Report to the Blue Ribbon Committee
October 3, 1997
Professor Carla Hesse
Department of History
Thank you for your letter asking about the Library's cooperative collecting activities, and for your telephone message indicating that those of us who received it could provide you with a brief joint response in anticipation of further elaboration in futu re discussions with your committee. In this letter we will try to give you a general overview of the situation here in responding directly to your questions, but naturally all of us are available for more detailed answers when the time is right for that .
1) How and when was cooperative collection initiated at the UC Berkeley Libraries?
In a very real sense our cooperative collecting activities are nearly as old as the Library itself; the first University librarian, Joseph Rowell, established cooperative relationships as early as the 1890s with each of the state historical associations i n the United States, exchanging Berkeley's publications for those of the state societies, and over the decades Berkeley's exchange program has grown to more than 4,000 partners worldwide. These cooperative programs build the Berkeley collections by provi ding our readers with literally thousands of new books and journal issues per year items often unavailable through commercial sources on subjects of interest to academic programs on the campus. In exchange, we send our national and internat ional partners the latest fruits of Berkeley's scholarly presses, which we purchase in bulk at reduced prices from their publishers. The net result is a rich annual influx of research material at a relatively modest price for the campus.
Other kinds of cooperative collecting activities are more recent, and involve both joint acquisition of library materials and selective assignment as "primary collecting responsibility" to participating institutions. For example, since the late 1970s, Be rkeley has participated in the cooperative collecting activities of the Research Libraries Group, a consortium of around 50 of the largest research libraries in the U.S. and abroad; one interesting feature of this program has been the assignment of primar y collecting responsibility to specific libraries for esoteric collecting fields, to insure that at least one U.S. research library collects extensively eve in relatively obscure fields. Some examples of Berkeley's "PRCs" in this program include Friesian studies (in connection with our academic program in Dutch Studies) and Catalan which as you know has blossomed into an important part of Berkeley's area studies programs in the recent past.
There are many types of national cooperative activities, organized by official consortia such as the RLG and the Center for Research Libraries. Berkeley is an active participant in the CRL, and relies on it to collect many kinds of materials, such as for eign dissertations, specific types of large microform sets, and little-used foreign newspapers. Although we were a founding member of the RLG, our participation in this consortium has decreased progressively and dramatically over the past ten years, in p art for fiscal reasons (its high annual membership fees); but during the period of our closest association with it, our library played a leadership role in designing numerous cooperative collecting programs for journals, monographic series, and materials in highly esoteric fields.
For many years the Library has also cooperated closely with other UC campuses and with Stanford in a very specific way: through the "shared acquisition program", begun in the 1980s by the creation of a common UC funding pool for expensive purchases such a s large microform sets, monumental data collection projects (e.g., the Palomar Sky Survey or the Aerial Maps of California), and costly electronic databases. (Stanford contributes to the program by agreeing to purchase titles from the jointly-compiled an nual desiderata list of such materials.) Ironically, this kind of cooperation among the UCs and Stanford has suffered disproportionately in the straitened fiscal circumstances of the present decade: library funding for local collecting priorities has become so critically short that we cannot afford the relative luxury of tithing even a modest percentage of our budget to common purposes. As a results, we can no longer guarantee that even one copy of high-cost monumental sets relevant to current sc holarship at the nine UC campuses and Stanford will be available.
A third kind of cooperation, which also began in the 1970s and blossomed in the 1980s, is the voluntary consortial agreement between UC campuses (and often including Stanford) to divide collecting responsibilities among themselves. These agreements are h ighly specialized and subject to revision as conditions of local scholarship evolve; among the dozens of such agreements, one example may be illustrative: since 1978, Berkeley and Stanford have agreed to divide the responsibilities for Germanic collecting . Berkeley (with an endowed chair in Dutch Studies and a Scandinavian Department with a wide range of teaching and research activities) has accepted the principal collecting responsibility for the Dutch-speaking countries and the Scandinavian countries i n humanities and social science fields; in return, we can rely on Stanford to collect more comprehensively with respect to Switzerland and Austria two areas of traditional interest for them.
Another form of cooperative collection development, specific to the social sciences, is the collaborative work being done with government data. The UC library, working with consortial partners. loads this data onto Internet servers, provides access to th e data via the Word Wide Web, creates integrated, electronic documentation to support its use, maintains and adds to the data as new sets become available, and creates training materials to aid users. This kind of collaboration benefits users across the consortium, and leverages the work of collections specialists at Berkeley. These materials are used by a wide range of social sciences disciplines: political science, sociology, ethnic studies, demography, city planning, and public policy, as examples.
A final kind of cooperative collecting activity has recently been pioneered by UC Berkeley and the UC Santa Cruz library: UCSC's library has a limited but unavoidable need for some partial FTE expertise in Slavic studies, but does not require a full-time Slavic librarian. At Berkeley, due to the elevated levels of professional staffing loss (the number of librarians has dropped over 30% since 1991), our Slavic librarian spent a significant portion of his time in nonspecialized pursuits such as providing general reference assistance at the Reference Desk. In exchange for .20 FTE of our Slavic Librarian's time, UCSC provided us with the funds necessary to hire temporary part-time general reference librarians to replace the Slavic Librarian's reference hou rs. This is an original kind of shared collection activity, in which the commodity shared is the expertise of the specialist librarian rather than the books and journals in the respective collections.
There are also other kids and examples of cooperative collecting activities which may be of interest to your members, and we look forward to the opportunity to discuss them with you as the need arises.
2) How extensive is the UC Berkeley cooperative collection in comparison with that of other major research libraries?
It is difficult to quantify programs of cooperative collection for comparative purposes, but the systemwide UC cooperative program (including Stanford) is generally acknowledged to be one of the largest of its kind among U.S. research libraries. The foll owing list of subject areas for which cooperative agreements have been made, each with its own steering committee of subject specialist librarians from the participating institutions, will give you an idea of the program's breadth:
Art, Biomedical Sciences, Biosciences, Government Documents, East Asia, English and American Literature, Ethnic Studies, Geosciences, Germanic studies, Latin America, Cartography, Music, Physical Sciences, Slavic studies, Sociology, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Special Collections (such as rare books and manuscripts) and Women's Studies/U.S. History.
A comparable program, and perhaps even slightly larger than the UC/Stanford one, is the coalition of midwest libraries called the Committee on Interinstitutional Cooperation, including Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State, Indiana, Illinois, Northwestern and s everal other large research libraries. Nonetheless it is safe to say that the UCB Library is one of the most active participants in cooperative collection programs among U.S. research libraries, and that its partnerships with other UC campuses and with S tanford represent one of the most extensive cooperative collecting programs in the country.
In terms of bilateral agreements, the UCB-Stanford cooperative program is one of the oldest and most successful such initiatives among premier research libraries in the United States; our proximity to the Palo Alto campus and the relative ease of movement between the two sites (as well as the liberal nature of the reciprocal privileges accorded graduate students and faculty under the program) make it a very popular one with our users. In the recent past we have begun discussions to expand the bilateral a greements with Stanford to include other partners; a proposal has been made to the University of Texas at Austin, for example, to join the UCB/Stanford consortium to expand the coverage of Latin American (especially Mexican) materials for scholars at the three institutions.
3) With what other libraries do the Berkeley libraries cooperate?In addition to the 4,000 exchange partners mentioned above, and the other UC campuses and Stanford, we also cooperate whenever possible with any library able to provide our users with materials relevant to their research and teaching. An example of this kind of cooperation is our relationship with the Graduate Theological Union Library, one of the largest theological libraries in the United States, located only one block from the UC Berkeley campus. Since its founding in 1969, the GTUL and the UCB Libra ry have sought to cooperate very closely in building complementary collections, particularly in subject areas of mutual interest for their respective scholars. The university library collects heavily in non-Christian religions (including Judaism), for ex ample, while the GTUL tends to concentrate on Christian denominations. It also focuses on doctrinal and liturgical issues, while the UCB library collects materials of a religious nature from a more philosophical or historical perspective. Grey areas suc has late Roman antiquity and the European wars of religion are carefully mapped out and assigned to one of the two libraries to prevent duplication, especially for expensive monumental sets. If serials cancellations become necessary in one or both libra ries, this too is coordinated to reduce duplication and preserve when possible the breadth and depth of the libraries' combined collections. The cooperation takes a very practical form in part due to the proximity of the two libraries: GTUL's primary cli entele (its students and faculty) are accorded use and borrowing privileges at the UCB libraries, and Berkeley students and faculty enjoy reciprocal privileges at GTUL. In recent months the desirability of renewing and increasing GTUL-UCB cooperation has become manifest, and discussions are under way now among administrators of the two institutions aimed at finding ways to expand and improve our cooperative activities. libraries: GTUL's primary clientele (its students and faculty) are accorded use and borrowing privileges at the UCB libraries, and Berkeley students and faculty enjoy reciprocal privileges at GTUL. In recent months the desirability of renewing and increa sing GTUL-UCB cooperation has become manifest, and discussions are under way now among administrators of the two institutions aimed at finding ways to expand and improve our cooperative activities.
4) How are cooperative agreements designed and supervised?
Generally Berkeley chooses its partners based on factors such as mutual advantageousness, ease of movement of materials, complementarity of collections, convenience to users, and reliability. This is one reason why the cooperative program with Stanford h as been so successful: both institutions provide a great deal of value to users in each of these categories. Berkeley's collections are older and deeper than Stanford's in many fields of the humanities and social sciences, but Stanford is better funded f or current materials, and its collection is far less heavily used than ours, making it attractive to our graduate students and faculty since our copies of materials are often already in use when needed locally. And as the example of Germanic studies in ( 3) above indicates, we seek to complement one another's strengths to permit one institution to rely upon the other for materials which are not in heavy demand to support its core curriculum.
In general, subject specialist librarians at institutions which have cooperative collecting plans design the scope and assign the responsibilities for the programs among themselves; they correspond and frequently meet with one another to modify the plan,a ssess its effectiveness, and to discuss specific high-cost materials such as large microform sets or expensive electronic databases. They refer requests for materials among one another and even assist one another's readers occasionally by providing refe rence assistance and bibliographic orientation to faculty and students from other institutions when they make site visits. It should be stressed that this kind of cooperative collecting activity is labor-intensive, and that our ability to participate ful ly in it is severely compromised by the drastic reductions of librarian specialist positions on the Berkeley campus in the wake of the Voluntary Early Retirement Program and other fiscal reduction measures.
5) Do some of the libraries and/or divisions within the Library collect more cooperatively than others? If so, why? Although the Library does not deliberately attempt to emphasize cooperative collecting in one area rather than another, there are some inevitable differences among branches and disciplines in terms of the proliferation and success of cooperative programs.
Science librarians participate routinely in cooperative collection development with the UC Campuses, Stanford and the California Academy of Sciences. Relationships between the Northern UC campuses and Stanford are particularly strong. We never subscribe to a new journal title without checking availability elsewhere. If available elsewhere, we wait until our demand is strong enough to warrant a subscription on this campus. We all share our cancellation candidate lists with one another and try to mainta in at least one copy of lesser used materials in the system. It is important to note however, that with the cumulative effects of the loss of purchasing power in all UC campus libraries, most libraries had to sacrifice unique low-use journals of limited value to be able to keep higher use titles. The ongoing lack of inflationary increases for the majority of the UC libraries has undermined many cooperative collection development agreements.
Thus far, cooperative collecting of science monographs has relied primarily on dividing up subject areas by institution. This is a very effective and simple means of cooperative collecting. In terms of agriculture and natural resources, Berkeley is one of three land grant universities in the UC system which share collection responsibilities. UC Riverside collects in the area of citrus production, diseases, and economics. UC Davis is responsible for anything related to veterinary and livestock research , and for agricultural engineering, which includes mechanization. Berkeley has primary responsibility for forestry and range management, and each of the land grants collects in a limited degree in the areas of agricultural economics, soil science, plant pathology, agroecology, and conservation of natural resources. These types of subject based cooperatives are replicated throughout the sciences.
There have always been curricular areas which are duplicated across campuses, and it has not been easy to identify when or how one campus could purchase an item which would satisfy the need among all campuses. If we guessed wrong and user demand required a copy at each campus, there would be many dissatisfied users before we could obtain the extra copies to satisfy need. Further, when an individual selector orders hundreds or thousands of titles per year, there has never been an easy mechanism by which selectors across campus could consult with each other on title-by-title purchases. This may be changing.
With the advent of the Internet, book jobbers now provide for internet ordering of titles. Thus, a selector at Berkeley will telnet to a jobber's site and order the title s/he wishes directly in the jobber's database. The jobber's software notifies the selector if a title is already on order for UCB. One of our jobbers informs us that he can also notify if a title is already on order within the UC system. Thus, selectors would be able to balance their expected usage at Berkeley with the likelihood it could be borrowed from another campus. Selectors will have information never available to them in the past and can make more informed purchases at the time of order. This new feature is up for discussion among the Systemwide science selectors at our Oct ober meetings.
We honestly don't know what the impact of this will be. The AUL for Sciences asks selectors the question "If you knew that a title was on order at another UC library, how would it change your collecting behavior?" Since no one has had this ability in t he past, we won't know the answer to this question until we've tried it for a while. But it represents a new era in cooperative collection development.
In addition to cooperation in monograph and serial buying, major effort Systemwide has been focused on acquiring and mounting abstracting and indexing databases in Melvyl. Because literature in the sciences has been growing exponentially since the 1960s, science librarians have long known that it was not possible to collect everything published in a subject area. Most sciences have a fairly large body of "grey" literature in the form of technical reports, standards and other formats which can be difficu lt to control bibliographically. So science librarians have built the best collection they can based on available resources, but recognized that identifying other resources at the time of need is an important additional step. Thus, easy and effective ac cess to scientific abstracting and indexing databases is a form of cooperative collection development.
Through Systemwide efforts of science librarians, the Melvyl system provides access to a wide array of indexing and abstracting databases. Melvyl use of Medline, for example, is highest in the country. Since electronic abstracting and indexing databases are much easier to use and more effective than print, primary effort is focused on electronic access over print. These consortial agreements allow us not only to share resources, but maximize staff time in developing cooperative training materials.
In the past, Systemwide controlled collections funds for the entire System. They routinely took money "off the top" to fund these databases and other purchases (the now-voluntary Shared Collections Acquisitions Program). Since collections funds are now provided directly to campuses, these types of cooperative purchases are in jeopardy. This is an area the Blue Ribbon Committee might wish to address.
With regard to cooperative activities in other sectors, all subject selectors in the University Library system are expected to analyze the desirability and practicality of cooperative programs and to propose them when appropriate; subject specialist libra rians are evaluated in part on their success in this undertaking. As the list of subject areas in (2) above indicates, the range of participation is quite large, though it does not cover the entire range of subjects which we attempt to collect. In some cases cooperation fails to take place for lack of a qualified specialist on the Berkeley campus: for example, while there is considerable enthusiasm for cooperative collecting in California in the field of Jewish Studies, the Library has not been permitte d to replace its Judaica Librarian since his retirement in 1989(!). Consequently Berkeley has no library staff member competent to direct a cooperative collecting program in Jewish Studies despite the potential interest in such a project.
6) What do you perceive the major benefits of cooperative collecting (to your division) to be? Cooperative collection development was originally envisioned as a means to allow great research libraries to extend the scope and depth of the resources which they offer their users by allowing institutions to build local collections of great breadth and completeness in areas of particular interest to their local scholars: it was a method to make great collections even greater. Over a period of many years, as the support for building great library collections waned on all but a few university campuses in the United States, cooperative collecting came to be seen more as a way of cost-saving by allowing one library to rely on another to collect in certain subjects than as a way of strengthening regional or even national collections.
At the present time cooperative collecting is chiefly beneficial to library users in that it allows us to concentrate on our core collecting mission support for Berkeley's own teaching and research programs while assuring that our users will have at least some access via our cooperative partners to materials outside our collecting mainstream. It would be unduly optimistic, in our view, to consider our present cooperative collecting effort as one which is chiefly designed to build rich and d eep collections for present and future generations of scholars: its goals are much more pragmatic and modest in the light of the inadequacy of the fiscal resources fueling the program.
7) What do you perceive the major drawbacks of cooperative collection (in your division) to be? The chief drawback, succinctly stated, is that it causes us to build our collections much more narrowly, and focus them on curricular support rather than on the broader, deeper needs of true academic research, especially research of an historical nature. The student of history here meant in the broadest sense has a voracious appetite for research material, and not all of those needs can be met by generic core collections of materials in English.
As we use cooperative collecting increasingly to absolve ourselves of the necessity to purchase materials outside the curricular mainstream, our collections become less conductive to in-depth scholarship and more akin to those of four-year universities su ch as those in the California State University system. As our collections become increasingly generic and homogeneous, we lose a part of the identity which distinguishes us from less luminous educational institutions, and which associates us with the sma ll confraternity of research universities which strive for excellence and exceptionality.
8) Is there some aspect of cooperative collection development to which you think this committee should give particular attention?
One important notion for the Blue Ribbon Panel to consider is the desirability of providing designated funding from the campus for cooperative initiatives. As core needs require more and more of the library's materials budget each year the consequ ences of inflation for library material prices which routinely exceeds the CPI there is less and less available for cooperative collecting. For instance, for most of the 1980s the libraries in the UC system set aside a specific percentage of their collections budget typically 1% to form a common pool of funding for cooperative purchases. As fiscal pressures mounted in the 1990s, participation in the so-called Shared Collections Acquisition Program became increasingly problematic, es pecially for Berkeley because of its vast range of collecting responsibilities, and it ultimately became a voluntary rather than a mandatory program. The SCAP program still exists, but is now capitalized on a voluntary basis and at a level which is far i nferior to that of the last decade.
Another idea which your committee may wish to pursue is the designation of cooperative funds specifically for digital library purchases. Although the Library spends less than 3% of its overall materials budget on electronic resources, and it has benefite d enormously both this year and last from an infusion of support from The Vice Chancellor's Digital Library fund, there is no specific funding for cooperation in this expensive and growing area.
And finally, your committee might examine the advantages to our faculty and students which would accrue from a return to the original concept of using cooperative collecting techniques to enhance and strengthen regional and national resources in highly sp ecific subject areas, rather than as a palliative for inadequate support for core curricular support collections.
We hope these answers will allow your committee to approach this complex issue with a sense of the overall landscape of cooperative collecting at Berkeley. Once again, we in the Library are at your disposition for additional information or for further di scussion of these important issues.
Susan Rosenblatt Katie Frohmberg Barbara Kornstein
James H. Spohrer Deputy University Librarian UL-Sciences AUL-Social Sciences AUL-Humanities & Area Studies