Minutes -- February 24, 2009

Area and International Studies New Service Model (NSM) Team

February 24, 2009, 9:00-12:00

Susan Schnuer reporting

Present:  Jan Adamczyk, Paula Carns, Barbara Ford, Susan Schnuer, Al Kagan, Shuyong Jiang, Merle Bowen, Marek Sroka, John Wagstaff, Lynne Rudasill. Andrew Orta, Scott Walter.


Decisions made

  • The new unit will encompass the following units: Area Studies, Global Studies, European Studies, and Modern Languages and Linguistics.
  • The name for the new unit is International and Area Studies

Decisions Pending

  • Location: the committee wanted additional information
  • Space and Service Needs: tiered reference with service desk, research consultation space for 2-3 people, small group instruction space, instructional classroom, public workstations with special software, space for international visitors, exhibits in hallway, seating, scanners and printers, CD-ROM workstations, reference collections.


Barbara reviewed the agenda and asked the committee members to have basic areas of agreement at the end of the meeting.  She asked Paula to give a summary of the responses to Andrew's questions.

Question 1-

The first concerns the relationship between area studies on the one hand and international and global studies on the other.  To put the question too simply, does the new services module reflect the blending together of overlapping projects in the University, or are we talking about changing relationships among what are qualitatively distinct forms of scholarship in the University?

Paula reported that the consensus was that Area and Global Studies seem to fit together. Most felt that "International" as a subject was too large and vague. The new service model should focus instead on what is unique.

Question 2 -

With almost every part of the University interested in internationalizing, and with the rubrics of "international" or "global" potentially encompassing all scholarship, what doesn't belong in the international and area studies part of the library?   The answer to question 1, it seems to me, might drive the criteria for defining the new service point, the relationship among the component parts of the service point, and the relationship between that service point and other parts of the library.

Paula felt that there was agreement on what gets included. However there needs to be more discussion about the inclusion of Modern Languages since the responses were mixed.  Most agreed that English should not be included.

Question 3 -

Hovering over our conversations is the growing economic catastrophe, which will surely continue to impact the organization and staff of the library for some time. While the assumption is that our recommendations will result in increased efficiency in library services, it doesn't necessarily follow that our recommendations will result in a smaller or less expensive library, nor is clear to me that this is our charge.  How will/should we address this?  How will/should we balance our recommendations across the austerity of the near term and a longer term institutional future that ought to be part of the vision we define?

Paula liked the answer: "This is the Gorilla in the room, no one knows."  Most committee members said think big, make the case, and see what happens.  Barbara said that there might be money for one time projects.

Question 4 -

Our conversations have shifted back and forth between a focus on an imagined new service point that will be an accessible gateway for a variety of library users and a set of staff expertise that will continue to shape library collections.  Our recommendations will have consequences for both of these elements of the work of the library.   How will/should we distinguish between them?

The group agreed that we want a vibrant online presence; one gateway with many components and one service point with tiered structure (still under discussion exactly what it would look like). Merle commented that a lot of money was just invested in Africana's website, they would like to preserve that work.  There was discussion about the website not changing much at the beginning.  The reference collection would be located around the reference desk and also have an online presence.

Lynne said that all the librarians in Social Studies are on the reference desk and it is very successful model. It allows for one-on-one teaching moments.  Tiered reference also works well. Using IM and Chat options are possibilities.

Merle asked about the training of GAs.  Some GAs are dedicated to reference, they get general reference training and also subject specific training. This is typical training in the library.

Jan cautioned that if faculty members are not put in reference rotation, then the reference desk would have a very small crew and there could be times when the reference desk is not fully staffed.

Paula summarized the four themes that emerged from the comments:

  1. Mapping our services to campus services and teaching
  2. Maintaining identity
  3. Highlighting uniqueness of collections and subject expertise
  4. Better service to students

What units should be included in the new model?

Decision: New model should include Area studies, Global studies, European Studies, and Modern Languages and Linguistics. English, History, and Ethnic studies should not be included.

Discussion: Paula described the structure of Modern languages and raised issues to help the group decide if Modern Languages should be included. Can Modern Languages staff and Lynne function as Europeanists? Modern languages covers linguistics.  Where should that go?  

John asked if our patrons cared about how we organized our libraries.  He suggested that we keep the patron in mind during these discussions. Andrew said that the public face will have some impact on collection development and we need to remember that this is one possible gateway.  He tended towards a more narrow definition of this unit.  Shuyong mentioned that we do not need to figure out all the details today.  

Susan said that we should focus on process.  What do we want to do?  It will help determine the "who" and the "how".

Al expressed concern about our definition of Europe: do we want to create a unit focused on Europe or do we want pieces.  If the EU is part of the unit with languages and linguistics, then what about rest of Europe?  Should we advocate for a larger definition of Europe in this new unit?

Scott was intrigued by Al's idea.   Should there be a recommendation related to collection dollars?  This could help Illinois remain a distinctive presence.  What will facilitate the work of research specialists on campus?  To make this decision we need to establish clear connections and help to facilitate them.

Barbara sees an opportunity to increase cooperation between these areas and make the library more coherent for our users. She suggested that we put Europe on the list and then come back to details later.

Paula wanted to argue for including English. Scott felt that the distinction is that English is not an area studies library, it is focused on literary and textual analysis. Lynne says that there is also an American studies.

Andrew felt that the new unit should only include interdisciplinary approaches to the subject, also comparative studies, so he would include Europe and but not Modern Languages.

Barbara said that we should include Modern Languages for our users as they might expect to see Modern Languages in an International and Area Studies unit. Andrew commented on the  links between area studies and international studies, they are interdisciplinary in nature.

Scott said that we have to make a recommendation about Modern Languages, we can either recommend that it be part of this new unit, that it merge with English, or leave it as is.  Scott saw benefits about having Modern Languages in the new unit; it helps build a single resource point for all living languages.

Lynne supported including Modern languages.  Merle agreed with Andrew and preferred to see the Modern Languages with English in a separate unit.

Al wanted to know context before making a decision, will someone in the new unit be in charge of Europe?  Then it should be in the new unit because there were be resources to support it.  Scott answered that we have the resources now.

Andrew was not aware of the fate of Modern languages and was concerned we are talking about absorbing a slot in the library that is not worth maintaining, so where should it be absorbed?  Scott says that Modern Languages is not sustainable in its current form however the Library believes that it is important to support Modern languages so how can it be part of a logical unit? If we want to say that it is a focus point for the library and then we would need to have the resources (budget, personnel).

Barbara hoped that in new revised unit we could work out some of these issues.  We need new chemistry and mixing of ideas or we will never get off dead center.  Putting Modern Languages in adds new people and ideas. Closing the English library was mentioned as a possibility.

John would support including Modern Languages if the cultural component is important and it would fit into the new unit.  Paula remarked that the linguistics faculty and students are the ones using the Modern Languages library.  Paula deals mainly with linguistics, not literature. Marek said can he could see linguistics as fitting in this new unit.  Paula said that perhaps linguistics would fit in Social Sciences. Scott said that we are missing digital content in linguistics, a hole in our service.  So we might think about the technological component as a part of the new services.

Al mentioned the issue of closing English.  The group agreed that we are not recommending closure of English. Our charge is to decide if English should be included in the new unit.

What about ethnic studies? Native American, Latino/Latina, Asian American Studies, Jewish Students, Asian American Studies, African-American are all part of ethnic studies, only one has a designated specialist.  We do not have an ethnic studies librarian, the units are limited in scope.

Merle mentioned the discussion about a campus proposal for an ethnic studies school.  It would include Gender and Women Studies.  Right now all these units are in small houses around campus. Susan argued for including the ethnic studies.  Scott said that we are headed down the slippery slope if we included them. Merle agreed that it opened up a whole other area to consider.  Paula said that Lisa has money for Latino/Latina resources and she is cooperating with Lisa on migration studies.  Paula will be creating the web resources in Latin America for Latino/Latina. Scott said that we need to focus on ethnic studies but it does not belong in the new unit.

The group then agreed that the new unit should include Area studies, Global Studies, Modern Languages and Linguistics, and Europe.

Title for New Unit

Decision: New unit title is "International and Area Studies"

Discussion: Barbara said that we are currently calling it "International and Area Studies".  Al offered Area and Global Studies.  Scott said that we should follow the campus lead and the campus uses "International Programs".

Lynne suggested "Area and International Studies".  Al mentioned "World Area" as a possibility.

Group agreed on "International and Area Studies" as the title for the new unit.

Scott's report for Provost

Scott said that we need recommendations on structural changes that will demonstrate a different coordination of resources. What we should have is in the report is the overarching decision that underpins the decision and perceived benefits, and a recommendation about where we might physically place the new unit. In the initial statements (this needs to be discussed with faculty) what services do we want to have?  We do not need too many details about the structure but we do need identify the possibilities for reallocations (financial savings), for example student salaries.

Location of New Unit

There are two spaces under consideration: room 200, Slavic library and possibly the Advancement Office (all on second floor), and the English library and current Asian library (all on third floor).

Scott commented that are differences between the two possible locations in library, 200 would be more accessible and very visible but it would remove the Asian faculty from direct access to collection. One consideration is the configuration of Asian reference in the new unit.   Asian reference could share space with Slavic reference service and you could put the public space of the whole unit in 200

Merle would like to see the floor plan to be able to compare both spaces. Both spaces have pros and cons. Scott that that there was concern about security on third floor.  Al remarked that it is a dream of all librarians to have your reference desk next to stacks.  Asian would lose that access if we went to 200.  

Shuyong thinks that the space on the third floor is larger than the second floor.  Barbara said that the second floor space would give a great visibility and would send a powerful message to the public.  Jan pointed out that a benefit of the second floor is proximity to Central Reference.  Lynne really likes third floor space, however one problem with third floor is accessibility.

Shuyong said that Asian has to cover many languages.  John said that an argument for the second floor is that we do not have to address the location of English and also accessibility is an issue on the third floor.  The second floor space could be available more quickly.  Shuyong is not sure that second floor can fit everyone.

Paula Kaufman has said that we cannot make any changes in the big reference room. Merle was concerned that sound carries on the second floor and that could be an issue.  Scott noted that the plans are to restore 200 as a reading room space.  As we move materials out, we do not want to add additional high bookshelves.  The ideal is to restore it as an open service space.

Lynne asked Scott for more information about the space, information such as linear space.  Scott said that the librarians may not have the same amount of space as they currently hold in the new unit. Scott mentioned that easy access to the stacks is a benefit to being in the room 200.

Barbara said that we can make the space work.  She is more concerned if we have space for a computer lab. Lynne agreed to put the linear feet summary space together.

Barbara wondered if we could close the Asian library as public space and use it for office space. Jan said that if we go with second floor plan, the flow and room 200 and would be on the same floor as reference and also the stacks.  We would have a huge reference area.

Scott said that perhaps simply moving the union catalog out of 200 might free enough space.

Shuyong asked if Asian could stay in its current location but retain a presence in the new model.  The answer was no. Scott said that we might want to do some remodeling in 225 for offices. We will keep the present location of the Asian collection in the Stacks. We need to consider issues such as: do we maintain public access to the Asian Stacks from Asian library?  Shall people have offices in Asian or downstairs?

The problem in Asian is that staff both serve as reference and catalogers and it is hard to separate the work of the librarians and staff. Scott mentioned that a lot of space in Asian library is dedicated to technical processing and backlogs. If there is a move to the second floor, the focus would be on access for people and reading room functions, then the question of what remains in Asian could be decided later.  John asked how you would sell this move to faculty.  Barbara answered that faculty would have longer hours of access to reading room. Shuyong said that there could be one service point and then we could have office space for librarians.

John asked about the main advantages of moving Asian to second floor.  Scott said that the second floor is more accessible so we could offer better service to the users.  The access to Asian stacks is a security issue and something to consider.  Scott said that we are talking about moving reading room and reference service.  There might remain a rationale for keeping technical service processing activities on the third floor adjacent to stacks collection.  This technical space is different from public space. We are talking about moving public space.

Shuyong said that the current set-up in Asian is the best way to serve the faculty.  If Asian moves to second floor that they would lose that great service.  Scott said that Asian right now has an advantage because they have maintained co-location, this is the case only with other large libraries on campus. Shuyong wanted the committee to consider advantages and disadvantages of both spaces.

John said that we might not want to change the current set-up in area studies if everything is fine as it is.  John referred to the Communications-LIS new service model report. Scott said that many people felt that LIS was important public space and we lost some of those aspects when library was closed. However the LIS curriculum had gone a long way from the scope of the LIS library. John asked if funding was driving the move to change the current set-up.  Scott said that it was not.  Scott said that we want to retain the convenience versus the benefits of using the second floor.

Space and Service needs in new unit

Andrew said that it would be helpful to think about net changes between current spaces and the new spaces.  Maybe we should think about the new resources in this new service point and what space we will need to accommodate them. What is needed in new space?

We do not need to have audiovisual but do need microfiche scanner and printers.  Scanners would be helpful.  Scott said that there are power limitations in 200.

List of what is needed:

  • Tiered reference with service desk
  • Research consultations space for 2-3 people
  • Small group instruction
  • Instructional classroom
  • Public workstations with special software
  • Space for international visitors
  • Exhibits in hallways
  • Seating
  • Scanners and printers
  • CD-Rom workstations
  • Reference collection

There are two competing models for the location of the new unit: the third floor vs. the second floor.  The group decided that they needed more information to make a decision. Lynne is gathering information about spaces and space needs for the Friday meeting.  Scott said that the focus should be on what needs to happen.  The Provost is going to want to know how quickly it can be done.  The second floor is the easiest space to move into since Slavic is already changing.  It also allows things to be done in stages. Scott mentioned the possibility of considering the Advancement space.