Wednesday, March 31, 2010

UC Commission on the Future First Recommendations

Here is a summary of the first round of recommendations of the UC Commission on the Future. Links to expanded documents are appended. The big picture might be useful to see where libraries can insert themselves. The last heading "Educating Tomorrow's Innovators" seems to me like the likeliest entry point.


Vision for the future

The UC Commission on the Future just released the first round of recommendations from its five working groups. Some recommendations you likely won't find controversial. Others represent changes that we probably would not be talking about if it weren't for the fiscal crisis that inspired the birth of this commission. This is just a first step and by no means the end of the commission's work. We expect lively debate over some of these recommendations.

During the next two months, the commission is gathering feedback before presenting prioritized recommendations to the regents in July. The commission will continue working and will present final recommendations in the fall.

As a UC advocate, your voice is important to this process. You can read the first round of recommendations and submit your feedback online .

As you can see, despite our budget challenges, UC is not standing still. Here are just a few of the recent efforts to serve our students and the people of California.
Campus Climate

University leaders are taking a hard look at the issues of intolerance that have come to light on some of our campuses in recent weeks. You may have read about these incidents .

Campus leaders reported to the UC Regents (Watch video) on the steps they have taken to address those incidents. Regents also heard from students about their experiences with bigotry and about UC's need to increase diversity on all of its campuses.

As President Mark Yudof said at the meeting, "We do not shy away from examining our own problems, from acting decisively and with dispatch to address them."

We want you to know that work continues to investigate the campus incidents and appropriately discipline those responsible whenever possible. At the same time, UC Regents have pledged to take responsibility for monitoring campus climate throughout the system and for increasing the diversity of our students, faculty, staff and curriculum to better reflect the rich, multicultural environment of California.

We are confident that together we can move forward and reaffirm our commitment to tolerance, civility and inclusiveness. Those are values we embrace and that underpin the great work accomplished at the University of California.

Public service

At the governor's request, UC is exploring what role it can play in helping the state save millions of dollars in prison health costs.

Green research

Our annual sustainability report highlights all the ways we're cutting the carbon footprint of our campuses and saving money at the same time. In the growing field of green technology, UC is a national leader, and we practice what we teach.

Educating tomorrow's innovators

Our students continue to learn and apply their knowledge to the real world. Check out some of the research projects our undergrads are working on and see why it's so important that we keep advocating for UC's future.

Your support makes our successes possible.

Thank you for standing with us.

Please visit if you'd like to learn more about our advocacy efforts and take action.

Visit UC Newsroom for the latest systemwide news.


UC Advocacy Team

The recommendations can be found at:
full report at:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

SOPAG Reports on Collection Space Planning

Here are links to the SOPAG reports:

Final report:

• Appendices A-D:
• Appendix E:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

UC Budget and Libraries

In times of severe budget crisis as we are surely in, it makes sense to consider all points of view and, as librarians, it behooves us to consider as well the alternative press. So, here is a short review of an article that summarizes well one extreme view of the UC Budget crisis.

Parrish, Will, and Darwin Bond-Graham. "Disaster Capitalist University." Anderson Valley Advertiser 58.7(2010).

The article is listed on the LAUC Futures bibliography on the LAUC wiki with an active link.

The article starts with the decision of last July by the California State Legislature to remove $813 million from the University of California's budget for the next fiscal year. In response, the university's Board of Regents declared a "state of emergency" accompanied by special "emergency powers" for UC President Mark Yudof with which he has implemented cost-cutting measures that have been the subject of controversy. The article generalizes this incident to a general trend which it calls "disaster capitalism" based on a 2007 book called The Shock Doctrine by journalist Naomi Klein. The theory is that major players in a capitalist society will fabricate crises in order to suspend the freedom of the people, suppress their spirit of inquiry and arrogate special powers to themselves (players) for their own advancement. This notion has had currency elsewhere. In George Orwell's iconic novel 1984, societies are kept united and oppressed by remote wars created for this purpose. More recently, Michael Crichton's novel, State of Fear, postulated that the entire of issue of global warming is the fabrication of environmentalist groups and corrupt elements of government for their own hidden agendas.

Applied to the UCs, the "shock doctrine" introduces numbers, similar to those heard already, to show that the university is not facing a crisis that is beyond the resources it has available. The article goes on to build a complex web of political and financial connections, including Yudof. This network, allegedly, is using the current financial crisis to gain unprecedented control of university money and invest it in large corporations for personal profit.

I've selected this article for review partly because it appeared in a library listserve, so it is a specimen of the discourses that we are exposed to. It also, rather articulately, gives voice to some of the most extreme objections to the current handling of the budget crisis as well as the misgivings and dissatisfaction that one could hardly avoid feeling in the midst of these events.

How are librarians to respond to this line of reasoning? First, one can hardly deny that this is a specimen of conspiracy theories that have appeared in many contexts. This does not mean that they are to be dismissed out of hand, and it seems undeniable to me that there is some degree of truth in the claims. However as part of the conspiracy genre, this article is liable to a lot of concerns with others of its type. First of all, the claims tend to be long on suggestiveness and insinuations but hard to prove. In this category is another issue that deserves to be singled out. There is a practice of throwing out numbers here and there to support a picture of injustice by the university policy. Maybe these numbers are correct. Yet, it is undeniable that the whole financial picture is far, far more complicated to the point where it is very likely impossible to summarize by a few numbers as has been done. Is it even possible to communicate the essence of the university's finacial situation to the populace at large? I don't know. But it seems to me futile for proponents of both sides to quote a few numbers here or there and claim that their side is right. This just doesn't convince anyone.

In any case, what are librarians to do? Sadly, not a great deal that I can see. We certainly are not in a position to do investigative reporting to expose the truth of large conspiracy theories. It seems like the best we can do is to keep on doing our job and advocating wherever possible the importance of libraries and librarians for the public good against which uses of the public money, even by conspirators, will, ultimately, be held accountable.

For these seeking to explore the actual financial state of the university in all its details and communicate this to constituents, it's important to develop a picture that persuasively shows the complexity of the finances rather than what looks like soundbites and partisan data.


Monday, March 1, 2010

International Digital Library Research & Development Meeting

The UC's efforts at digitizing library material in cooperation with Google and the HathiTrust are being paralleled by other cooperative efforts as described in a report called "International Digital Library Research & Development Meeting" which describes an international meeting at Stanford University on library cooperatives. The report can be found in full at ( .

The report claims that "in an era of retrenchment, [senior administrators and senior technologists] are seeking to extend the reach of their institutions through unprecedented integration of their digital collections with others' in the international library community." In other words, crisis is opportunity and in a time of budgetary challenges, library leaders hope not only to reduce costs but expand service at the same time. These twin imperatives lead to a sense of urgency. "We need to be positively impatient," according to one of the participants.

Progress, however, has foundered or at least been held up by an irresolvable "tension" between two different points of view. On the one hand, "The piece-by-piece maturation of the digital library, growing as it has from separately funded initiatives that are often redundant, is neither efficient nor sustainable." On the other, "Striving to achieve widespread agreement on priorities for digital library development" is slow and even "counter-productive." In other words, neither a top-down nor bottom-top method serves the purpose and no procedural compromise has been discovered. Yet, the report elsewhere describes this tension as "fertile" and productive. Specific initiatives include:

1. Repository Architectural Review
2. Data Curation and Preservation
3. Digital Manuscripts
4. Digital Forensics
5. Semantic Web
6. Hydra/Blacklight - tools for building an environment for hosting and managing digital assets (
7. PLANETS - a European-based initiative for building tools, codifying best practices, and fostering a community around digital preservation (

and many more.