June 16, 1997


Professor and Dean Anthony A. Newcomb, Chair
Professor Henry E. Brady
Professor Carla Hesse
Professor in the Graduate School Daniel E. Koshland, Jr.
Professor Marc A. Rieffel
Professor Robert Wilensky

Dear Colleagues:

During the past several years the operating environment of the University Library has changed in profound ways. Many challenges confront it: the reduction of its operating budget, the result of University's recent fiscal crisis; the retirement of many professional librarians in the University's early retirement program; inflation in the cost of scholarly materials and the resulting decline in the purchasing power of the collections budget, despite increased one-time funding; and the need to accommodate the rapid evolution of technology for storing and retrieving information.

All of these developments cause continuing concern among the faculty about the future of our Library. They influence in substantial ways the services it can provide, the extent of its collections and access to them, and the technological innovation it may employ in its operations.

As a result of these developments, the Chancellor, University Librarian, and I would like the Blue Ribbon Committee on the Library to advise us on how the Library should respond to the challenges, choices, and opportunities it faces by proposing a set of principles to guide Library planning at Berkeley. The ultimate goal of this assignment is to enable the Library to fulfill its mission to serve the teaching and research needs of the diverse academic disciplines at Berkeley, both today and in the future.

I have provided as Attachment A examples of the policy and operational decisions we hope to make on the basis of the principles developed by the Blue Ribbon Committee.

In the course of its deliberations, the Committee will find helpful the strategic planning efforts for library collections developed by University Librarian Peter Lyman, as well as those conducted for the future of the University's libraries at the systemwide level, including the Library Planning and Action Initiative and the Digital Library Initiative. These are enclosed in Attachment B.

The Library's Director of Financial Planning and Administration, Michael Rancer, will be available to provide you with data and other needed information about the Library. My assistant Kerry McDermott will coordinate staff support as needed. It is anticipated that the Committee will complete its work during academic year 1997-98.

Thank you for agreeing to undertake this critically important work.


Carol T. Christ

The Vice Chancellor and Provost

cc: Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien
Chancellor-Designate Robert M. Berdahl
University Librarian Peter Lyman
Chair John M. Quigley, Academic Senate
Chair Leon F. Litwak, Academic Senate Committee on Library

Attachment A
Blue Ribbon Committee on the Library
June 1997

University Library Prospective Policy and Operational Decisions

Collections and Access
Resource and Budget
Scholarly Publishing and Copyrights


Collections and Access

What are the principles that should govern collection development?

What is the appropriate balance between collecting library materials and ensuring access to them?

How should the Library determine in which fields digital collections and network access to information can substitute for ownership of print collections?

How should the Library determine which fields to collect in breadth and depth, and which to collect less comprehensively and obtain through cooperative agreements?

How will the campus inform the Library about the academic priorities that should guide collection building?

What principles should guide the development of cooperative agreements with other libraries?


What are appropriate types and levels of service?

Should the current set of branch libraries be maintained or are there other service arrangements that would better serve the campus? For example, should branches be developed to serve academic clusters?

Resource and Budget

What would be a reasonable and feasible formula to govern growth in the collections budget?

How should inflation in materials for the various disciplines effect the relationship of the budgets for collections in various disciplines?

Are there ways to reduce operating costs to yield recurring savings without unacceptably reducing service levels? Would closing branches realize recurring savings? Would the digital library provide recurring savings?

Should the Library charge fees for certain types of services? What types of services might be suitable for user fees?

What principles should guide the consideration of entrepreneurial activities which might generate significant revenue?

By what mechanism can library patrons gain an understanding of the Library's resources and costs, and a connection to the priority setting process?


What principles should govern the Library's movement towards use of new information technologies?

Scholarly Publishing and Copyrights

Should the campus pursue new policies on copyright of scholarly work to preserve access and reduce costs?

Should the campus participate in consortiums to develop new models of scholarly communication and publishing?

If so, how should the campus enlist faculty support for these efforts?


Office of The Vice Chancellor & Provost | Carol T. Christ | What's New | Blue Ribbon Committee

Last updated: 07/10/97

Contact: Kerry McDermott