ULC Meeting Minutes for February 21, 2005


Andrew Dell'Antonio, John Kolsti, Jill Marshall, Charles Radin, Kenneth Ralls, John Slatin; Craig Burgler, Lisette Espinoza, Greg Harper, Blaire Knox, Angela Palmer, Candace Chui; Ben Streetman (dean of the College of Engineering), Susan Ardis (head librarian, Engineering Library); Fred Heath, Damon Jaggars, Sue Phillips, Kay Sewell; Jocelyn Duffy

The committee convened in the Alec Room of the Engineering Library, ECJ 1.300, at noon.

The next meeting of the committee will be on March 31, 2005, from 2-3 P.M., in the Barrow Conference Room of the Geology Building. (Note added by Ken Ralls: The previously scheduled March and April meetings of the Library Committee have been changed-the March meeting [date and time are somewhat uncertain] will include a presentation by David Flaxbart, Head Librarian of the Chemistry Library, and the April meeting will be primarily devoted to a presentation by Dennis Trombatore, Head Librarian of the Geology Library. In addition, there will be an extraordinary, additional meeting in April, with a presentation by Sarah Thomas of Cornell University.)

Engineering Dean Ben Streetman noted that there is research costing in excess of $100 million being done annually in the College of Engineering, and that the Engineering Library is at the heart of research and teaching in the college, and is important to undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and other researchers. He emphasized that students, faculty and other researchers rely on professional, reference librarians to help get their work done, and to know what their research is all about. He stated that he is intrigued with the notion of a single science/technology library for the campus.

Professor Radin asked whether monies for resources for new faculty could be used for library resources. Dean Streetman, noting that library funding is an obvious problem, said that start-up funds for new faculty are usually devoted to the faculty member's own work or earmarked for other concerns. The funding problem cannot be solved by taking monies away from new faculty, but needs proper investment by the University.

Ken Ralls introduced Susan Ardis's presentation. Susan Ardis distributed photocopies of a 7-page PowerPoint presentation she prepared for the committee; What if there was one science library instead of five? She began with looking at the work situations of the Chemistry, Engineering, Geology, Life Science and Physics-Math-Astronomy (PMA) libraries, which are generally running out of space for new books and journals, cramped for work space and student seating, and serving large clienteles as best they are able given their various limitations, including service hours. Also, the older building spaces they occupy are not ADA-compliant, nor easily altered.

Susan Ardis adduced a number of advantages to a single science/technology library. Among the advantages are quality study space, longer service hours (through combining service desks), presumably instructional space (only Engineering currently has instructional classrooms), and having interdisciplinary resources in one location.

Advantages for separate science libraries include quicker access to print materials, close personal contact with the serviced population, and a strong sense of association for clients.

A single science/technology library would require building space of perhaps 80,000 square feet, she estimated, and could provide better service to users as well as study, classroom, and meeting space.

Professor Dell'Antonio asked if there are any footprints on the north campus where a science library would fit.

Susan Ardis said that places are available but would require other buildings to be razed. (Note added by Ken Ralls: The Service Building on 24th Street and the Van de Graaff Tower between Engineering-Science Building on Cockrell Hall are two possible sites.)

Dr. Heath, observing that Susan Ardis's presentation is just the beginning of a discussion to see how the idea of a single science library fits the campus situation, wondered if a single science/technology library meets the program requirements. Perhaps a student services building was needed on the north side of campus.

Professor Slatin asked about current accommodations in the science libraries for handicapped and disabled users.

Susan Ardis replied that Engineering offers a staff member as a 'helper.'

Dean Streetman asked whether consolidation of science libraries is a trend in the library world. It is not, Fred Heath said. There are people who have been studying the issue who feel strongly for and against centralization. Undergraduates tend to be for consolidation while faculty resist the libraries becoming remote from their work.

A range of issues were discussed-faculty/student values, electronic access to materials, undergraduates and instruction, graduate student use of online materials, possible separation of journals and books, and computer labs-with Dr. Heath commenting that the University Libraries are not advocates of this idea of consolidating the science libraries, but need to look at the trade-offs, including redundancy in service points and staffing.

Susan Ardis observed that books are important to undergraduates, and many users are not fond of e-books.

She noted that the particular disadvantage of electronic resources is the loss of the contact with their users by the librarian, so that the librarian no longer knows who the users are and what levels of study they are at.

Professor Radin proposed a topic for an upcoming meeting. He noted the recent initiative by Google to scan large libraries. "What is Google doing?" he asked. Is the University of Texas interested in the project?