Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Most Interesting of Experiments...

It's no secret that the attrition rate among Ph.D. candidates is huge. Given the amount of resources devoted to these programs, such a shortfall may be comparable to the problem of graduation rates for undergraduates for the welfare of universities. The question and the source of the proposed experiment is to figure out the cause of the higher failure rate in Ph.D. programs. This would be technically daunting to investigate. There are many factors that contribute to the success of a Ph.D. candidacy over a long period of time. There is no exit interview associated with failed candidates nor any attempt at assessment. Many reasons for failure to complete are of a personal nature and could not be released.

Yet, I suspect that possible answers to the question are well-known. The candidate is not smart enough would be one. The second one is that he or she lacks the determination to finish. A third would be external circumstances which can interfere. That's pretty much it for the most likely reasons. The fact is that most experienced faculty who have worked with Ph.D. candidates probably have a pretty firm sense of the most common causes of failure. If only this information could be communicated!

What if the underlying problem was not any of the above but was one of information management? Most Ph.D. projects, especially in the humanities and social sciences, involve processing and managing a great deal of information running into the hundreds of references. Working with them is not at all a trivial task and there is minimal guidance for this from faculty who expect the candidates to figure it out for themselves as has been done since time immemorial. Enter EndNote, bibliographic software designed to manage references as well as format them. By way of analogy, word-processing is a type of management software, yet the difference between it and a typewriter is enormous for the writing process. What if the same were true of the relationship between bibliographic managers and the ad hoc research methods assembled by individuals? The library could be at the forefront of high-level research that is the very summit of what universities produce.

Ambitious as this sounds, it is not even new. The program has essentially been done and reported on by Manchester Metropolitan University:

Harrison, Mary, Stephanie Summerton, and Karen Peters. "Endnote Training for Academic Staff and Students: The Experience of the Manchester Metropolitan University Library." New Review of Academic Librarianship 11 1 (2005): 31-40.

Is there a reason for the UC system not to investigate this?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Going Mobile

Social networking devices may be encroaching slowly but surely on library outreach. The UCDavis instruction department is exercised continuously in trying to improve its instruction. The most recent project had to do with a series of orientations for STEP students (acronym unknown) who go through a short summer course prior to starting their first year to gain extra preparation for college. The library is given one hour to provide an orientation. In deciding what to focus on during this limited time, the instruction staff decided to go retro in a sense. One theme of feedback for introductory instruction is that when all has been said and done about the databases and instruction technology, many students do not know how to physically retrieve a book. This basic task seemed like a worthy goal for the STEP instruction as well as a fun activity.

The next big question was verification. It is easy enough to send students out to all corners of the library on their treasure hunt, but how to check that they've done the job correctly? Having the students bring the books back physically was not an option when there are multiple classes to be run over several days. In fact, keeping the books undisturbed over this time was a problem all by itself. Checking the answers to a list of questions completed by the students was not an option either within the time constraints. So, how can the students give what in action films is called "proof of life" that they had found the correct book? Action films provided something of answer although the actual idea was described in the recent CARL conference. Have students take a picture of the book with their cell phones and show it to the instructor. This hinged up how many students had cell phones which they could use for this purpose. The answer, we found, was that all of them did. The exercise went very smoothly with almost everyone finding their book and the students displaying an extra thrill in using their cell phones with which they seem to be very competent. It's hard to forecast just how social networking technology can be used by libraries. But by adopting an alert, opportunistic posture, the odds are that librarians will find something and that these connections will emerge.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Summaries from the LAUC 2010 Southern Regional Meeting

All of this information was gathered at the time of the LAUC 2010 Southern Regional meeting titled, "The Future of Librarianship" on May 6, 2010. The meeting consisted of LAUC members from the southern UC campuses in addition to a few guests, such as the chair of the CPG committee, Matt Conner, and the current LAUC president, Lucia Diamond.

The meeting, which began with a talk by UCSD University Brian E. C. Schottlaender, was followed by a break out session of multiple groups. Each group was further broken up if a given topic had an excess of participants. We preferred to have groups smaller than 10, though some were larger. Groups worked on specific themes over a short period of time (about 45 minutes) during which librarians brainstormed observed trends, actions that might be taken as a result of such trends, and methods of measurement to ensure the success of those actions. Later we returned as a group to walk among all of the ideas written down to vote for what we though had merit. We had an extraordinary number of ideas that could be implemented. We saw that one way to use this information is to work backwards from the metrics discussed for each action and implement those that are doable in some sort of pilot fashion. More could be done with the remaining actions and trends over time as we uncover appropriate metrics.

Kristin Andrews, Ying Zhang, Rachel Shulman and I (Dana Peterman) used the original posters to identify those ideas that garnered the most votes. Those ideas that had two or fewer votes were not included here, though I did keep photos of the original data. We tried to make sure we understood what was meant for each suggestion, but it was difficult to do so. I later tried to make more sense of the original posters myself and placed them in rank order here. Each of the themes has been explained earlier in this blog, so I won't reiterate them here. You can see all of the photos of the posters at . The statements are followed by a number in parentheses that represents the number of votes that it got.

Twenty-First Century Skills
In this session, participants were asked to identify those skills that would be needed as necessary for the 21st century librarian.

Librarians have fewer opportunities to provide input on administrative issues that affect them and their work. (10)
Librarians find that they must be generalists as well as specialists. (6)
Librarians need more and more training on cataloging and other skills less related to previous job functions, and to develop new skill sets. (5)

Break down barriers that reinforce the hierarchical structure of libraries. (13)
Train all staff on emerging technologies. (11)
Teach people to be more adaptable and flexible . (11)
Build our project management skills. (9)
Teach technical skills, both electronic and computing skills, as well as cataloging skills. (8)
Teach people how to do marketing and outreach. (7)
Teach subject expertise. (7)
Teach people how to write grants and to fundraise. (4)

Measurements :
Learning and sharing among campuses on training increases. (16)
When there is a question as to the usefulness of a skill, skill set, or program, pilot studies are conducted. (10)
Usage data are acquired, posted and analyzed. (8)

There is more and more online instruction and digital content available. (9)
Libraries provide space for human contact .(4)

Create marketing and branding resources – University Librarians need a “marketing czar”. (17)
Create greater communication mechanisms. (15)
Partner with faculty to provide support that is integrated with their teaching. (13)
Create digital services at the point of need. (12)
Provide library space to the university to facilitate partnerships with faculty. (7)
Create a suite of email lists, working groups for collaboration on tutorials, and/or subject guides (LibGuides). (6)

Survey stakeholders to see how of the actions mentioned above. (10)

UC 1-Copy Universe
Economics make it tough to be part of shared projects. (13)
One copy doesn’t work for all materials, so there is a need for some redundancy despite our desire to economize. (6)

Communication is key and will help libraries and librarians to make better decisions. (26)
Better communication between technical services and collection development. (23)
Develop parameters for single-copy purchase. (12)
Improve distribution for shared collections. (12)
Improve e-document delivery. (12)
Distribute collections budgets across the UC campuses centrally. (12)

Enhance circulation/Interlibrary loan (ILL) to handle situations in which “1 copy” is shared among 10 campuses.(8)
Assess ILL speed. (7)

Evaluation ourselves for promotion
We getting so much busier that we have too little time for professional development. (8)
Must be both a generalist and a subject specialist to work effectively. (7)
We have a problem quantifying soft skills like collaboration (4)
Low salaries (4)
There should be a balance between criterion 1-4. (4)
Teaching is undervalued. (3)
Tedious bureaucratic procedures (2)

Communication between ULs and LAUCs should be improved. There is a perception that ULs are not present and are out of touch at local LAUCs. (18)
Evaluate and streamline internal administrative processes (15)
Make the librarian review and reward process more reflective of what we really do day-to-day. (14)
Should have continuing education (in order of preference) - Management/supervision (4); Project management (4). (14)
Collect and analyze data for decision making (12)
Expand the definition of scholarly to include web 2.0 contributions. (9)
Create more uniformity in how criteria are applied and which are expected of a librarian. (8)
Succession planning, mentoring and training are needed. (6)
Learn how to emphasize our own impact. (6)
Create reading/study groups to discuss professional literature and develop papers.(6)
Increase the use of social networking tools to increase visibility with faculty and students. (5)
Skills to bridge IT and public services and other functions. (5)
Recognize and support membership and activities in alternative professional development organizations (e.g. technical and subject specialties). (4)
Professional should a voice in what is taught in library schools. (4)
Leadership development skill training. (4)
Create a LAUC review committee to review ALL campus librarians to create greater consistency for all. (4)
Create a grievance outlet, which faculty have. (4)
Have the 10 ULs meet with us at an annual meeting to improve communication. (4)
LAUC should issue state-wide recommendations for things like the number of review letters required. (4)
We should read or re-read position paper #5. (3)

UC library hits or downloads of presentations. (7)
Amount of Librarian research in eScholarship. (4)
Amount of UC-wide sharing of review process. (4)
Evidence of interaction with review initiator for concrete feedback (and criticism). (4)
Existence of peer review groups for de-briefing process. (4)
Add staff-to-staff "reference" questions to statistics we keep. (3)

Discovery and delivery
Mobile technology in all areas. They are a part of the job environment. We will provide mobile devices for students to use. (21)
WorldCat local is complicated by how difficult it is to access electronic content and how difficult it is to determine local availability. (8)
Digital delivery of any digital content (e.g. UC pays for any request, like Questia articles). (6)
Problems reconciling local v. more union-like catalogs. (6)
UC wide, our instruction efforts focus on discovery. (5)
Patrons expect that electronic materials have replaced print. (3)
Challenge for us to help patrons in unfamiliar electronic environments via tools such as QP. (4)
Use of archives for undergraduate teaching and research. (4)
Using resource collection funding to support document delivery. (4)
Fee based delivery even though users expect free services. (3)
Federated searching that is less helpful than a user wants or needs. (4)

conduct user assessments both ethnographic/surveys to better define specific user groups and user needs. (13)
More formal union catalog. Get back to basics and get WorldCat to listen to librarians. (11)
Work on current shared catalog first to get priorities and use of money right. (9)
Generally support WorldCat with major improvements and simplifications. (6)
Improve ILL with all partners, not just UCs. (6)

Conduct assessments and analyze results - map to gaps/causes in collections, interface, user education, etc. (9)
Continuous user assessment studies as WorldCat local evolves. (4)

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Ultimate Theory of Everything

Not our name.... Yet, this was the operating concept behind a body of theory of potential relevance to librarianship. It comes far afield from the realm of military strategy. Librarians have little to do with guns, bombs, and airplanes; probably the closest approach to this realm would be encounters with government agents attempting to enforce the Patriot Act against which the principles of our profession tend to align us in opposition. However, librarianship now, as seen in our discussion of the future, has everything to do with issues of survival. For this reason and out of a posture of free inquiry, it behooves us to look at whatever may be useful to the profession.

To understand the theory, it is important to understand the creator. This person was John R. Boyd, an Air Force officer who is virtually unknown. He began his career as a self-proclaimed "Top Gun" style fighter pilot after the Korean War who had a standing bet that any opponent starting out on the tail (dominant) position on his aircraft would have his role reversed within 40 seconds. He never lost. After completing the definitive tactical manual for air combat, he moved on to make major contributions to the design of the F-15 and F-16 fighter planes which have played a dominant role in national defense for the last decades. His ideas continued to evolve beyond aerial warfare to grapple with the very foundations of military theory. Along the way, his naturally abrasive personality grew positively eccentric. Already disliked by the Air Force for interfering with their airplane designs (though they embraced his results), Boyd took to roaming the Pentagon in a tattered bathrobe and slippers. For almost no reason at all, he was capable of collaring four star generals and shouting criticisms in their face in a shower of spittle. His profane fighter pilot's language would make secretaries weep, and his own supporters speculated that he "did not have both oars in the water." Yet out of his ruminations grew a body of theory of conflict in any form, and some hints suggest that his ideas were fundamental to the fabulous success of the U.S. military in its two Gulf Wars (in military terms anyway). At Boyd's funeral in 1997, the Air Force from whom he was almost completely estranged contributed 11 minutes to his eulogy. Nevertheless, the work of this shadowy figure on survival deserves the attention of librarians facing an uncertain future in a competitive environment.

There is no definitive written record of Boyd's ideas. They were delivered in idiosyncratic and near incomprehensible slide presentations lasting up to 13 hours. Only smaller, suggestive documents and secondary sources remain. The basis of his theory was three scientific concepts: 1) Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem 2) Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and 3) Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics. From these he reasoned that any organization exists in an infinitely complex and dynamic universe. Thus, no organization can encompass within itself all the tools necessary to deal with the challenges it will encounter. To survive, the organization must continually adapt to its environment through a procedure which became formalized as the Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action Loop (OODA). In terms of the airplanes which were Boyd's original subject, the observation step involved perceiving a threat. The orientation step called for formulating a list of options for response--attack or flee, in which direction, and how. The decision step required choosing an option, and the final step was to execute it. With this formalism, the criteria for success was found to correlate almost exclusively with the SPEED with which the organization cycled through this process. In the airplane example, success did not depend on the speed, turning radius, range or any physical quality of the airplane nor the level of training, eyesight or particular attribute of the pilot, as one might suppose, but on the speed at which the system of pilot and airplane could run the decision cycle. The power of this theory lay in its broad application to any sufficiently defined organization whether it was the entire Marine Corps which formulated a new doctrine of maneuver based on this system, the entire military forces of the United States, or companies in the business world or sports teams all of which have found notable success with these ideas. The rhetoric surrounding the theory is more pervasive than one might realize. When former Secretary of State Colin Powell called for "getting inside the decision cycle" of terrorists following 9/11, he was virtually quoting Boyd's ideas.

So, the message for libraries to consider as they organize for the future is clear: Survival depends on the speed of decision cycling.

Boyd, J.R., 1976. Destruction and Creation.

Coram, R., 2002. Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War. Little, Brown, New York.

LAUC-SD Discussion on “Future of the UC Librarian” – July 13, 2010

LAUC members at UC San Diego met on July 13, 2010 to discuss The Future of the UC Librarian. The meeting was organized and facilitated by the LAUC-SD R&PD Committee. Prior to the meeting, we distributed the five topics discussed at the LAUC Southern Regional Meeting at UC Irvine. Along with the topics, we sent the trends identified at that meeting for each topic. During our meeting, we broke up into topic groups and the objective for each group was to 1) review the UCI trends and decide whether we agreed with them or not, 2) add any trends we thought were missing from the list, and 3) develop a list of actions. The results of the five discussions are attached.

LAUC-SD R&PD Committee
Karen Heskett
Patrick McCarthy
Annelise Sklar
Susan Shepherd (Chair)
Dominique Turnbow (Co-Chair)
Mary Wickline

TOPIC 1 –Preparing the current and future generations to work in 21st century settings

From the regional meeting at UC Irvine:
• Librarians are being given fewer opportunities to provide input on administrative issues that affect them and their work
• Librarians believe they must be generalists who can do all the new and old tasks done by librarians, but they are unable to do so
• Librarians need more and more training on technical (and management) issues to develop new skill sets

UC San Diego:
We agree with all above, and would include management training in the 3rd bullet as well.

UC San Diego Trends:

• Reference requests are dropping. We are having less contact with our users (chat reference excluded), but their reference needs are still there.
• Data curation will be huge. We need expertise.
• Scholarly publishing will increase.


• Training – the need for training will continue to increase.
o Management skills
o Technical skills (9)
o Cross-training within the library (7)
• Communication – we need to know more about:
o Campus trends (1)
o UC-wide initiatives (6)
o Our users needs and trends (1)
o And we need to information it while discussions are happening, not after decisions have been made (2)
• Collaboration
o Within the library (3)
o Across campus (3)
o UC-wide (3)

TOPIC 2 –Preparing the current and future generations to work in 21st century settings

From the regional meeting at UC Irvine:
• There is more and more online instruction and digital content available
• Libraries provide space for human contact

UC San Diego:
We agree with the above.

UC San Diego Trends:

• There is a push for tenured faculty to do instruction (lecturers have been laid off)
• Joint programs with other universities are increasing
• Increase in new undergraduate and graduate programs and degrees (2)
• Record numbers of students are coming into the library (7)
• The role of the university is changing. The undergraduate degree is becoming a commodity, i.e. a ticket to a good job. Libraries can help prepare students for the skills they will need at work, vs. academic skills and training received in their coursework. (15)


None identified – ran out of time.

TOPIC 3 – Acquiring unique materials assuming a UC one-copy universe

From the regional meeting at UC Irvine:
• Economics make it tough to be part of shared projects
• One copy doesn’t work for all materials
UC San Diego:
First, re the economics trend (above), it appears backwards to us. Economics (i.e. the budget) require shared project / one-copy universe.
Second, agree one copy is more difficult for some materials than others and consensus will be difficult.

UC San Diego Trends:

• Culture – changing the culture(s) will be the biggest hurdle. UCLA & UC Berkeley see themselves as the flagship campuses and are not willing to give up immediacy of local copy and are reluctant to carry lesser budgets of smaller campuses.
• Infrastructure – we do not currently have the infrastructure to support a one-copy universe. Processes are duplicative across campuses. We must change how we are organized.
• Technology – related to infrastructure, there must be a universal technology used at all campuses for collections & technical services
• Budget Disparities – in order to have a one-copy universe, there must be a “UC Libraries” budget that funds the universal system-wide (“Tier 1” level) one-copy. Funding must come from the top down in order for it to work.
• Interface – current interface is lacking
• Digital – as more resources become digital, one-copy will be easier to facilitate. Time is a factor in receiving materials from another campus (ex. Berkeley ILL is slow).


• Use UCLA & Berkeley’s desire to be perceived as the flagship campuses – make them central repository for shared physical collection, which would alleviate some campuses space issues.
• Coordinated weeding with validated quality (decision process) will be needed. Especially need a shared decision-making process on how retrospective weeding will occur. Cost & time to do weeding must be shared. SLRF closing makes coordinated weeding an imminent concern.
• Coordinated selection process across campuses is necessary – including across languages and formats.
• UC-wide shared approval plan for core collections that all campuses share (like history, literature). If no e-version of monograph, core print would be at all campuses with additional distributed copies available.
• Binding must also be coordinated system-wide with an eye to which copy is the unique copy that “deserves” top-quality binding
• Identify areas of expertise. Create more discipline-specific Tier 2 working groups (Latin American Studies has a working model).
• Decision rubric or process for determining when duplicate copies are necessary
• Shared print will require validating the quality of a copy and when & how it gets replaced, where cost comes from, how time is shared/used—must be a systemic process with the same criteria across campuses.
• Fund UC-wide resources from the top down. The one-copy available to all campuses must be funded first system-wide and not be part of individual campus’s budgets.
• Need a true system-wide federated search: across formats including the catalog, digital resources, special collections—include everything!
• Authentication & digital rights management across campuses must be managed.
• Knowing our community better is essential; promote awareness of system-wide collection strengths. Identify areas of expertise.
• Technical Services has expertise that should be utilized in facilitating this change.
• Special Collections has cultural barriers to digital repository (rights management, search interface lacking), but can selectively target what can be exposed. Even if it doesn’t circulate, serve up the metadata in federated search because there is value in knowing where it exists.

Topic 4 : Evaluating ourselves for promotion: what should count in the future

From the regional meeting at UC Irvine:

• We getting so much busier that we have too little time for professional development
• We have a problem quantifying soft skills like collaboration
• Tedious bureaucratic procedures (added this one to our list and got 2 dots)
• Low salaries
• Must be both a generalist and a subject specialist to work effectively
• Teaching is undervalued
• There should be a balance between criterion 1-4
UC San Diego Trends:

We mostly agreed with the trends above and would add the following trends:
• “hitting the ceiling” – need to consider decoupling Step 6 and “distinguished librarian” (11 dots)
• Things that should be given more weight in reviews
o Embedded librarians (7 dots)
o Liaison librarians (2 dots)
o Instruction (1 dot)
o Informal teaching experiences (e.g. consultations) (8 dots)
o Collaborating with faculty (5 dots)
We had a lengthy discussion about Criteria A-D (aka 1-4):
• Librarians are very busy and it is difficult to progress in B-D (aka 2-4)
• Appreciate that UC librarians can move up in salary without taking on more administrative responsibilities (12 dots)
• Appreciate that librarians can select activities within B-D (i.e. you don’t have to do everything)
• There is a perception that unspoken cultural and university librarian expectations impact reviews – (e.g. it is not clear what the UL really wants to see highlighted in files; there is an expectation to be involved in national organizations as one progresses through the steps, however it is not explicitly stated anywhere)

Going forward, we would like to see:
• Generally, we would like to see more formal goal setting. We discussed the possibility of tying goals to reviews, but realized there would be a lot of issues related to how that would be implemented before we would feel comfortable with it. (7 dots)
• Reward creativity and innovation (11 dots)
• Reward “soft skills,” such as collaboration, communication and project management (we think that a successful project manager has to excel at “soft skills” (13 dots; one comment that “soft skills” does not mean “easy”)
• Reward initiative, process and effort, not only accomplishments (10 dots)

TOPIC 5 – Getting stuff where it needs to go: Discovery and delivery

From the regional meeting at UC Irvine:
• UC wide, our instruction efforts focus on discovery (5)
• WorldCat local is complicated by how difficult it is to access electronic content and how difficult it is to determine local availability. (8)
• Patrons expect that electronic materials have replaced print. (3)
• Mobile technology in all areas. They are a part of the job environment. We will provide mobile devices for students to use. (21)
• Challenge for us to help patrons in unfamiliar electronic environments via tools such as QP. (4)
• Use of archives for undergraduate teaching and research (4)
• Using resource collection funding to support document delivery (4)
• fee based delivery even though users expect free services (3)
• Digital delivery of any digital content (e.g. UC pays for any request, like Questia articles) (6)
• Federated searching that is less helpful than a user wants or needs (4)
• problems reconciling local v. more union-like catalogs. (6)

UC San Diego:
Mostly agree with all above.

UC San Diego Trends:

• Funding: (1)
• Bypassing library to get resources (e.g. Kindle books and other materials available for micropayments) (2)
• What to subsidize? (1)
o Pay to a determined threshold
• Does the user pay?
• Enhanced tools:
o Union vs local catalog – which to enhance? (5)
 Rare books/focus is on unique material—how do we include unique local info in WorldCat Local? (1)
 Connect multiple versions (5)
• otherwise too difficult for users (right now, records for print and e from different vendors are all separate
• Simply unified
• Marketing/purchasing journal articles rather than the entire journal
• User expectation for delivery is high
• Users want to use their own mobile devices (rather than ones the library provides) (15)
o We focus on developing apps to organize materials (4)
o Promote better (2)


• Develop tools and interfaces for user autonomy (13)
• Library get out of the way (e.g., stop putting up barriers that delay access) (5)
• More awareness of faculty and student expectations (5)
• Learn more about use of textbooks: faculty, students, bookstores (5)
• Make the process for making a decision transparent (i.e., is NextGen Melvyl Pilot here to stay? Who decides and how do we know?) (1)
• Call things “beta” not “pilot” (11)
• Develop texting reference (6)
• Provide things to people regardless of their technology level (4)
• Set realistic goals (4)
• More empirical data about our uses (e.g., what technology they own) (15)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

UCIrvine Report

The Library Task Force at UCIrvine has issued a lengthy report which we can hardly fail to blog. Irvine faces the budgetary challenges that are familiar to the rest of the UC system and the profession as a whole, however, the recommendations take a surprising turn. Foremost among the ways to save money is in the area of buildings. The recommendation calls for eliminating 30,000 asf of space currently allocated to the library which amounts to the entire sixth floor of the science library in return for savings of between $720,000 and $1,000,000 annually. The money savings will be realized by eliminating the leasing fees from the library budget and transferring them to other campus units that will occupy this space.

This recommendation is particularly remarkable for its divergence from the experience of other UCs. At UCDavis for example, recommendations to reduce hours at the library branches was vetoed by the administration as failing to save money and hurting the students. Another effort to close the Physical Science and Engineering Library for approximately the same reasons given by the UCIrvine report was blocked by outrage from the faculty and their direct appeal to the chancellor. Some also speculated that the cost of closing PSE and transferring its collection would outweigh any gains to the budget. UCIrvine's plan will bear watching in view of these considerations.

Eliminating library space raises its own problems which the report acknowledges. Chief among them is the survey result that study space in the library is one of its most highly prized qualities for users, especially students. The value of space lies in a place of quiet to study, an area for intellectual exchange and a symbolic retreat. The report suggests reorganization of the available space and the conversion of other spaces outside the library such as the student center as alternative solutions.

The report also cites the need for improved document delivery of print resources. This correlates a submerged theme in other literature that the difficulties that users face with libraries are less in finding useful resources as is often mentioned but in the seemingly more mundane process of retrieving them. The case of print document delivery is one case of a more general problem of navigating among multiple libraries, interlibrary loan interfaces, and SFX links.

Finally, in the midst of budgetary woes, the report issues the somewhat surprising recommendation to hire more staff. The practice that has been in place (familiar at other UCs) has been to reorganize by closing positions vacated by attrition and consolidating staff, but the report claims that the process will be inadequate shortly if it has not already and erodes the library's effectiveness.

Thus, the report reverses two common themes of budget control by calling for a reduction in space and an increase in staff.

UCIrvine: Library task force report, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, 2010.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

We are not alone in our quest

It appears the future of libraries has become a popular topic across the library world, and even further out to the NPR internet space (specifically, their Monkey See blog).

Library Journal reported snippets of the ALA 2010 conference that dealt with this question "At Session on the Future of Libraries, a Sense of Urgency" The primary speakers Joan Frye Williams and Stephen Abrams held out for a bright future for libraries. The theme of change held steady, so we should anticipate more on that theme as the topic evolves.

On a more encouraging note, NPR's Monkey See Blog offered up a post sweetly titled (pun intended)
Why The Next Big Pop-Culture Wave After Cupcakes Might Be Libraries. The reason's why the author feels libraries are posed to become a pop-culture phenomenon articulates a side we don't often publicize (Libraries get in fights) as well as areas with which we staunchly identify (Librarians know stuff). Then there's our work with the public, which the author maintains could make for an intriguing reality TV show.

UCSD Libraries... status

LAUC-SD is holding a discussion on 13 July on “Future of the UC Librarian” regarding (1) Preparing the current and future generations to work in 21st Century settings; (2) The consequences of changing university pedagogy; (3) Acquiring unique materials assuming a UC one-copy universe; (4) Evaluating ourselves for promotion: What should count in the future?; (5) Getting stuff where it needs to go: Discovery and delivery.

The UCSD Libraries Strategic Planning Working Group is nearing completion of a draft strategic plan. ILL consolidation from multiple units into one unit will complete by September; document scanning continues in decentralized mode. In late May, UL Brian Schottlaender made a budget presentation to the Academic Senate Committee on Library, presenting our 5/10/15% budget reduction planning scenarios. He characterized their general reaction as "sober." The Committee Chair noted that the faculty will have to be made to feel the pain before they understand the magnitude of what the Libraries is up against. Campus decisions about reductions to the various divisions' support budgets have been made. Reductions are to be taken over the next three years and are not assessed evenly across divisions, ranging of 7% to 17%. Decisions about the budgets of the colleges will be made next, followed by decisions about "central service" budgets, including that of the UCSD Libraries. Since library staff know the budget reduction scenarios, waiting the campus decision about the Libraries’ three year budget is suspenseful.

July 1, 2010: Peter Brueggeman, UCSD Libraries

Friday, June 25, 2010

Researchers' use of academic libraries and their services: A report

As part of the reports in the "The Digital Information Seeker" collection produced by OCLC, this one offers a list of observations. Desktop computers are ubiquitous among library users. Users have high expectations for rapid retrieval and will not pursue a reference that is difficult to retrieve. Researchers place high value on electronic journals but little on other digital resources. Librarians and researchers interviewed placed a high value on libraries for the foreseeable future. Respondents also suggested a more distinctive brand for libraries within their institutions.

Consortium of University Research Libraries, and Research information Network: Researchers' use of academic libraries and their services: A report, Research Information Network and Consortium of University Research libraries (CURL), London, 2007.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Researchers and discovery services: Behavior, perceptions and needs

This is another in a series of studies by OCLC to investigate user behavior. The angle of this one is to compare users at the beginning of their professional careers who have grown up in a digital environment with more senior people who have had to make the transition in their careers. Overall, the report claims that the similarities between the two were more striking than the differences and separate profiles did not emerge. Among the highlights of the findings were that users tended to start with internet tools like Google and then fall back to more traditional resources. The major source of dissatisfaction with library resources was the difficulty of retrieval wherein desirable information was not available through subscriptions. There was some difference between the sciences and the humanities with the sciences showing a higher level of satisfaction with the resources available and a higher level of comfort with the digital world. While journal articles were the most popular resources with 99.5% mentioning it as their primary resource, monographs were also popular with 83% naming them as their primary resource. These percentages add up to more than 100%, so it's not clear how this is possible. The report concludes by saying that access was more of an important issue than discovery.

Research Information Nework: Researchers and discovery services: Behaviour, perceptions and needs, Research Information Network, London, 2006.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

After December There's Always May

This phrase was attributed to an anonymous German soldier at Stalingrad.... In the case of UC librarians, it relates to the May Revise of the state of California's budget. Coming off a year of budget struggles and cost-cutting measures, one of the major signposts for the budgetary future is the governor's May Revise to his proposed budget for the next fiscal year. This was favorable to UC although it was to be subjected to negotiation and revision by legislators. Nevertheless, a favorable May Revise was necessary since if the governor did not support higher education, it is unlikely that the legislators with their various constituencies would support it instead.

In the event, not only has the governor produced a favorable May Revise built around eliminating a one-time $350 million reduction to the UC budget from last year, but legislators have not opposed the governor's commitment to higher education. UCOP apparently feels confident enough to release a YouTube video featuring President Mark Yudof explaining the favorable aspects of next year's budget and encouraging more advocacy for the UCs by university staff to their legislators.

The YouTube video is here:

Have we really made it through the worst of the crisis? The irrepressible YouTube comments offer some skepticism about the president's announcement. The comments may all be true, however, it is still difficult to construe the announcement as bad news.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sense-making the information confluence

This puzzling title in a series of studies by OCLC on user behavior asks questions similar to those of a recent UC Davis focus group on reference service. Most of the answers to the questions were fairly predictable or as the study puts it, "contextually based." In seeking for information, faculty, graduate students and undergraduates all consulted their peers and made use of library and information resources with a somewhat greater tendency to consult peers at a higher level of professionalism. All groups expressed satisfaction with the internet (read Google) and the library although the library came in for complaints for difficulty in retrieving information--as opposed to finding it. The recommendation from those surveyed was to improve the library resources by making them more like Google.

Dervin, B., Reinhard, C. D., Kerr, Z. Y., Song, M., and She, F. C.: Sense-making the information confluence: The whys and hows of college and university user satisficing of information needs. Phase II: Sense-making online survey and phone interview study, Institute of Museum and Library Services School of Communication, Washington D.C. Columbus, OH, 2006.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Must Study....

We now see a second instance in what may be a trend of students responding to the UC budget crisis and reduced library services by making a demonstration about the library as place. In February, 2010, UCDavis students protested university budget reductions with a weekend sleepover in which they remained in the library from Friday until Sunday afternoon. Now, the L.A. Times reports that since June 1, Cal State L.A. students have been running a "People's Library" by setting up in front of the library doors when they close at 8pm and continuing through midnight.

Initially, the idea posed safety concerns and maintenance tried to drive away the students by shutting of their electricity. But as a result of discussions, the use of electric cords and other safety issues have been worked out, and the People's Library thrives. Organizers say they are surprised at the large turnouts on cold nights. Participants cite the need for electric power and quiet for study that are not available elsewhere for them. The library administration expressed sympathy but claimed that if the library were to extend its hours to accommodate students, services would have to be cut some other way to meet budget goals.

This protest and the similar one at UC Davis speak to the campus roles of libraries and seem to roll back attempts to minimize the importance of the library building as a part of its services.

Rivera, Carl. "Cal State L.A .Students Want to Study Past 8 Pm." Los Angeles Times 2010.,0,1873030.story

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Meltdown Librarianship

Here at UCR we are concerned with critical dimensions relating to the future of UC libraries not yet specifically addressed in this conversation. We will discuss two in this post, and others in the future:

* the global economic melt-down and what this will mean to us;

* why management should empower its librarian experts;

Our feeling is that coming to terms with the first and working towards the second will be crucial in moving forward effectively.

I. The Global Context

The global economic meltdown, and its local avatar the meltdown in California, has already had dire effects on the public sector. Its coffers are rapidly being drained. This has resulted in drastic cuts to public education at all levels. We in the UCs are painfully aware of this. The chances of a turnaround in the funding of the public sector any time soon are slim to none.

For the foreseeable future we will all be asked to do a LOT more with a LOT less.

What does this mean going forward? Specifically:

• Fiscal crisis means that centralization and consolidation of services both within and among UC libraries and CDL will be increasingly and quickly catalyzed on all levels. The Shared Print Initiative and Next Generation Technical Services are new projects taking a system-wide, consolidated approach.

• Similarly, competition among the campuses will need to stop. Campuses can no longer operate as separate fiefdoms. We can’t afford not to change the way we think. If we don’t realize much more substantial cooperation, many of our libraries will cease to function. Given the backdrop of the meltdown, it must be understood that vast savings could be realized if more meaningful system-wide cooperation and consolidation occurred in, for example, systems development, content acquisition efforts, bibliographic instruction development, and management roles -- much of which is replicated on each campus, largely redundant, and which would be much more effective if properly consolidated.

• The relationship between CDL and the campuses will need to be fine-tuned so that decision-making can be more clearly collective. Uncoordinated and redundant efforts in expensive systems development (NextGen vs. the III OPACs), for example, is wasteful, hugely expensive and will need to stop.

All of this means that re-training and development of new skill sets, a result of consolidation and centralization as well as keeping up with new technological capabilities and the evolution of our patrons into them, will have to occur at a level we have not seen before if we are to stay afloat, much less retain relevance to the scholarly and educational mission. Many of us will be doing new things. While change is hard, it can be managed, if properly done.

LAUC must play a role in order to ensure the best possible outcome - and the time to start is now.

II. Flattening UC Library Management

In order for our libraries to transmute less into more, becoming nimbler, smarter, and more effective in the process, we believe that management will need to become flatter, more transparent, more capable of taking calculated risks, more cooperative with other libraries and CDL, and generally better able to empower library/librarian expertise at all levels.

Why flatten the management structure so that all librarians are empowered?

Because we have the experience and the expertise. Because two heads are better than one. Because problems arise in an instant, and solutions will have to be devised and implemented in real time.

LAUC should help re-think UC Library management so it can become more effective by taking input from all levels of library management and staff, and consulting outside experts as proves valuable, in order to develop new, more effective and empowering modes and models. We are not the only major library system facing these challenges. That doesn’t mean we should sit back and wait for others to solve our problems.

UCR definitely has more to say. But we know that lengthy blog posts turn people off.

We leave you with this -- More than ever before, it is highly recommended that LAUC cohere, now, as the substantial advisory body it was meant to be; that it begin to take risks on the level of the challenges affecting us; that it address sensitive, core issues systematically; and, that it make substantial contributions towards developing sensible models of the future for UC libraries and librarians. It is important to note that it is within LAUC’s purview to advise not only ULs but Provosts, Chancellors and Regents as well. LAUC has a critical and unique perspective, and it is uniquely positioned to be a major contributor in the dialogue on UC Library futures. Lets rise to the occasion.

Heidi Hutchinson, Steve Mitchell, John Bloomberg-Rissman

Saturday, June 12, 2010

No More Mr. Nice Guy

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that in the face of a 400% price increase by the Nature Publishing Group (NPG), the University of California has refused to accept the offer and without renegotiation may initiate drastic action including the suspension of subscriptions to all 67 journals, including Nature, published by the NPG. Furthermore, the California Digital Library (CDL) will initiate a boycott by UC faculty of publishing in any of those journals. UC faculty have a strong record consisting of thousands of articles contributed to the journals under discussion. With one of the largest journal publishers squaring off against the largest university system in the country, the case is seen as an important test of leverage in forming relationships between libraries and universities and information providers.

Howard, Jennifer. "UC Tries Just Saying No to Rising Journal Costs." The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 12 2010.

Friday, June 11, 2010

WorldCat Local at the University of California: Usability Testing: Round Two, Fall 2009

As the name suggests, this report documents usability testing by NGMTS on WorldCat Local. The material is extremely detailed about moving a particular button here or there. Generally, one gets the impression that NGMTS is indeed addressing the issues of accessibility of electronic materials which loom large in library literature. The report itself states: "The most significant finding is that access to electronic resources is very substantially improved compared to our first round of Next Generation Melvyl Pilot tests, due largely to analysis and recommendations provided by UC about the priority of links."

Arcolio, Arnold, and Sara Davidson. Worldcat Local at the University of California: Usability Testing: Round Two, Fall 2009, 2010.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ghostlier Demarcations: Large-Scale Text Digitization Projects and Their Utility for Contemporary Humanities Scholarship

This report takes a closer look at the prospects for "digital humanities," a catchphrase embracing the potential for digitization to influence a large fraction of academic disciplines. In essence the promise of digitization lies in the electronic reproduction of full-texts that allows rapid access, searching, and combining of data. With language as its object of study, the humanities can benefit enormously from digital technologies that can speed up the analysis of language.

The study shows that the promise of digitization in theory is butting up against a number of barriers. Some are technological. Among the digitized collections in existence, it is easier to find works prior to 1923 than afterwards because of copyright conditions. There are problems with the quality of scanning stemming from the limitations of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. Many documents are available in snippets. Collections do not overlap as much as one might suspect. In addition, there are financial restrictions on libraries. However promising the technology might be in future, there is insufficient funding available now to address the limits of digitization. It further appears that there are deeply ingrained cultural patterns in humanities research based in the use of print resources. For these reasons, the report, for the foreseeable future sees a mixture of print and electronic resources instead of a wholesale conversion to digitization.

Henry, Charles, and Kathlin Smith. Ghostlier Demarcations: Large-Scale Text Digitization Projects and Their Utility for Contemporary Humanities Scholarship. Washington D.C.: Council on Library and Information Resources, 2010.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

On the Cost of Keeping a Book

This article purports to respond to the claimed objection of many librarians to the cost of storing digital materials. The article proposes instead that the cost of a print collection is much larger than supposed and furnishes an argument in those terms for a migration to digital materials.

The method used in the paper is reminiscent of a professor I had in library school who stated that after years of work in the profession she had determined that administration was the place to be because this unit made things happen. It did so by having command of the budget, and the way to use a budget most effectively, she said, was to figure out how to price everything. If it moved it had a cost; if it didn't move it also had a cost. In reviewing costs for a print collection, the report makes the point that is becoming commonplace in discussions of collections that preservation (low cost) through high density storage is inversely related to access. If you preserve something, it is cheaper but less available. Should you decide to circulate an item in remote storage, the cost is greater than if the item had been kept in a collection. So a gray area of expense is figuring out some means of determining the circulation of items so as to store them appropriately. Incidentally, Brian Schottlaender, UL at San Diego, addressing the Irvine assembly, cited one study that claimed that having 11 print copies of an item in existence was the optimum number for balancing accessibility and permanence....

The report goes over costs of maintenance, cleaning of facilities, and staff as a function of facility size. There are also involved financial calculations such as the claim that an item that costs $3.00 per year to store in current dollars, costs $100 to store in perpetuity because of current federal interest rates.... The various calculations require a better head than mine to understand in the time frame available. As a subjective impression, the discussion has the same glib erudition one sees in videos of various executives hauled before the public to explain why their management was way off base and their assumptions dead wrong. However, the citations of various studies in support appears to be in order. It's a substantial document worthy of consideration.

Courant, Paul N., and Matthew "Buzzy" Nielsen. "On the Cost of Keeping a Book." Washington D.C.: Council on Library and Information Resources, 2010.

Can a New Research Library Be All-Digital?

In an introductory piece to the collection containing this article, Charles Henry, president of the Council on Library and Information Resources, adopts a stratospheric perspective on the historical development of information. Citing the work of Stephen Toulmin, Henry proposes that we are at moment of critical change from an information ideal of Platonic abstractions that arose at the dawn of the Western intellectual tradition, to a new age in which information is dependent on circumstances and contingencies.

With this as its starting point, the article in question takes digitized information as one species of the new trends and explores its viability by speculating on whether an all-digital library would be possible now. The study that unfolds is a collection-centered evaluation of library services in the future. In terms of collection building, there is a critical divide between books and articles. Articles are, to a large extent already, in digital form already, and there is no reason why they should not transfer almost entirely into that format. Indeed, ease of retrieval through multiple interfaces, windows, and steps in the current SFX technology is a problem that has perhaps not been fully addressed by librarians--certainly not in our discussion. Yet, there is no reason to think that technological fixes for these problems will be available in short order. Books are much more intractable. Currently, the e-book technology has proven unattractive for numbers of independent reasons. These include the fact that publishers do not make them available through interlibrary loan, thus making them much less accessible than print now. The technology of readers of e-books is limited with many problems adapting to various kinds of formats. Readers are currently expensive and lack features for annotating text which many patrons want. A much cited study at Princeton University found e-books unpopular for these reasons. Supposing that these immediate technological problems could be solved, readers do not allow the same ease of sustained reading as print books, nor the ability to have multiple books open simultaneously, nor the capacity to scan. There are also cultural barriers from faculty who are attached to printed books and librarians who are unable to adapt their workflows and practices to processing e-books.

A concern that embraces all forms of digital information is their permanence, an issue that is central to the identity of libraries which, from their inception, were regarded as repositories of information. Supposing that books could be transferred into digital form, how can their permanence be guaranteed? Access is as uncertain as the duration of contracts until ultimately lies with the information provider. The material durability of the new form of information is unknown as well as that of the reading technology.

The access and cost of digital information has formed a significant tension between information providers on the one hand who wish to maximize their profits and libraries on the other which wish to maximize use (at minimal cost). The drive to resist the demands of information providers is one force behind the organization of libraries into consortia who can demand prices for journal subscriptions as well as e-books.

Questions of cost and accessibility have also promoted an uneasy and nascent relationship between faculty and librarians. Faculty, under continual pressure to publish have found the opportunity diminishing as peer-reviewed print journals get more selective (as a result of having their market share squeezed out by digitized information). Digital information does not yet have the same authority in the academy. In theory, the opportunity exists for universities and librarians to circumvent information providers by self-publishing in digital or print form. Yet, there are barriers to this too. On the faculty side, there is a resistance to any outside element involving itself in the practice of scholarship and questions of authority. On the library side, the technology, expertise and organization do not yet exist for digital publishing.

In terms of building design, a digital collection implies that library space will be much reduced. There is simply no reason for the extensive space required by a physical collection with the significant cost of upkeep.

The reduction of physical space implies a reduction in personnel. The paper sees the public services staff significantly reduced and fused with technical specialists who will be able to present digitized information in new ways and make it more accessible to users. The outlook for technical services is more grim. The centralized cataloging and metadata services established and a lowered standard of "good enough" adopted, there will be no place for technical services as we know it.

A digitized collection also has implications for patrons. The sciences are seen to be much more advanced in the use of digital information than the humanities which are characterized as being "on the same trajectory" but not as far along. For one reason, the humanities, practically and philosophically, are much more attached to books for which digitization is currently more difficult. This difference between academic areas is readily apparent to any teacher of EndNote, a bibliographic manager, for whom the students are overwhelmingly from the sciences. Could it be that the near future of librarianship will lie with the humanities?

The paper closes with a review of case studies featuring California's own UC Merced and Cal State Channel Islands campuses.

The prospects held out by the paper are not reassuring, at least not from the vantage point of stability. But they are not without a silver lining. Clearly librarianship is located at a nexus of great need by many inter-dependent constituencies. Information providers, for all their exasperating prices need librarians to disseminate information. Librarians need digitization in the face of shrinking budgets. Researchers need information. Nobody is in charge of the landscape that is opening up under these conditions. However, one constraint of the interesting times in which we live is that a passive attitude is not an option. If librarians do not take steps to determine their fate, some other interested party will do it for them. As the saying goes, "Power goes to those who know what they want." And it is only by much greater organization and unity that librarians will gain the self-awareness to find the goals they want and develop a machinery for reaching them.

Spiro, Lisa, and Geneva Henry. "Can a New Research Library Be All-Digital?". Washington D.C.: Council on Library and Information Resources, 2010.

Monday, June 7, 2010

NGTS Phase One Team Reports

Lo and behold. In thinking about the future of the UC libraries in all their ramifications, one finds that much of this work is already being done. And it is a part of the work of streamlining and coordinating the system we work in to make ourselves aware of these initiatives and avoid duplicating them. Specifically, it is worthwhile on the blog to report on the progress of Next Generation Technical Services (NGTS), a project so large that it is easy for an individual librarian to perceive it as "present everywhere and visible nowhere." So a few words on the purpose of NGTS and its progress to date are in order.

NGTS describes its goal as: "[transforming] the technical services processes that acquire, describe, and preserve the wide variety of information resource types in the UC collections." This charge embraces approximately our discussion areas (2) Information Providers (5) Collections (6) Library Networks. Some more specific goals for NGTS out of a long list include:

-Speed processing throughout all technical services functions

-View technical serves as a single system-wide enterprise

-Define success in terms of user's ability to easily find relevant content

The point about ease of user accessibility is one that has loomed large in the literature and has not received a great deal of attention from our discussion thus far.

The NGTS effort which remains in the early stages is organized in a complicated structure of various areas and task forces. As of February 16, 2010, NGTS issued its "Phase One" reports consisting of summaries of the "environmental scans" conducted by its task forces. This material has issued in four recommendations.

Recommendation 1: Develop a financial infrastructure that facilitates intercampus business transactions in support of collaborative and systemwide processes and purchases.

This is acknowledged as the "major barrier" to moving ahead. Currently another task force to pursue this problem is being formed out of various stakeholders.

Recommendation 2: Develop an operational infrastructure and technical services that can function at an enterprise level in support of efficient, non-redundant, and collaborative collections services.

All-important here is the sense of "enterprise level" which the report itself describes as "the most important aspect of this recommendation." Regrettably, the sense of this term is not entirely clear from the report. It appears to be defined in opposition to both "isolated and overly explicit actions" by individual campuses and "systemwide ILS" which would not furnish the "optimum response." Enterprise level operations appear to refer to a kind of middle ground or idealized situation of thinking globally and acting locally. As the report puts it, "enterprise level technical services systems that share a common database that would enable greater efficiency and effectiveness." The sense of the term "enterprise" further suggests a kind of initiative and creativity at the local level. To pursue this, another task force is being charged to study various scenarios.

Recommendation 3: Redefine baseline information access for materials in non-Roman languages, special collections, archives, and digital formats with the focus on end user needs and effective and efficient processes. Propose new modes for organizing and providing access to these materials. Focus on outcomes that provide access to materials thtat are currently in cataloging backlogs.

The report claims that a standard of "good enough" is adequate for the availability of non-Roman materials which now constitute a large backlog of collections--presumably because of the difficulty in translating them. To this end, the report suggests new, more streamlined bibliographic descriptions that will take less time to process. A task group is being formed to study this matter.

Recommendation 4: Coordinate NGTS activities with the work of SOPAG and the Collections Development Committee in developing strategies for re-visioning collection development for the 21st century. Ensure that all forms of digital materials are included.

NGTS recognizes the need to avoid duplication! Accordingly, NGTS defers collection development policy to the Collections Development Committee (CDC). NGTS's specific role will involve "redefining, acquisitions, descriptions, and preservation policies and workflows." In other words processing the materials that the CDC decides to collect. As its action item, NGTS proposes to monitor the CDC and contribute where appropriate.

Next Generation Technical Services. 21st Century Emerging Resources: University of California, 2010. /uls/ngts/docs/Emerging_0310.pdf

NGTS Executive Team. Next Generation Technical Services - Next Steps: University of California, 2010.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Social Networking Arrives

Both UC Berkeley and UCSF have launched programs for accessing their websites from small mobile devices to increase accessibility to their collections. UCSF offers a range of capabilities for patrons accessing remotely. UC Berkeley allows patrons to search the library catalog with their cell phones and copy citations directly into the phones. More about each program can be found here:


UC Berkeley

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

UC Merced: Discussion of the Future

When LAUC Merced met in April 2010, we had a great discussion on the future of libraries. As builders and managers of the first research library since the dawn of the information age, we believe UC Merced librarians bring an interesting perspective to any discussion on this topic. We are a library of the future. In fact, our library motto is, Not what other research libraries are, what they will be. What makes us a library of the future?

When the founding librarians at UC Merced drew up plans for the library, they seized the opportunity to design a building and an organization that could take full advantage of modern technologies and systems. From the outset, they knew that they could not afford to build a new library based on old traditions. Were they nostaligic about the reference desk that would never be? Were they wistful, knowing that the print monograph collection would never equal that of UC Berkeley or UCLA? No matter the answers to those questions - they didn't have a choice because the budget wouldn't allow for these luxuries.

To illustrate -- Imagine that you are shopping for a house. You are drawn to a charming bungalow that reminds you of the one you grew up in. It has a mature landscape and a mailman who delivers letters to a slot by the front door. Yes, the place has character. You feel at home there. It's comfortable. But can you afford to live in a house with ancient wiring, roots in the plumbing and vintage insulation?

Your other option is to build the home of your dreams. You have complete freedom of design, but a limited budget. You face many difficult decisions. What is essential? What can you live without? How does your modern lifestyle influence your design decisions? Will your design scale when your household grows? And can you live with the fact that the trees won't provide shade for a few years and that the mail will be delivered to a community box halfway up the street?

While building a library of the future from scratch may be easier than remodeling an existing one, in each case, it requires an acceptance of giving up some things to get other things. For example, at UC Merced, librarians knew from the outset that they could not afford to staff a reference desk. Abandoning the traditional model, UC Merced relies on well trained student assistants and paraprofessionals at the services desk, chat reference, and research consultation appointments with librarians to provide quality reference. We have collected data from our campus that supports user satisfaction with chat reference. This assessment, as well as system wide data suggesting that 24/7 chat is becoming one of UC's busiest reference points gives us confidence that we are on the right track, and serving our community well. We acknowledge that there will be some not served without a reference desk. The new model is not perfect, but it is good enough and it is mandated by fiscal realities.

Our library is futuristic in that more than 85% of our books are electronic. There has been a steady march to the use and acceptance of ebooks in academic libraries despite the imperfections of the platform. Why? The advantages of electronic access are obvious, but there is also the reality that libraries are running out of room. The SOPAG Task Force on UC Libraries Collections Space Planning Report makes it clear that we must reduce the system wide growth rate of print collections. Ebooks are part of the solution to this critical space issue. We recognize that not everyone will be well-served by ebooks. But given the environment, we opt for ebooks because this platform will provide information to most of our users most of the time. Ebooks will continue to evolve and improve only if we are willing to use them and create a market that will encourage publishers to adopt Springer-like usability features. Ebooks are not perfect, but they are good enough and getting better.

Our library is only five years old and our shelves half empty, but we share system wide concerns about space. We enthusiastically support initiatives to eliminate duplication in the UC collection and to develop models that will allow shared print acquisitions and the management of shared collections. UC Merced fully embraces and operates on the concept of one University of California Library Collection. Yes, we rely on our sister campuses to fill in the gaps of our young library, but we also make a significant contribution to the shared UC collection. In fact, for every ten books we borrow from other campuses, we loan seven. Surprised? In what can only be characterized as collection development of the future, Jim Dooley, aka the collection department, uses YPB and faculty requests to develop a highly relevant print collection that actually circulates. Much of Jim's success can be attributed to early faculty buy-in of the collection model and the library/faculty relationships cultivated in the ensuing years since the opening of the campus. Our collection model required that we give up the tradition of highly specialized collecting by subject bibliographers. We recognize that it is not perfect, but it is good enough and we believe that it will work on other campuses in the UC system.

The collection development model at UC Merced is a great example of our organizational philosophy which suggests that librarians should be managers who spend their time working on projects and innovations that have a big payoff. Librarians of the future don't have time to do repetitive tasks, i.e. most collection development which can be outsourced, and most reference desk questions which can be handled by other staff. The skill set of librarians must evolve with the current demands of the library environment. That means that librarians must be continually willing to master new technologies, develop new work flows and learn skills related to project management. The organizational culture at UC Merced supports this philosophy by investing in the professional development of librarians who are expected to manage and lead.

When we speak about the innovative practices of our library it's not unusual for our UC colleagues to listen politely and then dismiss what we're doing, suggesting that it would never work in a bigger library. With all due respect, we disagree. While we expect to add more librarians and staff as our campus grows, we do not expect significant changes to our model. We understand that it was much easier for us to build a library of the future from scratch than it would be to retrofit an existing library structure or organization. But perhaps our model can be useful to other campuses as they move forward and make difficult decisions about what they are willing to give up to become libraries of the future. We welcome your questions and comments.

Lightning Tech Talks

The LAUCD Program Committee at UC Davis recently held a program (5/28) of Lightning Tech Talks to highlight new technologies among librarians. The format, allowing 5 minutes for each presentation and questions, was based on the recent trend in conferences for "Pecha Kucha" a Japanese term translated literally as "chit-chat." It is designed to cut through padding and present information rapidly and informally. Less indeed proved to be more as the hour designated for the event was filled to bursting with presentations and questions. In light of the professional calls for social networking and other forms of communication technology, it was interesting to view the tools used by librarians. As a general observation, it appeared that librarians are indeed active and innovative in their use of technology. Tools included a use of Google Forms as a spreadsheet; innovative uses of twitter; tools for arranging and holding meetings over distances, time zones, and language barriers; debugging tools for web pages; cataloging tools and more. A link to the event is provided below. However, much of it had to do with professional work and communication between other professionals, a breakout technology to interact with the vast activity of social networking among students and patrons did not appear and has yet to be found.

A wiki page for the event can be found at:

Friday, May 28, 2010

Admin Strikes Back

In response to the publication that was the subject of the last post, "The Library in Crisis," the administration of the UC Davis library wrote their own statement of the case. Such a specific engagement of issues is not common in an atmosphere of conflicting policies and budgetary claims. In compressed form, the responses to the statements of the original document are as follows:

1. UCDavis has plunged in the ARL rankings from 25 to 60 where other UC libraries have maintained or improved.

ARL rankings do not tell the full story and must be considered in the context of the institution. Also, most of the other UC libraries have declined in rank in the same time period.

2. UCDavis's budget should be larger than other campuses because of its diversity of disciplines.

The proportion of lab science at UC Davis compared to other campuses has declined suggesting that UC Davis's requirement for a relatively larger library budget has decreased. Moreover, the UC Davis library has gathered a reserve fund of money for special needs.

3. Insufficient support for the Level 5 collection in Enology.

There is no backlog in purchasing materials for this collection.

4. Lack of essential titles for history and delays in interlibrary loan.

Some titles were omitted as part of clerical error during a shift in approval plans, and the missing titles have been purchased. Interlibrary loan rates at UCDavis are comparable to the other UCs.

5. Dissolution of the government documents department.

The subject specialists are available for consultation, and the consolidation of this department is consistent with a general trend among libraries. The trend is driven by the fact that 98% of government documents are available online, obviating the need for a physical collection.

Henry, Helen, and Gail Yokote. "UC Davis General Library Observations Related to 'The Library in Crisis.'" University of California, Davis, 2009.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Library in Crisis

A report has recently come to my attention, written by a faculty task force at UC Davis purporting to outline a crisis situation at the campus library. As part of its overview, it touches on many themes of the future of the libraries in our discussion.

In a subject based on statistics, the report actively and instructively attempts to sift through them for conclusions. It claims that the library has suffered a long-term trend of underfunding that predates the current budget crisis. While expenses associated with new technologies have grown rapidly in the last 15 years, the UC Davis library's budget has remained stable at around $16 million. This equates to an effective loss of funding. Coincident with this decline in funding, the report cites a precipitous drop in ACRL ranking from the top 25 in the 1980s to a current position of around 60, among the bottom of the UC's. Underfunding is further exacerbated, according to the report, by the fact that UC Davis has an enormous range of disciplines to serve--greater than any of the other UC's and possibly any in the nation! Presumably this range derives from the campuses background agriculture and veterinary medicine although what these disciplines are and why UC Davis should have so many is not spelled out in the report.

To assess the damage from underfunding, the report makes a case study of several departments. The Enology collection in the Biology/Agriculture department is a Level 5 collection designed to gather everything of interest and shortfalls in its budget impact the entire world as a result.

The mathematics department has been forced to cut back on key journals in its field.

As a result of underfunding, researchers in history no longer have access to major reference resources and books and interlibrary loan introduces critical delays in their work that sets them at a disadvantage compared to their peers.

The consolidation of the government documents department into other departments has made it difficult to consult with experts over the material.

For allowing this situation to come to pass, the committee blames the faculty who have allowed their library committees to lapse and the library administration for failing to communicate historical trends. For its recommendations, the report calls for increased funding necessary to restore the place of the UC Davis libraries to the top 30 in the ACRL rankings and to set up an active system of faculty and library committees with regular communication. The report ends with a warning that without access to the digitized information that contains the essence of current research, scholars "do not have a chance" to be competitive.

The report can be viewed at:

Waldron, Andrew, et al. The Library in Crisis: University of California, Davis, 2008.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

College students' perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources

This is a subset of a broader study that is focused on college students. This group tends to use the library more than other groups although, according to their own statements, less than before as a result of the internet. An overwhelming percentage began with internet search tools before moving to the library. A higher percentage than other populations use the library for studying. College students also retain a faith in the value of a library as an ideal and a potential source of valuable information. Their biggest recommendation is to make the library more physically convenient. More details can be found at:

De Rosa, Cathy. College Students' Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources: A Report to the OCLC Membership. Dublin, OH: OCLC Online Computer Center, 2006.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Marian the Cybrarian

A recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education by an English professor, mounts a stirring defense of librarians and libraries--even claiming that the library profession has never been so vital and valuable as now when it is facing budget cuts.

The article begins with personal observations including the "beer test": "They are among the most likeable people you'll find at any college. They have the intellectual curiosity of academics without the aloofness and attitude often displayed by professors."

The book moves on to summarize a recent book spelling out the case for libarians in the future:

Marilyn Johnson. This Book Is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All (HarperCollins, 2010).

Much of the review is given over to the response of the director of the Harvard Library to an unnamed scientist who suggested that Harvard deal with its budget problems by dumping the contents of the Widener Library in the Charles River. The response, exhibiting "balance" and "control" reviews a number of issues familiar to the library community. Of unexpected prominence is the suggestion for faculty and even student researchers to post their finding directly online--with the aid of librarians--and thus circumvent the time-consuming and exclusive avenue of journal publishing. The full article can be found here:

Benton, Thomas H. "Marian the Cybrarian." Chronicle of Higher Education May 20, 2010.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Perceptions of libraries and information resources

This summarizes a report commissioned by OCLC on user behavior gathered from around the world. It draws its results from a worldwide survey and amounts to a hymn to the information explosion. Users report satisfaction with the internet and a preference for it over the library for its rapid, convenient access to information that is considered satisfactory. Conclusions for libraries consist of:

(1) Libraries are perceived as being about print books.

(2) Libraries should better advertise their presence and could offer different formats and content.

(3) Libraries are advised by the respondents to increase their collections.

A longer summary of the report can be found at:

De Rosa, Cathy. Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources: A Report to the Oclc Membership. Dublin, OH: OCLC Online Computer Library Center, 2005.

UCDavis: Discussion of the Future

Future of UCDavis Libraries

1. Reference

a. Need to identify the population we are serving recognizing that there are different needs for each e.g. instruction for on-campus undergrads vs. information for community members throughout the state of California; patrons throughout the world

b. Need to define the reference service; for example does it include outreach functions as well as service to individual users.

c. Currently an evaluation/assessment program for reference has been sketched out that includes surveys at the reference desk and a plan for focus groups. After some delays this program is scheduled to resume in May 2010. Some issues for the evaluation effort include:

* identifying user needs and behaviors and their variations between campuses

* differentiating between the wants that users express and the needs that we can identify as professionals

* making full use of the data collected on user behavior; details tend to be compressed or eliminated in the way that the data is compiled

* a more sophisticated analysis of the data is necessary

d. The defining development of the last couple years in reference has been a reduction of service points in which the government documents, information, and bioag desks have been closed and their staff consolidated at the former hss desk which now serves as the reference desk of the Shields Library. Some discussion remains on the extent to which this has been done at the other branch libraries. Issues regarding consolidation are:

* driven by budget reduction to compensate for attrition now and in the near future

* reduction in demand for reference depending on which numbers are used

* lack of availability of librarians to users

* inefficiency in terms of increased off-desk reference

* dilution of subject expertise

* lack of responsiveness to subject users

e. Alternatives

* chat reference - working with remote campuses not efficient; staffing issues pose a barrier to more service

f. Optimal future:

* relating reference service to the overall mission of the library and university

* more elaborate training for reference personnel

* exploration of technologies for remote reference such as chat reference and online tutorials and guides

* an expectation of a new hybridization of reference with instruction, access services, and other units

* restoration of subject-specific service points

2. Relationship with Information Providers

a. Need to question the relationship between librarians and vendors

* the role of finances

* interface design

* types of pressure to be deployed on vendors to gain better service and products; working on the advisory board of a product can be fruitful

* Davis has a large cluster of liaisons with vendors

* additional usage data from vendors necessary

b. The distributed model at both the library and the particular vendor can cause challenges. For example, the parties who are involved in the negotiation are often different than those who have direct experience with user interaction, or, on the vendor side, are involved with development of the product.

* the interest of universities and database providers does not coincide and needs to be better understood; vendors want more money, libraries want better service

* the role of open access materials needs to be considered: free vs. good; a tendency for quality sources to be disregarded in favor of free ones; Google, Wikipedia; lack of permanence and control of resources; the details of the Google digitization effort are relevant

c. The role of instruction in promoting web sources through source evaluation techniques is important for users

d. The trend in this area appears to be towards outsourcing with its pluses and minuses

* implications for the future of interlibrary loan

e. Optimal Future: More influence with database vendors to provide user-friendly products at lower prices. Single interface for all databases. Finding role for ILL in future when more material available as e-books and restricted. Need to preserve fair use. Work to turn the University into more of an information provider through e-scholarship e.g. journals, research units, and conferences. Marketing of these products is important. The university can produce textbooks and instructional materials for students, and the library can assist with best practices.

3. Personnel

a. Outgrowths of the budget crisis

* more work is expected in the same time interval as before

* subject divisions are being eroded

b. New relationship between librarians and non-librarian staff; e.g. "library professional" is a super LA-5

* work needs to be done on succession planning and mentoring

* An issue is to consider at what point it is necessary to rehire as opposed to reassign positions within the library

c. New opportunities for professional development of staff.

* Request P.I. status for librarians as many grants for AF employees are not accessible as P.I. status is required before applying for the grant (travel grant).

* pathways for coursework and additional degrees

* manage tension between generalist/specialist

d. Optimal Future: As the lowest-staffed library in the UC system, Davis needs an increase in personnel to preserve the level of expertise necessary for a post-doctoral institutions. The current system of consolidation and reduction of personnel results in bad referrals and inefficiency. Regardless of the ingenuity in doing more with less, there is a level of staffing, we can't below without a critical loss in quality. More support needs to be given for staff to pursue formal training and certification.

4. Technology

a. communications technology: e.g. libguides, Second Life, chat reference, Skype (bibliographer groups), Facebook, YouTube,

* new hardware to support communication and mobility (headsets, microphones, webcams for live video, choice of laptop vs. desktop computer)

* training & technology support for new project initiatives and content creation: opportunity to explore the use of new and old technologies in a "sandbox environment" to foster our in-house creativity, collaboration and peer-to-peer learning (requires rethinking of budget and time allocations, initiated by librarians with systems support)

* security/permissions issues stand in the way of using some useful technologies; (these restrictions, in some cases, originate at the campus level)

* social networking may not be relevant to the library's future; publicity tools not reference

* tutorials limited by rapid change of databases which make them irrelevant; tutorials may be viable if limited to major resources or perhaps as links to tutorials by vendors

* library chat for each reference desk: needs to be localized to campus rather than current 24/7 which brings in questions throughout the system; chat should incorporate text messaging

* Next Generation: inadequacy of Next Generation interface; overwhelming resource which floods the user with information; retain local catalog with local notes, easy search of UCDavis titles; improved accuracy/precision of a local catalog

b. preservation/archiving technology: currently lack infrastructure to support digitization (produce, access), onsite; increased coordination necessary with CDL

* benefits to a shared workflow in cataloging and preservation throughout the system

* shared cataloging (CDL) being overwhelmed; need improved coordination between campuses; revamped so that process expedited with equal contributions; a SWAT team approach necessary to deal with backlogs

c. Instructional technology

* Endnote offers opportunities for new involvement with research practices

* use of clickers under consideration

d. optimal future: local catalog, improved infrastructure to support digitization; shared cataloging; mobile versions of catalog and small mobile applications to support general library research (undergraduates)

5. Collections

a. system vs. local collections

* books need local/core collections; system-wide collection for journals only

* approval plans under review; trend in libraries is to evaluate usage of print monograph similar to electronic resource review; changes in scholarly monograph publishing may signal evolution of approval or blanket plan to something more patron-driven for time of need for certain categories of material

* analysis of unique aspects of collection especially regard to the lack of permanence in digitized collections

b. reduce local footprint

* cannot reduce the footprint but must expand to support growth of programs at the university and larger volume of publications; ebook vendors are not available for this purpose; the local collection needs to be able to support growth.

* On the other hand, SOPAG collection space planning report claims that no more space is available. Libraries need to reach a 0% growth rate within five years to fit within available space. Long-term plans call for de-duplication of system holdings.

* cuts have already put significant strain on preservation and binding. More money and personnel will be needed in future to maintain the materials that we have.

c. optimal future: Physical constraints require a streamlining of collections throughout the system, but local collections should be shaped to support growth of programs on campus as much as possible.

6. Buildings

a. consolidation

* space already tight before the proposed closure of PSE

* while the Davis libraries have not reduced hours in response to budget cuts like other UC campuses, the hours are already low; they should be restructured to match times of student use

b. Rearrangement of space

* information commons forming on the first floor where there are no reference desks

* partnership with other entities to support a visual media commons (space, hardware, software, librarians and technical assistants) integrating media access and creation with media literacy topics taught by librarians.

* more group study rooms are necessary and more outlets for laptops

* fundraising: the building can provide sources for funds with the sale of merchandise, food, and space rentals for outside events.

c. optimal future: preserve the space that we have and redesign for efficiency to enable enhanced study environment for students and sale of products to generate funds for the library.

7. Campus Roles

a. Instruction

* UWP instruction

* integrated courses, subject specialists

* Re: Search Start paper consulting service

* classes for Learning Skills Center: STEP, term paper workshops

* orientations for new students and graduate students in all departments

* online tutorials and other tools under development

* EndNote to teach research and citation management at all levels.

* subject specialists given new freedom to design subject guides.

b. Outreach

* liaison work

* marketing

* advertising with fliers/ads to dorms

* reference service

* campus committees: academic federation committees, campus administrative advisory committees, LAUC

* webpage: blogs

* consulting: technical services (meta-data, preservation); archives/special collections

c. Optimal future:

* continued robust activity in existing areas

* sponsored seminars with academic focus; cultural events

* library research awards: writing contests

* formalizing/institutionalizing instruction with credit classes,

* technology: mobile bulletin boards in library lobby

* expansion into new areas of service: EndNote to improve research skills

8. Library Networks

a. ILL UCs

b. shared cataloging within UC

c.national cooperative cataloging

d. UCs repository of research programs in the state by act of legislation

e. CDL participation in national/international digitization

f. expansion outside of organizational boundaries to regional operations e.g. to include CSUs, other consortia

g. chat reference - national/international networks

h. networks to include public libraries, community colleges

i. Networks are driven by cost savings and have adverse effects on local institutions. As an example Google Books does not digitize anything with individual copyright. Many networked efforts pose problems in areas of preservation, omission, poor-quality of work

j. Optimal future - continued expansion in scale and cooperativity of networks with attention to preserving local specificity of collections.

9. Organizational Cultures

a. Communication issues with library administration

* Structure of library bureaucracy needs to reexamined; the library management contrasts with the rest of academia in remaining static while deans and department heads rotate

* There needs to be improved lines of communication

* Quicker responses

* administration counterclaims: communication efforts ignored, need two-way communication with timely input to administration in the spirit of the Principles of Community; difficult, unavoidable decisions should not be cause for shooting the messenger

* dangers of toxic self-perpetuating culture of negativity and inaction among librarians/staff

* free-form committees offer advantages over rigidly agenda-driven ones

* previous discussion indicates an information bottleneck in the practice of filtering communications from administration to staff through department heads; suggested remedies were to publish all minutes and to use notation clearly indicating action items, this has been unevenly adopted.

* need to consider ways to create an innovative environment that is proactive and encourages a sense of creativity and freedom to explore solutions to our challenges

* need to find ways to cultivate library community for example through social events such as ice cream socials and planned retreats

b. Communication with systems

* claims that Systems restricts access to technology and does not respond adequately to requests

* counterclaims that Systems acts to maintain security and must deal with technical challenges that are not apparent outside

c. Optimal future

* Improved communication with regular face-to-face meetings among parties involved e.g. Systems representation on RISC.

* A "Velvet Revolution" of an improved communal culture with frequent social activities