Bob introduced to the committee Grace Agnew, RUL's new AUL for Digital Library Systems. See below for Grace's introductory remarks to the committee.
Updating and expanding the range of the library's research guides is a major goal for the Web Advisory Committee (WAC) this year. WAC's chair, Au and Rebecca Gardner joined us to discuss ways that WAC and the CDC can work together to improve this means of service. Below are the highlights of his remarks. Au prepared a more detailed presentation which may be viewed at: http://newark.rutgers.edu/~au/cdc.htm. Especially noteworthy are the more than 10 Ph.D. programs that are not yet served by guides.
WAC and the AUL/CDM encourage selectors to develop and maintain guides for all the major disciplinary programs at RU. They are not only an excellent resource for students and faculty, but can also be of great help to your colleagues when they're at the reference desk or preparing for BIs. As an unwritten rule, WAC would like make certain that none of the guides are more than one year old.
WAC realizes doing an extensive guide is a major, time-consuming project. But we can help each other out to reach this important goal. Au stressed that we don't need to do any HTML ourselves. Sam McDonald will handle that. Also, WAC is ready and willing help out in any way possible. Au can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments, questions, or problems.
There was a general consensus that it is important for the CDC to aid WAC in their efforts. Tom Glynn, not yet having grasped the importance of staring intently at the table top during a call for volunteers, agreed to serve as a liaison. He will keep WAC apprised of CDC activities and to report back to the CDC about WAC's progress. Au and Rebecca may likewise sit in on future CDC meetings.
We have hired Paul Conway, head of the Preservation department at Yale University, as a preservation consultant. He will read the report of the Preservation Planning Task Force, "Reinvestment in Knowledge," visit RUL on February 4, and submit his own report of recommendations.
We are in the process of negotiating the acquisition of a major gift collection. The private library of a recently deceased member of the English Department, it comprises 5-8,000 volumes on the occult and the "weird sciences" published from the sixteenth century to the present. Normally we tend to be skeptical about large, unsolicited gifts, but this appears to be a very focused and valuable collection.
See below for a separate report from Bob on budget reduction scenarios.
Grace explained she was hired to be a facilitator and an integrator to help RUL move forward in the digital environment. She realizes traditional media will not go away anytime in the near future. The key is to develop our digital sources such that patrons can find and use both digital and traditional sources in a seamless fashion. RUL is very large and very diverse and the challenge is to encourage that scope and diversity while at the time identifying unifying principles that will help make sense of it all.
Grace placed great emphasis on scalability and sustainability. We want to be able to do a number of ambitious projects at the same time and keep them going over time. To do this we need to have common standards and ways to pull in creators from the larger university community. She encourages us to rethink our role as collection managers and to ask whether there are other collection managers at Rutgers outside of the library. For example, we should consider all the gray literature that is produced on campus as a potential resource to which we can provide access. Our role in the future is less to create new digital sources than to provide standards and evaluate what other specialists create. Standards are critical if projects are to be sustained over time and to incorporate the efforts of many creators. Grace intends to set up a structure for the digital library that will help encourage wider participation from the library and the university as a whole. She wants especially to avoid the impression that the digital library is a "gated community."
The collections they give access to should be integrated as much as possible as well. This does not mean simply that they share a common interface and web page design. Grace is particularly interested in emerging standards for preservation metadata. This is something that the library profession as a whole does not do well yet.
Grace asked us to consider carefully the distinction between developers and maintainers. The two roles often require different skills and the same person does not necessarily need to maintain the project that she has developed. She can move on to something else, while the original project is maintained by someone else.
During the Q & A that followed Grace's remarks, we spent some time discussing the acquisitions process and how that effects the work done by RUL selectors. Howard invited her to meet with the New Brunswick Collection Group to share with them some of her ideas. Grace assured us appreciates our concerns and that improving speed and efficiency in the acquisitions department is a top priority. In particular, she said it will be possible to find a way of integrating SIRSI and Blackwells in the ordering process. We'll need to have a programmer to write a special program.
In many of the matters that Grace discussed the Collection Development Council can play an important role. We look forward to working with her she assumes her new duties.
We will definitely have serious cuts in the materials budget in the coming fiscal year and we need to start preparing for them now. Bob outlined a number a number of scenarios that will result in reductions, all of which factored in an inflation rate for serials of eight percent. The five scenarios resulted in reductions in spending power from seven to twenty-one percent. Bob, Howard, Jim, and Veronica were appointed a special committee to consider means of dealing with these contingencies. One idea that was reluctantly endorsed was setting aside our remaining gift funds this year in order to soften the blow next year. The committee will report on their decisions shortly. [Since the meeting it has been learned that there will be cuts in this year's budget and a plan is being developed for that circumstance.]