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