The remainder of the material is comprised of a general reference collection, of which the bulk is dictionaries and bibliographic works that are in keeping with a humanities-focused reference collection; Library & Information Science reference materials; a few shelves of Business materials; and Government Documents Reference. Government Documents reference materials is currently the next largest collection (after Literatures and Languages) in 200. A significant portion of the government documents material is microforms. Preliminary conversations with the Government Information Coordinator suggests that there is interest in exploring the idea of relocating the government document microforms to be housed with the general microforms collection in the History Philosophy and Newspaper Library in order to enhance access by bringing these closer to the state of the art reader/scanners and also because the material is heavily used by historians. E-mail correspondence with Nancy O’Brien (SSHEL) and Steve Witt (IAS) indicates that these two libraries have very little reference material in room 200, so any such material that there could, if required, either be moved to those libraries, to Stacks, or Oak Street. Making 200 into a humanities-focused reference collection would complement the social sciences and health-focused reference collection on the first floor and the International and Area Studies collection on the 3rd floor. In any case, there is certainly space for the Classics reference materials in room 200 as it currently stands, and once CAM moves out of 220 and vacates 200 North there will be room for other collections (such as serials or other browsing collections) as well as additional user seating.
The Team notes the following as among the advantages of moving Classics from 4th to 2nd floors:
Given the current layout of room 220 there are several possibilities for where to site a main entrance to 2nd floor Classics. The final decision on this should be a matter for the Implementation Team.
It is clearly important that the integrity of the Classics collection not be compromised in any move from 4th to 2nd floors: on several occasions team members stressed the national and international significance of the collection, and the importance of making as much of it as possible easily accessible in one place. As one member of the Team has put it:
It may […] be worth reiterating that the Classics faculty […] are committed to maintaining the integrity of the current, internationally recognized Classics collection (with a few tweaks, perhaps). A move to LIB 220 would be terrific in terms of added space, greater proximity to the other libraries that would together form the new Humanities Hub, the possibility of a Digital Humanities and/or Scholarly Commons presence in some fashion, etc. But any move that ended up scattering the current collection over several libraries would, I think, be counter-productive from the point of view of the patrons who actually utilize it most.
4. Consider whether any other collections and services related to the humanities, in addition to those currently provided by Classics and Literatures & Languages, should be integrated into this footprint.
This point in the charge goes to the heart of how best to configure the 2nd floor to suitably accommodate humanities subjects. The obvious candidate for integration into what the Team has come to call the humanities “neighborhood” is the History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library, both because it is already located near related humanities subjects on 2nd floor and because there are clear disciplinary connections between it, Classics, and Literatures & Languages. However, before integration of HPNL in this way can become a reality, the concept will need to be further discussed with the History Faculty and other interested parties (while the talk with Professor Koenker reported earlier in this document was useful, it would clearly be advisable to meet with more History Faculty, and other stakeholders, before taking a decision on the matter, and Professor Koenker). The Team on several occasions discussed what “integration” should mean in the context of our charge: does it mean reclassifying materials in the “neighborhood” libraries so that they are all in Library of Congress classification? Does it imply eventually rearranging humanities materials into a single (print) sequence? Our view is that the first goal (of reclassification) is desirable – and we have given reasons for this earlier in this document -- but that the advantages of the second are not immediately obvious. Even if bibliographically it were possible, the physical architecture of the second floor would hinder organizing materials in a single sequence. On several occasions, different team members stressed the importance of being near the collections for which they are responsible, and for which they have the appropriate subject expertise. For this reason, it is appropriate at this point to state the Team’s recommendation that, at least in the short to medium term, the humanities collections that potentially will form the humanities “footprint” or “neighborhood” on 2nd floor of Main Library should remain in their current areas (or its “new” area of 220, in the case of Classics).
5. Develop a staffing model for the new unit, including recommendations for the administrative responsibilities for leadership of this and possibly other related units in the Main Library building.
On the assumption that Classics will move to room 220, it is clear that the different library units in the Main Library Humanities Hub (Classics and Literatures & Languages, maybe HPNL) will need to be able to work closely and cooperatively in regard to sharing staff resources and expertise. Currently there are three different unit heads in the proposed Hub, i.e. in Classics, in HPNL, and in Literatures & Languages. The Team recommends, at least in the short to medium term, that the Main Library Humanities Hub not move to a model in which there is a sole unit head for the whole Hub, but instead consider, for now, a model with a single unit Head for Classics and Literatures and Languages (as a three-year appointment) that would oversee staffing and administration, with the subject specialists in their respective areas continuing to focus on liaison responsibilities and collection development. At the end of the three years the situation should be reviewed, and consideration given to creating a single unit head position responsible for Classics, Literatures & Languages, and History.
Clearly it is important that, within a distributed model for humanities, the staff in the different components of the hub work efficiently together. It is suggested that the unit heads of the various components meet regularly to discuss issues of concern, share information and develop joint service and collections initiatives; and that there also be regular, “all-staff” Humanities Hub meetings in order that, over time, these individuals and units will be able to work more closely together. Although the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library was not specifically included in our Team’s charge, there is clearly good sense in having librarians and staff from that unit also participate in these regular meetings.
6. Draft a position description for a librarian whose duties include collection development and liaison responsibilities for Classics as well as related responsibilities.
This has already been done, and the description was sent to the library’s Executive Committee in November 2012. The position request includes responsibilities within digital humanities, plus reference support for the Main Library/UGL reference hub. However, it should be emphasized that the request submitted in November 2012 contained an intentionally rudimentary description: it will be more fully developed as plans evolve for the new service model.
7. Make proposals for the name of the unit
The Team discussed this matter at more than one of its meetings. Our initial intention was to recommend the name “Humanities Library” to cover the area proposed to be occupied by rooms 200, 220 (Classics) and 225. However, upon further discussion it was felt that, unless and until the libraries in this area of 2nd floor (perhaps also with HPNL) become more fully integrated, and because a true “Humanities Library” would encompass more than what it being proposed, it is more appropriate to recommend that, while it may be appropriate to informally refer to the different units on 2nd floor as “humanities libraries,” for now the different areas should formally retain their separate identities as the Classics Library, History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library, Literatures & Languages Library, and the Reference Reading Room. If the Library moves forward with the removal of non-humanities materials such as Government Documents from room 200, there might have been good sense in renaming room 200 the “Humanities Reference Room.”
8. Recommend a plan for the ongoing assessment of collections and services, focusing on impacts and outcomes and including metrics and other means of identifying whether the desired outcomes have been achieved.
A meeting between John Wagstaff (Team Chair) and Jen-Chien Yu (Library Assessment Coordinator) led to the following conclusions:
The Team therefore recommends that librarians involved with providing services and collections on 2nd floor of Main Library continue to work with Jen to come up with sensible assessment methods to inform the ongoing development of services and spaces that best support humanities research.
APPENDIX 1: SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS, with priorities attached
Recommendation 1: “Short Term” goals (p. 2-3)
Recommendation 2: The Team is unanimous in recommending the transfer of the Classics Library to Room 220 from its current space on 4th floor of Main Library (p. 2). However, we strongly recommend that further detailed work on how much shelving will be available in room 220 is carried out before moving ahead with plans for an actual move, and stakeholders, including academic faculty, will need to be fully consulted. (Priority 1)
Recommendation 3: The Team recommends that serious consideration be given to repurposing the library administration offices between room 220 and the HPNL as a multi-use study/seminar/office space over the next two years (p. 5), and to creating a central circulation desk for the 2nd floor libraries, probably in room 200 (p. 3-4). (Priority 2)
Recommendation 4: The Team recommends that, at least in the short to medium term, the humanities collections that potentially will form a single humanities unit on 2nd floor of Main Library should be brought into closer proximity to form a “neighborhood” by moving Classics to the 2nd floor (p. 6 (Priority 1)
Recommendation 5: The Team recommends, at least in the short to medium term, that the Main Library Humanities Hub not move to a model in which there is a sole unit head for the whole Hub, but instead consider a model with a single unit Head for Classics and Literatures and Languages (as a three-year appointment) that would oversee staffing and administration, with the subject specialist in their respective areas continuing to focus on liaison responsibilities and collection development. At the end of the three years, the situation should be reviewed, and consideration given to creating a single unit head position responsible for Classics, Literatures & Languages, and History (p. 9). (Priority 1)
Recommendation 6: The Team recommends that, while it may be appropriate to informally refer to the different units on 2nd floor as “humanities libraries”, for now the different areas should formally retain their separate identities as the Classics Library, History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library, Literatures & Languages Library, and Reference Reading Room for the time being (p. 10). (No prioritization required.)
Recommendation 7: The Team recommends that librarians involved with providing services and collections on 2nd floor of Main Library continue to work with Jen-Chien Yu to come up with sensible assessment methods to gauge the the impact and effectiveness of current and future models, as well as inform planning (p. 10). (Priority 1)
Main Library Humanities Hub Planning Team
In the next two years, Content Access Management (CAM) will be vacating 220 Library. The availability of this prime space located in a high-traffic area down the hall from both the History Philosophy and Newspaper Library and the entrance to Main Stacks, provides the opportunity to bring humanities-related collections and services currently dispersed throughout the Main Library together on the 2nd floor.
Submitted to the Executive Committee for consideration: August 2, 2012
Approved by the Executive Committee: August, 8 2012
APPENDIX 3: DRAFT POSITION REQUEST FOR CLASSICS LIBRARIAN POSITION, SUBMITTED TO THE LIBRARY’S EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE IN NOVEMBER 2012
FACULTY & AP POSITION REQUEST
Proposing Division, Unit, Group or Individual
Main Library Humanities Hub Planning Team
Potential sources of funding for position
Funds released following Bruce Swann’s retirement; Academic pool
Recommended time frame for filling (immediate need, 6 months, 1 year, etc.) and explanation
Fill within 1 year; responsibility for Classics is currently being covered half-time by Visiting Assistant Professor Mark Wardecker, whose position will come to an end in January 10, 2014.
Position Need & Rationale: explain how this position contributes to the Library’s strategic goals
The Main Library Humanities Hub Planning Team has been charged to develop a position for a “librarian whose duties include collection development and liaison responsibilities for Classics, as well as related responsibilities.” The Classics Librarian serves a critical role as subject liaison with various programs and departments, overseeing the University Library’s world-renowned collections in Classics and offering expert research guidance to interdisciplinary humanities researchers from the UIUC campus and from other institutions as well. The Team is developing a position description that will be submitted by mid-December along with the team’s final report. Please consider this a placeholder for a position that will be fully developed in the context of the Team’s broader discussions of the Humanities Hub.
Brief position description and job duties
1. To build and curate collections in multiple formats in the disciplinary area of Classics, including relevant aspects of interdisciplinary campus programs such as Medieval Studies;
2. To develop and provide instructional and reference services and materials in support of teaching, learning, and research; to serve as liaison to relevant campus departments and programs, including the department of Classics and the Medieval Studies program.
3. To contribute to reference service provision in the Main Library/UGL reference hub.
4. To contribute to the Library’s digital humanities services and collaborate with colleagues in other digital scholarship initiatives.
5. To assume other responsibilities that may be identified by the NSM Humanities Team.
How might this position evolve to meet continuing Library needs in 5-10 years?
The library’s collections, including Classics, are likely to continue to be increasingly “hybrid” – involving a mixture of print and digital resources – in the coming years, and the current interest among Classics researchers in doing large-scale projects involving digital texts is likely to become increasingly sophisticated. What is not likely to change is the need for a librarian who possesses expert-level subject knowledge and an up-to-date familiarity with trends and developments in current research and criticism. This will need to be allied to an interest in digital humanities efforts, and a strong service ethic.
Library EC, rev. Sept. 2006
APPENDIX 4: LIST OF TEAM MEMBERS
John Wagstaff, Music & Performing Arts Library (Chair)
Robert Cagle, Literatures and Languages Library
Paula Carns, Head of Literatures and Languages Library
Harriett Green, English and Digital Humanities Librarian
Dianne Harris, Head, Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities
JoAnn Jacoby, Head, Reference, Research and Scholarly Services
J.-P. Mathy, Department of French
Kirk Sanders, Associate Professor of the Classics and Philosophy
Sue Searing, Interim Associate University Librarian for User Services
Sarah Shreeves, IDEALS and Scholarly Commons Coordinator
Marek Sroka, Acting Head, History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library
Caroline Szylowicz, Kolb-Proust Librarian/Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts/French Studies Subject Specialist
Mark Wardecker, Visiting Classics/Reference Librarian
Charlie Wright, Director of the Program in Medieval Studies and English
 This may be an opportunity to take advantage of a deferred gift to support a reading room or nook with comfortable seating for individual readers.