Report of the Library Policy Task Force University of California Library Policy to 1980-81

About this document

In the following document you will find the official mission statement of the University of California Libraries; early recommendations which led to establishment of the Division of Library Automation, MELVYL(R), NRLF and SRLF; and the logical underpinnings of the concept that the University Library is "one library" rather than nine independent libraries with two storage facilities.

This report was commissioned in February 1974 by then-UC-president Hitch. The Task Force was asked to review and recommend University-wide Library policies with an eye to the next 5-10 years. This document is quoted heavily in the official Library plan entitled The University of California Libraries, A Plan for Development, July 1977, Stephen Salmon. Per UC Office of the President, the following document has not been superceded by the 1977 plan. In order to mount this document to the world wide web, some changes in format were required, although modifications were kept to a minimum. Corrections were also made to typographical errors which appeared in the original.


The University of California, like other major universities, is in the process of reexamining its basic library policies. There are compelling reasons for such a reexamination.

  1. The costs of library acquisitions, services, and facilities have spiraled upward more rapidly than general inflation. Estimates for 1974, for example, indicate that the cost of library materials will increase by almost 25%. At the same time, capital construction funds are diminishing in real value by approximately 1% per month. Over and above inflation, exponential growth has serious cost implications.
  2. As the University approaches steady state, campus libraries continue to grow. The vast increase in numbers of publications and the explosion of knowledge necessitate increasing rates of acquisitions to maintain collections in the basic fields of knowledge. Yet funds for acquisitions are running short.
  3. Library space problems are or soon will be acute on most campuses. In 1973, the University of California collection as a whole contained more than 13 million volumes. Pro jections for 1979 indicate that the collection will grow to approximately 17 million volumes. Exponential growth of collections and facilities, which can be sustained for a short time in a relatively small system, becomes progressively more difficult as the size of the system increases and cannot be projected indefinitely. At present, the University library system requires new storage space equal to the size of the Irvine library each year. It is clear that exponential growth rates cannot be continued in either acquisitions or expansion of facilities.
  4. Bibliographic access to the University collection is at present inadequate. As the collection expands, this inadequacy will become more and more pronounced. Experience at other universities clearly indicates that accessibility will worsen unless new and more modern techniques are applied.

Three major University-wide task force studies of library problems have been undertaken in the last two years. In 1972, an APPRB Library Task Force, chaired by Professor R.O. Collins, was directed to study library acquisitions policy. The Collins committee recommended that the UCB and UCLA collections should grow at the rate of four percent annually. The report contained no recommendation on acquisitions rates for the smaller campuses.

After wide consultation, the Collins report was set aside because, in a broad policy sense, the report's approach to library planning was insufficient since it focused only on acquisitions and did not confront the full range of difficulties which have resulted from exponential library growth. It referred to the UCB and UCLA libraries as "regional libraries" but in fact did not propose a regional system and did not embody a systems approach to library planning.

In 1973, the ad hoc committee on Library Acquisitions Policy, chaired by Professor Charles Susskind, made a further study of the problem. A formula approach to acquisitions was developed which, though it had its defenders, was not fully acceptable. Although there was some criticism of the numbers produced by the formulas in the Susskind report, the most telling objection was that the consideration of acquisitions formulas with which the committee was charged is not an adequate basis for a library planning policy.

On 4 February 1974 the Library Policy Task Force was appointed by President Hitch and charged with the responsibility of reviewing basic library policies. It was directed to concentrate on broad policy issues, to take a systems approach to library planning, and to confront the issues of exponential growth and regional planning. The President specified that the report of the Library Policy Task Force would be reviewed by the Academic Senate Library Committee, the Library Council, the Council of Chancellors, and the APPRB before final consideration by the President. If the recommendations of the report were approved as policy, detailed planning and feasibility studies would then be made by specialists in library operation.

The report of the Library Policy Task Force, which follows, contains a series of recommendations that constitute a new framework for library planning in the University of California. They are offered in the full awareness that they will lead to some increased library costs in the short run. In the long run, however, they are regarded as essential and are expected to produce economies and efficiencies not attainable under the present system. The Task Force recognizes also that providing complete bibliographic access and speedy physical access for all library users on all campuses will be critical to the success of the proposed library plan. It is assumed that the University can obtain the necessary resources from the State to carry out the plan and that the technology exists to make the proposed library system functional. These assumptions will of course need to be examined and tested.

Mission and Functions of the University Library System

The mission of the University library system is to facilitate scholarship, research, and developments based on the utilization of knowledge. The library system is an integral part of the educational process. It is essential to the quality of the intellectual and cultural life of the University in particular and to the citizens of the State in general.

  1. The primary function of the University library system is to provide support for the University's approved programs of teaching and research and to serve the needs of students, faculty, and other University staff engaged in these programs.
  2. A secondary function of the University library system is to furnish interinstitutional support for academic programs in other institutions of higher learning in California, both public and private.
  3. A further function of the University library system is to serve as a resource for other users throughout the State, region, and nation, subject to such limitations as may be necessary to insure that its primary function can be discharged effectively.

The Bases for Library Planning

  1. The library holdings of all the campuses should be considered as a single University collection rather than nine separate collections.
  2. The University library collection should be developed and maintained in close relation to the University and campus academic plans.
    1. Decisions about the acquisition of library materials should be made on the basis of the programmatic need for the materials. Patterns of use should also be studied as an element in development of collections.
    2. Studies of library costs should be made in relation to academic program costs. For all new programs there should be a rigorous examination of library costs involved, in both the short and long run.
  3. Policies for acquisition and operation, and the implementation of such policies, should be designed to make the most effective use of available funds. Mechanisms of communication, such as the University libraries' clearinghouse, should be expanded as necessary to optimize decisions about acquisitions. The greatest possible reliance on intercampus cooperation and resource sharing should be a central consideration in the development of all such policies and procedures.
    1. Complete bibliographical information about the entire University collection should be available to any users on any campus. Automation should be used as appropriate to provide adequate accessibility to the University library system.
    2. A direct-borrowing process to replace or supplement interlibrary loan should be established to enable users from one campus to borrow directly from another campus.
    3. A delivery system should be developed with the capability of providing delivery of books anywhere in the library system within 48 hours.
  4. Each campus should have a collection which, in conjunction with the other elements of the University library system, is fully adequate to support the programs of instruction and research approved for the campus. Each campus collection may have special strengths in its areas of particular program emphasis or specialization. Each campus collection should be adequate in size and scope for the immediate research, teaching, and learning needs of faculty and students of the campus.

Operation and Structure of the Library System

  1. The first requirement for establishing the unity of the University collection is to provide complete bibliographic access to all users on all campuses. Access should be to the entire collection. The development of plans to insure complete bibliographic access should receive the highest planning and budgetary priority.
  2. The second requirement in establishing the unity of the University collection is prompt and ready physical access to the entire collection. Circulation policies and practices will have to be revised to improve accessibility for on-site users and delivery to off-site users. Efficient circulation of library holdings requires that, in general, materials in high demand be located close to users. Other materials may be delivered from a distance. Books must move quickly to people and people must move easily to the collections.
  3. The University collection should be organized into regional systems. A regional approach to the planning of library facilities, services, and holdings must be based on the vital interests of both the participating campuses and the entire University library system. New regional facilities, which would contain specifically designated materials appropriate to their functions, will be developed as necessary. These new regional facilities will be developed in incremental stages based on the particular needs of the participating campuses. The regional facilities must be readily accessible to users, both for on-site use and off-site delivery. Essential on-site services may include reading stations, some capacity for browsing, duplicating equipment, etc. Accessibility for offsite use requires the capability for rapid delivery.

    At the present time, it would be logical to organize the University collection into two regional systems, one in the north and the other in the south. Work on the regional approach to library planning is further along in the north than in the south. A northern region system could probably be developed before a system for the southern region. The situation in the south is more complicated, especially in a geographical sense, but at present there is no persuasive argument for more than one new regional facility in that area. In any case, a uniform timetable for implementation of regional planning is not necessary.
  4. To assure that the new regional facilities serve the interests of the campuses, administrative arrangements that are mutually acceptable to all the participating campuses in the region should be developed. Methods of governance for each regional system should be determined by the participating campuses with the concurrence of the President. Private universities, campuses of the California State University and Colleges system, and other private libraries should be invited to participate in regional library planning at an early stage. The location of regional facilities could be on-campus or off-campus; questions of funding control and governance should take precedence over questions of location.
  5. A "campus collection" should comprise all collections organized for and open to general use on a particular campus. Campus collections should be based on the needs of campus programs and in general should contain materials heavily used in instruction and research. After careful consultation, a maximum size -- subject to periodic review -- should be established for each campus collection based on factors which may include numbers of students and faculty, mix of programs, etc. Campus library facilities should be planned and justified on the basis of that maximum size. As campus collections approach maximum size, they should be constantly reviewed and materials should be selected for removal. Such materials should either be deposited in the regional facilities or disposed of if retention is not warranted.
  6. Acquisition rates should be determined by a variety of factors (see below) but not by the capacity of the campus library facility. Irrespective of the question of retention of books on campuses, acquisition policy must provide for a flow of materials into the campus collections sufficient to keep them current and to meet the immediate needs of campus programs in both teaching and research.

    There are two major components in acquisition policy--budget justifications for library acquisitions, and equitable distribution of available resources.
    1. Budget Justification. By whatever means, vigorous steps should be taken to insure the quality of the University collections and the adequacy of acquisitions. There are no absolute ways to measure adequacy of acquisitions; therefore, a study should be made to assess the adequacy of budget requests for University library acquisitions. The study should consider other libraries and systems which have comparable arrays of graduate and professional programs, as well as such matters as the needs of academic programs and library users.
    2. Equitable Distribution of Available Funds. Allocations of funds for the purchase of library materials should be by formula; the formula should not presuppose a specific level of budgetary support; it should encompass ways of taking into account various levels of support and should reflect the following considerations:
      1. A percentage of the total resources must be used to insure that each campus receives an adequate basic allocation. The purpose of this allocation is to provide a minimum level of acquisitions for each campus collection.
      2. A percentage of the resources should be distributed to the campuses on the basis of program needs and degree configuration. This factor should receive the greatest emphasis in formula development.
      3. A percentage of the resources should be distributed to the campuses on the basis of the number of students and faculty.
      4. The Susskind report used the concept of an "access subtraction rate," to indicate diminished need for acquisitions on a given campus, on the basis of the campus's nearness to the Berkeley or UCLA library. The concept of a single University library collection with regional facilities eliminates the need for access subtraction calculations.

The initial formula should reflect these factors and, as much as possible, provide incentives for the emergence of a University-wide library system. It should clearly reflect the needs of the campus programs. In the future, as the regional library facilities develop, modifications of the formula will be required to take into account the needs of regional facilities and to provide allocations for these new units, as determined by the participating campuses.

Staffing Policy

  1. Staff Operations.* These will continue to be segregated into two major program areas: (1) reference-circulation, and (2) acquisitions-processing. Acquisitions-processing includes all activities focused on the acquisition, organization, and preparation of material for use. In the acquisition area these activities include such tasks as searching, procurement, receipt, accounting, claiming, binding, and storing. Processing activities include such tasks as cataloging, classification, transfer, withdrawal, typing, filing, card production, and file maintenance and marking. Reference-circulation includes all activities focused on the direct transfer of information or materials to the user, including information, orientation, and reference services; organization or reorganization of materials for special purposes such as reserve book services; circulation, stock maintenance, and turnstile control. These criteria are especially useful in the preparation of the University's budget requests to the State. They are not intended as a formula for the allocation of resources to the campuses, nor are they intended to restrict present flexibility of campuses in the allocation of their budgeted resources.
  2. Budgetary Considerations. Both the acquisitions-processing and the reference- circulation operations in the library require substantial numbers of people with professional training. However, as libraries grow, it is expected that certain economies of scale will result from the processing of increasing numbers of acquisitions; yet such economies are assumed to be offset to some extent by the increasing complexities of processing acquisitions into a collection of increasing size. Staffing needs for reference-circulation staff are based on a concept of ''weighted users" that will be used for the first time in 1975-76. This method reflects the application of an approach which will assign weights to various categories of users, (1) campus undergraduates, (2) campus graduate students, (3) campus academic personnel (faculty and other academic), (4) campus staff personnel, (5) all others (off-campus card holders). Projections will include adjustments for campus growth with operating efficiencies assumed for campuses with relatively large enrollments. It is the goal of the University's library system to automate the routine clerical operations as new systems are developed. This development will enable the existing staff to concentrate more on reference-circulation activities and result in providing better service to library users.
  3. Regional Facilities. Criteria will be developed for such additional staff as may be needed for the regional and cooperative facilities and services proposed above.

*(footnote: Library staff involved in the two major program areas are classified into three categories: (a) academic, (b) staff, and (c) general assistance. Academic appointees provide professional services requiring highly specialized training in the universities in support of the University's educational, research, and public service functions. These services include: (1) selection and development of resources; (2) bibliographic control of collections and their organization for use; (3) reference and advisory services; (4) development and application of special information systems; (5) library and administration and management; and (6) research where necessary or desirable in relation to the foregoing. Staff personnel provides support to the professional academic staff and require less training and expertise in library operations. General assistance personnel are temporary or parttime generalists (usually students) who can be taught in a short period of time the routine, clerical type of library staff activities such as shelving, charge-out functions, or filing of cards.)

Concluding Recommendations

The following specific tasks must be undertaken promptly:

  1. Cost studies of the proposed plans for bibliographic and physical access to the University collection (see III, A and III, B) should be initiated. These studies should include rough estimates of the cost of planning, development, any necessary construction, staffing, and operations.
  2. Information about the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago, the Minnesota Regional System, and other similar regional systems should be collected and analyzed as a possible basis for planning.
  3. Specific plans should be prepared outlining the steps to be taken to implement the proposed regional library system, and planning funds should be requested.
  4. Discussion of the following topics should be undertaken from the point of view of the effective operation of the entire University library system:
    1. To what extent, if any, could certain aspects of processing activities be standardized?
    2. Intercampus communications--bus systems, book delivery, etc.
    3. ULAP (University-wide Library Automation Program)--(a) Is ULAP the proper vehicle for developing the unified bibliographic information fundamental to the proposed-plan? (b) Should the Bibliographic Center be developed independently, or should an alternate system [e.g., OCLC (Ohio College Library Center), the Stanford BALLOTS system, etc.] be adapted for the University's needs? (c) Should the priorities of ULAP be clarified to make them consonant with the proposed plan?
    4. Should University-wide guidelines for branch libraries be established?
    5. When and to what extent should user fees be assessed and what would be the potential impact of such fees on intersegmental cooperation? On public attitudes?

Task Force Members

Hazard Adams

Gabriel Jackson

A.P. Alexander

A.A. Maradudin

L.L. Bennett

V.L. Perkins

M.N. Christensen

P.S. Saltman

E.H. Cota-Robles

D.S. Saxon

R.R. Dougherty

D.C. Swain

A.E. Taylor, chairman