Minutes -- February 27, 2009

Area and International Studies New Service Model (NSM) Team

February 27, 2009

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

Barbara is looking for volunteers to write drafts of the decisions that have been made.  She indicated that we have thus far decided upon the units that should initially be included and units that might be considered.  There was mention of possible relationships with main reference and interlibrary loan.
Topics for discussion and decision today include:
  • physical location for the new services
  • vision for the unit
  • services that should be provided
  • benefits of moving the units closer together
  • any financial savings that might be realized
  • what we need to make this all happen.
In conversation with Jeff Shrader, Barbara learned that University Planning has a general recommendation of 150 square feet per FTE.  Using the figures Al Kagan provided, the proposed unit would fit in either space.

There was some discussion regarding moving items on which there was no consensus to administration for decision-making.  We are primarily an advisory team.  Scott needs to give a preliminary report to the Provost next week.

Discussion began with a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of the two sites in question - Room 315 and Room 325 or Room 200/200D, Room 225, and, possibly, Room 227.  Al Kagan is also taking notes on this discussion in order to prepare a draft section for the report.

Plusses for using Rooms 315 and 325 are:

The following points are from Al Kagan's message to the team:

  1. The Asian Library should not be divorced from its stacks.  Convenient access to their stacks promotes efficiency in both public and technical services, and promotes user satisfaction.  Since many of the Asian faculty and staff do both public and technical services, it seems very unlikely that most technical services people will be physically centralized any time soon.
  2. On our tour, Mary Mallory said that sound carries in their office and that they will be happy to move and get a more private space.   She seemed surprised that we might want to contend with the noise problem.
  3. The current Asian Reading Room is very nice and might be configured to include materials form all the units involved.  (Further discussion about this item seemed to indicate that the collections that would be coming to the central services space might not fit here.)
  4. The English Library space has several nice faculty offices that would be very useful for the new service model.
  5. Comparing spaces, the current Asian and English libraries together are bigger than the Slavic space and Advancement office together without part of the current Reference Room/current Documents Library.  It is unclear how much space we would get in the Reference Room.  It would take 800 square feet to equal the third  floor space.
  6. We should not make decisions based on what is more convenient in the short-term.  Just because there will soon be space in Slavic is not a good reason to move there. Waiting a few more months should not be a major consideration.
  7. I think we need to realistic about our expectations for the new service model. The previous marriage of Africana and Afro-Americana promoted service to undergraduates.  Over the years, the majority of  undergraduates who used our library came in primarily for Afro- American studies, although many used both collections. (On the African side, their concerns often related to identity issues concerning Africa.) Service to undergraduates in the other area studies libraries has been hampered by the lack budgets for  collecting titles in English.  Furthermore, we have an Undergraduate Library where undergraduates normally congregate, and where we  intentionally funnel them.  Undergraduates are of course doing more of their work online.  They would benefit from consultations with  librarians, but they either often get this in the Undergraduate Library or they think that Google will solve all their needs. Sorry to say, I do not think we will be see a huge increase in traffic at  our new service point. I do not think that a more obvious location  will overcome the obstacles above in bringing a lot more traffic to  the new service model reference desk.  All other things equal, I opt for the most comfortable space for our operations which is the third  floor space.

Briefly, additional positive arguments for the third floor rooms include:
  • closer proximity to Asian technical services and stacks - even if the spaces could be defined in Room 325 strictly identifying technical service and public service areas
  • quiet environment
  • the Asian reading room (although Shyyong indicated it was rather small)
  • rooms are in good shape in 315 with only the current periodicals room needing some work
  • even if the private rooms are not used as offices they are very nice to have
  • fewer people to move
Other discussion revolved around the comparative space that might be available.  It is difficult to compare the two spaces without information on how much of Room 200/200D would be available.  The only thing we know about Room 200 at this point is that it is "for users."

It was also reiterated that we should not be making decisions just based on short-term conditions.  We also need to be realistic about foot traffic, especially undergraduates.  Discussion ensued concerning undergraduate use of the proposed area.  It is assumed that undergrads gravitate to the Undergraduate Library and also do a great deal of their work online.  The use of the proposed unit by undergraduates and others would depend in large degree on the opportunities to bring them into the area with instruction sessions.  The other library in the building that draws a large number of undergraduates is the Education and Social Science Library. It was also pointed out that the Main Reading Room has consistently been used by more people since the comfortable furniture was added.  It has become a more inviting space.

Negatives for the third floor include:
  • accessibility for disabled users - only one elevator currently is available to the public for the 3rd floor
  • more difficult to find - related to the above
  • the English Library is still there
  • the separate rooms are a limitation - preset walls
  • less visible to the average user
  • inability to make this one big space since the hallway cannot be blocked - the service point would probably remain split
We once again discussed the reasons for the changes being proposed which include making collections available to our users for longer hours and the desire to move administrative offices up to the fourth floor.  The Latin American and Caribbean area has already undergone physical changes.

Plusses for Room 200/200D, Room 225, and Room 227 (if available) are:
  • adjacency to Room 200 - a "jewel" and considered our best space in the building where the "international" belongs according to our strategic plan and vision
  • possibility of having one service point for our users
  • proximity to HPNL, Central Reference, and Main Stacks (for most)
  • possibility of a separate space for staff
  • possibly able to accommodate a larger combined reference collection
  • already has classroom space with a plasma screen (it was noted that this would bring the public into the "private" area of staff)
Negatives for the 2nd floor would be:
  • more noise
  • less private space for librarians to work
  • Asian loses access to its stacks
  • have to be careful with Slavic Reference Service staff to make sure the Title VIII employees are not perceived as doing general reference
  • has two entrances (although there were some suggestions regarding this including making the entrance from the hallway for staff only or reconfiguring the room to make that area part of a larger classroom)
Discussion ensued as to what the day-to-day life of librarians and staff in the area would require in this area.  The librarian would probably move to a public area to talk with users, and many of them move around a great deal between working with staff, doing liaison, and working with collections.  Some quiet reading space and rooms that the librarians and staff could step into would be necessary.  In addition one would need communal spaces for meetings (unit meetings, meetings of library committees, etc.).  It will be necessary to communicate with our users regarding where and when they can get their questions answered.  It was emphasized that the third floor provides better possibilities for instructional space in a public area, although if the Advancement Office is included in the plan instruction and meetings might be held there.  

Care needs to be taken, if indeed remodeling of spaces is possible, that we are clear about the physical needs for this service point and our thinking is not limited by the current layout.  Space can be configured in different ways.  

Ultimately, any new arrangement will be better for some folks and not for others.  But, wherever we move we would have liaison librarians closer together with the opportunity for better interactions.

We briefly returned to the discussion of the units included in this new service model.  Barbara reminded us that we are simply sending our recommendations forward and that the final decision will be made by the administration.

The question of where this newly proposed service point should be quartered was called with the following results:

Second Floor - 7 people in favor
Third Floor - 3 people in favor
Abstention - 1

We might still need some space on the third floor for staff in a non-public area.  

What happens with someone like the Japanese librarian who does both public service and technical services work?  This might make the use of a third floor staff area necessary.

 

VISION

Is there a way to make it less wordy?   The fourth paragraph of the draft that Scott Walter wrote seems to get to the heart of the vision, with most of the rest serving as background.  

Andrew Orta indicated we are still operating within the black box of "international" and we need to clarify what international means.  There also has to be a way of talking about how the areas in question can be brought together, yet retain their individual styles.

Al Kagan stated we have yet to define the organizational structure.  Should we call it a hub, a cluster or something that could provide for individual identities with the word "library" in it for Title VI purposes?  Other terms including resource centers, reference, division, and services were discussed as part of the new unit name.  There seemed to be some consensus on the use of International and Area Studies Services as the name of the overarching structure, with the term library applied to those subunits that include a bibliographer/subject specialist.  The virtual representation of the library will retain the "library" division for each area as well.  Consensus also seemed to be that we could not have a new library with libraries in it.

To reiterate - The names of the individual libraries should remain and there should be a distinct librarian dedicated to each of the component parts.  (Please note vote in minutes from March 3 meeting for clarification.)

There was further discussion about the concept of a physical library as well as a brief explanation of the Global Studies arrangement.  

Susan Schneur added that it is important to underline that we continue to maintain and support collection development at the same level.  We don't want to lose anything by bringing things together. There will not be savings in collection development.  In addition, we are concerned about what will happen to current staff members.  Consensus was that we need to take the opportunity to make the case for increased funding and use our report to advocate for it.

We are unsure that there are any economies of scale in collections by bringing them together.  We are aware that much might happen to realign the collections and maybe some of the budgets.

The following individuals were charged with creating draft statements and getting them to the rest of the team by Tuesday:

  • Lynne Rudasill - units involved
  • Andrew Orta and Scott Walter - vision statement revision
  • Susan Schnuer and Jan Adamczyk - services provided and what needs to be done to make it happen
  • Barbara Ford and Paula Carns - benefits
  • Marek Sroka and Shuyong Jiang - challenges
  • Merle Bowen - critical reader
  • John Wagstaff - official editor
  • Al Kagan - location

We are recommending that another, smaller group with some continuity in membership from the original team should now take on implementation of this proposal.