Response to PSED recommendations for Action Plan

date:     Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 9:44 AM
subject:     Response to PSED recommendations for Action Plan

Tina - thanks for your submission a few weeks back of recommendations regarding how the Library might respond, in part, to the challenges laid out in the Provost's letter. While several of the specifics that PSED has laid out in its letter will be the subject of a future implementation process, e.g., timing of unit closures, timeline for processing materials, and opportunities for potential future re-allocation of staff, we appreciate the specific directions you have laid out.

As we prepare the initial draft of the Action Plan for review by the Library, we expect to include the following recommendations:

  1. close the Physics/Astronomy Library as of May 15, 2009 and integrate its service program into the Grainger Library;
  2. close the Geology Library as of May 15, 2009, or as of August 15, 2009, and integrate its service program into the Grainger Library.

In both of the above cases, we would look to pursue opportunities to embed the subject specialist in the academic department (in the case of Geology, looking to co-locate Lura's space with that of the to be established ATLAS lab on 4th NHB). We would appreciate your thoughts on the preferred closing date for Geology, and whether summer service might help to better prepare for the period during which these materials will need to be served remotely. Finally, both in the above recommendations, and in those discussed below, we would encourage a lesser focus on "housing the combined collections" of current PSED libraries in the Grainger space, and a greater focus on the future complement of collections and services that would be needed in Grainger (and Noyes) to accommodate a different vision of our complement of science library units.

Regarding the proposal to simply reduce hours in Math, we would like to know if there is data behind this recommendation. The recommendation appears to result simply in a diminished departmental library - one open fewer hours and in which access to professional service is likewise less - and the only argument made in favor of pursuing this approach is that it would be difficult to reconfigure the Math Library space should we vacate it. We would prefer to present an argument based on the nature of the way in which mathematicians pursue their research, the vitality of the use of the collections, and the close relationship between the Math faculty and students and the Math librarian. Is there an argument to be made for retaining Math as a departmental library in the best sense, rather than in the least sense?

Regarding the proposal to integrate Biology and Chemistry in the Noyes space, we find this recommendation compelling, but ask that you take a different approach to it. As we are recommending to all units considered for integration, we would like to see the unit that would come from following this recommendation to be a true Biochemistry Library, rather than a Chemistry Library that has "taken on a portion" of the portfolio of the Biology Library. We would like to see you and Diane work together to consider the service program of this new unit (Biochemistry) in the Noyes space. Likewise, we would like to see a similar re-envisioning of the Grainger service program - beginning not from the question of "what Grainger can take in," but what it would mean for Grainger to evolve from an "engineering library" to a more broadly based "science and engineering library."

Based on our experiences with NSM programs to date, we see this as a critical starting point for truly re-envisioning Library service programs in units evolving to encompass a greater scope, and we see this as something that definitely needs to be pursued should any/all of the proposals contained in the PSED letter be implemented.

Please share this with PSED colleagues. In order to maintain momentum toward the completion of the initial draft of the Action Plan, we ask that you provide any response to the above questions to me by March 11, 2009. The recommendations that go into the initial Action Plan related to current PSED units will be the subject of a Library Forum later this month; we look forward to your participation.

Please let me know if you have any questions; I look forward to your further input on this critical change process.



Scott Walter, M.L.S., Ph.D.
Associate University Librarian for Services, and Associate Dean of Libraries
Professor of Library Administration and Library & Information Science
Affiliate, Department of Educational Organization and Leadership
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign