LAUC-B 2012 Fall Assembly
Wednesday, 28 November 2012
I. LAUC-B Chair Susan Edwards called the assembly to order.
II. LAUC-B Membership: Welcome to new LAUC-B members, Joseph Cera, Christina Fidler, Toshie Marra, Michele Morgan, Liladhar Pendse, Lydia Petersen and Jeffrey Sahaida
III. CAPA Membership: Jenny Nelson, Chair of CAPA, introduced new members Ramona Martinez and Susan Xue and thanked outgoing members Rita Evans and Jim Church for their service.
IV. Committee Reports will be distributed electronically and posted to the LAUC-B website.
V. Guest Speakers: Dean Carla Hesse and Professor James Midgley, Co-Chairs of the Commission on the Future of the UC Berkeley Library.
A. Hilary Schiraldi introduced the co-chairs and explained her role as staff to the Commission. She noted that the Commission has a website which includes a feedback form (http://academic-senate.berkeley.edu/issues/commission-future-uc-berkeley-library) and asked that LAUC-B members both look at the website and promote it to their users. She noted that the LAUC-B Executive Committee will be meeting with the Commission in January.
B. Professor Midgley thanked attendees for what they do for campus. He noted that the job of the Commission is to work with library administration to determine how best to resolve issues at hand. He spoke about his experience with the Library, noting that he is not an expert in libraries and was surprised to be asked to serve on the Commission. He has nothing but the highest praise for the services he has received from the library, especially in comparison with other libraries he’s used. He emphasized his close relationship to the Librarian at his subject library but noted that use is falling amongst his students. He is fully aware that the great services provided by the library might be considered a luxury but feels the university needs to think beyond permanent austerity. He gave us his personal commitment to work with us to address the challenges we face.
C. Dean Hesse noted that the Commission really needs to listen to the players. She feels the job of the Commission is to help the Library, specifically to help convince campus administration of the need to reinvest in the libraries. She thinks we need to think of the public nature of this university and library in different ways, asking, not only the state to increase its investment but, our alumni and students. When she accepted the charge she viewed this as a moment where the faculty could make a statement about the library. She is a scholar of the book and has worked closely with librarians throughout her career, nohing that she had created her career using Berkeley resources. She thinks the 3 million figure is a heuristic and that if we (the Commission and the Library) can make a compelling case we could get more money.
D. Susan Edwards then asked questions previously submitted to the Co-Chairs by LAUC-B membership
- The size of the library's professional staff, thus LAUC-B membership, has been declining for several years. Librarians now tolerate an unsustainable volume of work, and the necessity to assume multiple assignments for which we are not trained or experienced, as well as less time to engage in external professional activities required for advancement. At the same time funding to participate in professional development activities has been reduced. The assumption of many is that the population of librarians systemwide will shrink. What is your view?
Hesse noted that this is an issue throughout campus. She thinks the campus needs to hire more high level staff and to determine ways to complete more simple tasks in a more efficient manner. She feels that the value of the library is its collections and the research librarians who work closely with professors and that we need to optimization in the middle. Midgley supported what Hesse said, stating that Berkeley is exceptional and therefore our library needs to be exceptional. In his experience as a user staff is central to this.
- What do you see as the costs and benefits of Library consolidations? Will the Commission name names for consolidation in its report?
Midgley recognized that he is biased as an avid user of the Social Welfare Library, though he understands that many of his colleagues simply don’t use the Library. He stressed that the Commission is simply making recommendations. He would like to see a process of negotiation and discussion with the deans and chairs, noting that there can not be a one-size-fits-all solution. Hesse stated that the process has not been as good as it could be; she feels consultation needs to be part of the process and agreed that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. She noted that the Commission would be meeting with various constituencies to get a better view of the needs and wants of a broad spectrum. She also noted that she and Midgley had already informed the Provost that they would rather give him a full report than meet the deadline. She stressed the need to not just look at subject specialty libraries but also Doe Moffit, specifically introducing the idea of a research area for faculty.
- How can the Library support the academic departments, for example by taking the lead in data management, or preservation of unique materials, or by building collections that support particular research and collections that support cross-disciplinary subjects like energy resources?
Midgley stressed the need to develop close links between departments and libraries, noting that a continued dialog between faculty advisory committees and research librarians is vital. Hesse feels we need to develop some type of mechanism for ongoing communication between faculty and the Library, noting that both she and Tom Leonard sit on the Council of Deans and this might be a good venue for such discussion. However she also noted the need to bring the "meso-level" into the discussion, suggesting ongoing commiseration between chairs and research librarians. Lastly she identified technology as an enabler in this area, stating that we should look more at constructing virtual collections.
- Librarians are concerned about the decline in the Library's reputation, because we see its reputation as a significant element of our job satisfaction, particularly since UC salaries are not competitive with other libraries in the state. Controversial as rankings are, to increase our ranking we’d need to increase money for collections. How important is ARL ranking to you?
Hesse stated emphatically that it is the number one priority of the commission but also qualified her statement, noting that she finds the "official" rankings meaningless, what concerns her is that the faculty and students consider their Library to be exceptional. She stressed that research and instructional libraries are two different things and suggested the need to review and reinvent how to now bring those two functions together in light of new research methods and tools. Collection development and staff are very important but so is technology. She stated that there are only five top libraries in the U.S. and Berkeley is not going away.
E. Susan Edwards called for questions from the floor.
- Paul Hamburg made the assertion that we are in a transitional period in regard to technology, noting that selectors now have to choose between print and electronic publications in purchasing but are also currently trying to buy for different generations of researchers with different levels of comfort when it comes to technology. He also noted that, especially in terms of area studies, not every country is at the same level so sometimes librarians need to procure physical copies in collecting from certain areas. He thinks a conversation needs to take place about where people are in this regard and that this issue should be addressed in the Commission's report.
Hesse replied that there is an astonishing level of ignorance among students and faculty as to the actual cost of the Library. She feels the Library may have functioned too far from center and that we need investment from the deans. She feels strongly that there is not enough accountability on behalf of the constituencies the Library serves. Midgley noted that it is very much a charge of the Commission to look at electronic media and how it should be used. As a teacher he struggles with how his students are actually using the Library and how it relates to their wider study practices.
- Lynn Jones noted that Library staff sees between the disciplines in a way many academics do not. She noted that even if a dean is willing to pay for a library she’s not sure that’s the way to go as it might not match the priorities of the Library.
Hesse said we need to educate the deans and noted that the Library hasn’t been as empowered to do so in the past. She thinks the Library needs to defend itself and lobby for itself when it comes to allocating the resources the campus does have. She noted that faculty regularly say they need money for research but they don’t calculate the research support provided by the Library. Research monies are often just sitting there unused and she wants to find a way to use that money more effectively? She noted that by asking our constituencies to invest specifically in the Library (students could pay $1 more in fees and startup packages for faculty could include money for collections) we could get more monies for the library.
The Assembly was adjourned early due to a fire alarm.