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Re-Envisioning Library Services - Introduction

The Berkeley Library has been subject to the national trend of substantially reduced funding for academic libraries. Over the past 4 years, the Library has lost nearly 70 budgeted staff, equivalent to 20% of our budgeted positions. Assuming relatively stable future budgets, the Library still needs to reduce its workforce via attrition by approximately 20 FTE (our shorthand for positions of all types) over the next 3 years to reach a balanced budget.

The Library has survived in recent years by asking our remaining staff to take on substantial additional responsibilities to cover for colleagues who have left. This is not fair to our staff and is not a feasible long-term strategy. It is time for Berkeley to embark upon a process to re-envision library services that will result in a new service model that is sustainable within our staffing levels and continues to provide services of which we can all be proud. A new model means that we will have to embrace change – some existing services will be provided in new ways, some will cease, and new services may arise.

Service re-envisioning must happen in a thoughtful manner. Our work will be informed by the Library’s Statement of Purpose and Statement of Values that were developed by Library staff and endorsed by the Library Administration in Fall 2000. The process will use these principles to guide our decisions

This initiative will be informed by our previous New Directions recommendations, which will be revisited in light of new budget, staffing and service realities. The Subject Specialty Libraries, East Asian Library, Bancroft Library, Doe/Moffitt Libraries, and Collections Services are in scope for this initiative. The Library’s Human Resources, Business and Systems Offices will not be included in this initiative, as they are currently being reviewed under Operational Excellence (OE). The Library’s Collections budget is also out of scope for this effort, but the services that help build and provide access to library materials will be reviewed.

Our process will be loosely modeled on the Berkeley Academic Program Review. Important data will be gathered, analyzed, and fed into a broader self-study conducted by the Library. The self-studies, when completed, will be released for review and comment by the full range of our community – faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, library staff and the campus academic administration. At the end of the review, I will issue an “Outcome Letter” that states new priorities, the service models, and “action items” for the Library to implement.

The Library’s self-study teams will be formed and charged in the beginning of January, 2012. There will be at least two teams.

  1. Service Models – this group will explore different service configurations, their required staffing levels and costs, and document the benefits and drawbacks of each. From these, it will recommend the service model it believes provides the best service while being sustainable given our reduced workforce.
  2. The Role of the Librarian – this group will identify the key areas of expertise that must be provided by librarians in order to sustain our library as a premier academic research center, and recommend how those could be delivered within a reduced workforce. As one component, the responsibilities of library liaisons to academic departments and programs must be explored, with recommended guidelines for determining service excellence and equitable workload.

The study teams will meet weekly and consult widely for three months with final recommendations due to me in mid-April. The campus review process will last until July, 2012, at which point I, as the University Librarian, will issue my Outcome Letter and the re-envisioning implementation will begin in earnest.

The Self-study teams will include representatives from:

  • Subject Specialty Libraries
  • Doe/Moffitt Libraries
  • East Asian Library
  • Bancroft Library
  • Collections Services
  • Library staff
  • Library administration

It is likely that staff will continue to leave the Library (e.g., retirements) as the self-study process unfolds. Adjustments will have to be made, but the Library will strive not to implement any non-reversible changes until our strategy to move forward is released in my Outcome Letter.

While there will be tough decisions to be made, I am confident that we have the talent and resources to develop a balanced service model that allows us to provide excellent, user-focused services and sets us on a path toward long-term health and success of the Berkeley Library.

Tom Leonard, University Librarian
December 20, 2011

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