Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Collection Preservation and Budget Issues at UCDavis

The UC Davis Binding Services Section hosted a workshop on their services on Monday, February 22, 2010. The Binding Services Section is part of the Margaret B. Harrison Preservation Department which is housed in the Technical Services Department of the Peter J. Shields Library. The talk was presented by Charlotte Payne, supervisor of the Binding Services Section and Wendy Jones, supervisor of the Conservation Treatment and In-House Binding Sub-Section.

The services of the Binding Section take place against a backdrop of shrinking budgets and offer not only ingenious techniques for doing the job with less money but also a portrait of how the budget-crisis of the UCs is affecting every aspect of libraries. The binding budget has dropped by almost 40% in the last two years from $106,868 to $77,376. Charlotte said that the first consideration is mandatory requirements. All monographs and monographic series housed at the Physical Sciences Library (PSE) are bound, amounting to $4,000 of the buddget. This is partly because space is so compact there that the binding is necessary to squeeze everything in although it was noted that binding also increases the size of a book by a small amount. Gift books are generally not bound or repaired, however, those in need of serious repair will be bound. Otherwise, in order to allot the limited resources of the binding department, Charlotte gathers as much information as possible on the usage level and value of the book. She checks circulation levels of old copies and provdes slips to collection developers asking for their expectations of usage. One librarian mentioned that he had been told not to use these slips, but Charlotte said that, from the point-of-view of the binding department, information was always helpful. Active involvement of the bibliographers is an important element in successful cost reduction.

Among the binding materials available for paperback books, mylar is the champion: it is sturdier than plastic boook jackets, has superior openability, retains front and back covers, and is cheaper than buckram binding with almost equivalent durability. Buckram is reserved for books of significant size and weight. Use of the fastback machine has now been discontinued as the machinery had so much downtime that it was cost-effective to send the jobs to the UC bindery instead. In addition, in-house fastbacking was impacted by cuts in the budget for student assistants. In response to a question, Charlotte said that she was not aware of any "green binding" yet in existence other than the use of acid-free board in binding. What cannot be repaired in-house or at the UC bindery is sent to collection developers with a list of options, including replacement or discard.

Wendy discussed the repair processes of the preservattion department. Books arrive from all branches and departmeents in the Library but the bulk, 270 per month, come from the Circulation department. About 100 per month are sent to the UC bindery, a much smaller number than previously since books are increasingly repaired on-site to save money. An average of 170 books per month have conservattion treatment including rebacking and treatmeent for a bindery new case. Categories of problems include books with sugar and coffee stains or any other kind of stain that could attract insects and threaten the collection. Wendy observed that the quantity of damaged books has increased significantly. There is also an increased incidence of ink markings in books. Asian language books often arrive with very fragile bindings that need to be replaced. The preservattion department works hard to do conservation work that can reduce the costs of UC biinding which, for rebinding or a new case, costs $16. However, the student staff has been cut from 10 to six because of budget cuts, and the preservation departmeent has become significantly backlogged. Repair options include tack binding, velo binding, pam binding and custom-made boxes for books, and full conservation treatments, including resewing. Sometimes books are sent to NRLF where they will be handled less. Wendy reiterated that she works very closely with Charlotte and both check the Melvyl catalog to formulate the most cost-effective repair choices. Wendy added that you cannot always predict which items will be used. GRE Prrep books from 2003 have been borrowed many times already in 2010. Those people are desperate....


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hurtling Toward the Finish Line: Should the Google Books Settlement Be Approved?: California Digital Library

Hurtling Toward the Finish Line: Should the Google Books Settlement Be Approved?
February 16, 2010

Ivy Anderson, Director of Collections
California Digital Library

"Late last week, Google and the plaintiffs filed their final briefs in defense of the Google Books Amended Settlement Agreement (ASA) that is before the New York Southern Federal District Court. As the rhetoric around the Settlement heats up to white-hot intensity in the final days before the Fairness Hearing on February 18th, I’d like to offer a few personal thoughts from my vantage point at the California Digital Library."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

UCSF Discussion of the Future of UC Libraries

On Monday, February 8, LAUC-SF hosted a local discussion about the future of UC libraries and the evolving roles of librarians. Members of LAUC-SF attended, as well as senior library leadership including university librarian Karen Butter. We invited the entire library staff to attend, and a few interested staff members (including a circulation assistant who recently earned his MLIS) were also in attendance.

Prompted by the table reports from the December Assembly in Berkeley, as well as the CDC concept paper on the 21st century collection, a healthy discussion ensued. There remains a gap in conceptions of whether we have a UC "collection" or "collections," and continued discussions are needed about how to balance a campus's rightful ownership with more widespread access. There was a general consensus that our roles needed to evolve in order for librarians to remain relevant, but into what is less clear.

At UCSF we've taken a somewhat different approach to the concept of "library as place," with the Library's active involvement in the development of the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) to open in 2011. The TLC will replace a floor that used to be devoted, in part, to more traditional functions such as housing bound journals. Although there were initial concerns about "losing space," most library staff now see the TLC as a positive development that will cause us to develop new services and ways of teaching. We are not advocating clinging to the building for the building's sake, but rather converting our physical assets into more vital space that benefits the aims of the Library in tandem with those of the University.

Space, mission, roles--all of these are in flux right now. Following the meeting, our UL pointed us to a useful paper by Paula Kaufman of the University of Illinois that addresses similar themes: "Carpe Diem: Transforming Services in Academic Libraries." The gathering at UCSF led to a productive discussion, and I hope many more follow.

Marcus Banks
Chair, LAUC-SF

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Library Buildings -- UCDavis Sleep-In

This past weekend February 5-7, the Peter J. Shields Library was the site of a "sleep-in" to protest the rise of student fees and budget cuts throughout the UC system. Students remained in the library throughout the weekend, holding talks on the progress of the budget, hanging posters, operating coffee stands, and, of course, studying.

The event represents another turn in a string of creative protests at UCDavis. In the fall quarter, Davis students staged a rally on the central quad clad in their underwear to protest fee hikes. At a later date, demonstrators occupied Mrak Hall, the site of the Registrar's office and refused to leave. Some were forcibly removed and there were arrests on-site. When I told my Dad about the library sleep-in, his response was "Why a library?" I said that this is in the tradition of activism from the 1960s where our very own UC Berkeley helped to make history with occupations of university buildings. "I know all that," he said. "But those were symbols of power. Usually people take over administrative buildings. What do they plan to do with a library?"

Why indeed? It appears that what transpired did not quite follow anyone's original vision but was more of an evolution. Earlier in the week, the library and the Chancellor's office received notice that the library would be occupied by students over the weekend. Since, as we know, the library closes for part of that time, in the case of the Shields Library at 6pm on Friday to reopen at noon on Saturday, this announcement was distinctly challenging with the threat of conflict. Linda Katehi, newly appointed Chancellor of UCDavis responded with an announcement that the university recognizes the difficulties upon students imposed by the budget crisis and hopes to assist them by holding extra library hours. So, indeed the library remained open all weekend. Library AULs and acting co-ULs staffed the circulation desk through both Friday and Saturday night. The scene that unfolded was a benign one. Friday evening began with a series of talks on the budget crisis during which the only disruption was when a union speaker was asked to cut his remarks short to make room for student speakers. There were workshops on self-defense and various crafts, coffee stations provided and run by the students, and motivational posters hung up throughout the building. In addition to quoting the likes of Oscar Wilde and Dr. Seuss on various metaphysical truths were several thanking "our wonderful librarians and staff." Mostly students did indeed study and occupied their usual niches throughout the building.

In answer to "why a library building?" this episode, I think has, potentially, much to say about the physical space of the library building in the context of change in education. Players which have sometimes been potentially at odds--the administration, the library, and the users--through political strategy, flexibility, and a spirit of cooperation managed to turn an event that could have been ugly and full of conflict (police dragging people out of a library would be much more inflammatory than dragging people out of the registrar's building as has been replayed on UCDavis TV monitors for weeks) into one that was not only benign but productive. Lo and behold, the mythical library coffee shop, which is often discussed but seldom realized, materialized on its own along with other activities and an "information commons." Perhaps this merging and temperate harmonizing of elements is what the library can offer to campuses in a period of change.