Thursday, May 20, 2010

UCSF Response to UC Commission on the Future

The Librarians Association of the University of California (LAUC) is an official unit of the University charged with advising system-wide, campus, and library administration on the best course for the continued vitality of the University's libraries. More information about the purpose and history of LAUC is available here:

On behalf of the San Francisco Division of LAUC, I am writing to respond to the first round of recommendations posted by the Working Groups of the UC Commission on the Future. This is a follow-up to the statements made by librarians representing many LAUC divisions last fall, as representatives of the working groups visited individual campuses. Those statements stressed the importance of a vibrant library system for the continued vitality of UC.

Without a central place to access and utilize the fruits of UC's scholarly endeavors, the impact of UC's research efforts will be minimized. Furthermore, the next generation of leaders-today's students-will not excel without the benefit of a robust library system.

The working groups have put forth many ideas to ensure a brighter future for UC. This was an enormously difficult task accomplished within a short period of time. Of the recommendations offered, we would like to suggest two areas in which librarians could be valuable partners:

* Education and Curriculum Working Group: "Continue timely exploration of online instruction in the undergraduate curriculum, as well as in self-supporting graduate degrees and Extension programs." Many UC librarians today develop online instructional modules as supplements to individual consultations or classroom-based workshops. Given the plethora of online resources provided and managed by UC Libraries, in many cases today there is less need to visit physical libraries than previously. Librarians have responded by developing the capacity to interact with patrons within their own contexts, and this expertise would be useful as UC contemplates modes of online instruction.

* Research Strategies Working Group: "Create multicampus, interdisciplinary 'UC Grand Challenge Research Initiatives' to realize the enormous potential of UC’s ten campuses and three national laboratories on behalf of the state and the nation." This is a transformative, bold idea. Librarians can assist in developing the infrastructure to manage such a large project, from creating the digital repositories required to store the records of these investigations centrally to providing the skilled staff to manage them. One possible approach would be for the California Digital Library, which serves all 10 campuses, to distribute the results of these investigations on its eScholarship platform. This would maximize impact for the state and nation, and world, because eScholarship is an open platform available for viewing by all.

We offer these suggestions in a spirit of genuine collaboration and in recognition of the difficult days for UC that lie ahead.


Marcus Banks

LAUC-SF Chair, 2009-2010