Bob Sewell and others involved in the planning process provided an overview of progress to date:
Major objectives in this area are to improve the effectiveness of the libraries communications program, and to better publicize how the library serves the needs of our users.
An outside consulting firm has been hired to conduct a survey of the university community and the information obtained will form the basis for development of future communications strategies by the library. A variety of investigative approaches will be used, including focus groups of faculty and students, use of various survey instruments, one-on-one interviews with selected individuals, on-the-spot random interviews with library users, etc.
Jeanne distributed a handout summarizing the development of the RFP used to select the consulting firm. This consulting phase is scheduled for completion during the summer 2004.
This committee is focusing on developing measures and benchmarks for a list of key quality, library indicators developed by a sub-group of Cabinet. These indicators with appropriate the quantifiable measures and benchmarks will serve as methods for determining how well the library is performing in these key areas and in accomplishing our goals. When the work of the committee has progressed to the point where a finished plan has been created, it will be submitted to Cabinet for review and approval, followed by implementation.
This is a separate project from the others listed above, but part of the overall 5 year planning process. CDC members were asked for updates as to how their plans were progressing for interviews with departmental liaisons and/or individual faculty members. The science librarians have elected to develop and utilize a web based survey form for broad distribution to the science faculty, to be supplemented by personal interviews with faculty members, if so desired, at the discretion of each selector. The social science and arts & humanities selectors are relying more on individual interviews with specific faculty members and/or departmental library committees. The next few weeks will be the period of most intensive work on this project, scheduled for completion by Mar. 15.
This group is working on developing a last copy policy covering the NJ academic community state-wide. An important related question under consideration: should NJ establish a special repository that would house the last copy items thus identified as well as for other possible storage needs. The main emphasis is now on print materials, but the scope could be broadened to include media materials, and digital resources as well.
The above groups are interested in presenting a joint event later in the year and are soliciting ideas for relevant topics. One proposal already under consideration: preservation issues. Additional suggestions for programs would be welcomed.
Bob distributed a handout summarizing progress to date on the Alexander Library retroactive conversion project. The work is going wonderfully well. Over half the LC classification categories are now 100 completed. Work on the remaining categories is well advanced and should be completed within the next two years.
After a long incubation period during which many publishers permitted free online access to journals for which we held print subscriptions, we have now entered a new era in which increasing numbers of publishers are adding supplementary charges on top of print subscription charges for online access. The problems resulting from this shift in marketing strategy are that, without prior warning, we could not allocate in advance for such increases, and moreover, these incremental charges are all over the map in terms of magnitude. Question: how to pay for these new charges? (i.e., what fund codes to charge? Individual selectors? Central??). After reviewing an accumulation of relevant invoices awaiting payment decisions, MSP and GMS determined that in the majority of cases thus far the increases were nominal (i.e., $100 or less). But some were more. There was a wide ranging discussion about the issues and procedures need to tackle this problem.
[After the meeting, Gracemary, Mary, and Bob developed following procedures based on the CDC discussion:
A related issues is the rapid growth in the ELPX central account is a matter of increasing concern from the standpoint of cost analysis and cost control. As it now stands, ELPX is a huge (and growing) catch-all as more and more selector allocations are transferred to it for the acquisition of electronic resources. Selectors need to be able to determine how well their respective subject areas were being served relative to the funds spent for such services. Bob noted that for the last few years he has sorted ELPX expenditures at the end of the year in a spreadsheet reflecting major subject groupings: arts and humanities, science, social science, and general/interdisciplinary. Workflows could do this automatically.
CDC agreed we need to modify our fund code system in a manner that would be more useful for analytical and control purposes and a task force was named that would carry out an initial quick study of the problems we need to address in order to improve the system. The Online Journal Management Task Force will be co-chaired by Mary Page and Gracemary Smulewitz. Other members named or volunteered: Jim Nettleman, Cathy Pecoraro, Howard Dess, Laura Mullen, and others. Bob will issue a charge and due date shortly, but it was recognized that speed was of the essence to try to introduce some initial changes/improvements before the start of the new fiscal year (July 1).
Currently, SIRSI is programmed to permit over encumbrances relative to fund code allocations to reach 110% of allocations in order to make allowances for all kinds of operational variables that cannot be accurately predicted in advance. It appears that the 10% overdraft for orders is insufficient. The major reason for this is vendor discounts are not recorded at the time the order record is created. The varying discounts (from 5% to 18.2%) are not reflected in SIRSI until the order is actually paid. This can result in unspent state funds in particular fund codes. At the end of the FY, unspent funds are sometimes used at the end of the year to fund large purchases and pay invoices on hand, so the funds can be lost to the original selector. In recognition of this situation, RGS approved raising the spending limit for state monograph fund codes to 115% of allocation, effective immediately. At the same time, RGS also noted that there are a number of funds codes that are significantly under encumbered with large free balances.
The objective of this RFP is engaging a vendor to administer our approval plan and firm order monograph orders for a contractual period of three years. Two finalists have emerged from this competitive process: Yankee and Blackwell. Both will be presenting demos at RU plus offering temporary free online access to their respective inventory databases. Selectors are urged to attend the demos, play with the databases and report their impressions to Bob and Mary.
The Acquisitions Dept. has been struggling to deal with a large number of selector requests to obtain access to supposedly free online resources in recent months. However, on further investigation by Cathy Pecoraro, many of these reputedly free products actually involve costs or other complications that came to light only after substantial research by Cathy, a commitment of time she can ill afford in light of other more pressing matters. We certainly want to take advantage of any truly free electronic products out there that are relevant to Rutgers needs and interests, but selectors are asked to invest more of their own time in preliminary screening and research to be as sure as possible that no hidden costs are associated with such additions. MSP's rough and ready test of the value of a freebie is: do you (selector) feel that this product is so important for our academic community that you would be willing to pay $1000 for it if it were not free? Other potential hang ups to keep in mind:
Make sure that online access to all of RU can be established via our existing IP network.
Selectors are asked to reject any CD-ROM products; they are just too troublesome to to deal with.
In circumstances where Cathy is exceptionally heavily involved with higher priority projects, selector requests for free products may be referred to the appropriate e-resource evaluation committee for consideration, or even returned to the selector for further action.
Ann distributed the usage reports for the previous period. No exceptional developments were noted. The missing books report will be finalized and released for use soon.
Bob confirmed our acquisition of the U.S. Serials Set from Readex. We will pay for this year primarily from selectors funds with some additional funds from a central non-state fund, but looking ahead, MIG is seeking additional funding sources to augment our limited budgetary resources.
JAMA and the related 6 Archives journals, and Immunity and Molecular Cell from Cell Press were approved for purchase at the meeting.
Bob is engaged in budget planning for the coming fiscal year, at a number of levels. One key element is to establish a base budget for the library that incorporates the annually repeated one time contributions that were always most welcome but which kept us on tenterhooks until they materialized: we need to know what we can count on year to year. The administration expresses confidence that the budget can be established earlier in the year than ever before, hopefully in July. This would be a very positive development for us. Bob asked CDC and selectors to pay special heed a new way of getting selector input for the budget request that may result additional funding. Selectors may request funding for special projects that help develop excellence in specific areas of need. In the case of the library, selectors should be very specific about what they are asking for, identify particular resources, e.g., some type of monograph collection, or very expensive reference tool, or filling gaps in our collection, based on specific need - new area of study within a department, the hiring of a professor 2, university has targeted particular area for expansion, etc. Another important consideration: brevity will be valued. Keep the request as short as possible, consistent with clarity of purpose. Most of the requests will be expected to focus on one time purchases, but Bob also noted we should not automatically exclude from consideration the possibility of electronic resources or important journals. We have had some recent successes in getting this type of fund. These mini requests should be submitted to Bob by late April.