In the library of the future the user will be able to get the information or "document" needed in a timely manner delivered to the user's desktop or closest library. He or she will be able to perform most library services without intervention. The functions of libraries and librarians will be the same but how we do them will be different. We will still acquire things, organize things and we will still manage the collections and make them available to users as appropriate, whether print, non-print, or online. Much of this work will take place online and those who perform these jobs will require different skills than those in the current environment. Technical training will have to be an integral part of our program both for employees and our users.
The document, A New Framework for RUL based on the DLI, makes clear that much of the work that is presently done in buildings, departments or campuses, has an influence which extends beyond the immediate location or is related to work in other buildings, departments or campuses. The grouping in the document of activities by their relationship to the user, brings out the inter-relatedness of the different areas. Most librarians, looking at the framework, can see parts of their current jobs falling into at least two different areas. This intellectual division exists today and will probably become more pronounced.. The way that things are done may require that we be organized differently as the boundaries between functions become less and less clear.
This document also makes clear that we are currently doing a large amount of work. In most cases this work has been added on to existing workloads without much examination. A careful examination might enable the integration of new work into existing procedures rather than the creation of a separate routine. A thorough examination should release some time and staff that could be used elsewhere or within the same area to support an increasing workload. Once priorities have been established, it will be possible to review existing lines and work loads and make reassignments or reallocations where necessary. We are lacking in basic facets that are needed for a true digital library to develop. The three areas listed below have been identified as equally important priorities.
For years we have said that IRIS is the place to find out what we have. IRIS still does not meet this criterion. Lack of full electronic access to all of our holdings via a single access point wastes time and financial resources. It also means much of our collection remain underutilized. A concrete plan needs to be developed to make IRIS the comprehensive representation of the libraries holdings. We need to include our currently inaccessible print materials as well as new digital materials. The effort should also include assessment and planning for the next generation of access methods. This effort need not be based solely on the traditional concept of individual records, but should be approached with alternative access methods and effective use of all RUL resources in mind. For example, a search on Mary Lou Williams, should find the electronic and print material we own, along with the link to the collection of her papers located at the Institute of Jazz Studies and a link to the available finding aid(s). If a digital exhibition of this collection has been mounted, that search should also to lead to its display. If someone at the University has produced related materials, a link to those materials should exist.
The Libraries are experiencing losses to their tangible collections daily due to the lack of rigorous preservation standards and activities. These losses, due to theft, environmental conditions and misuse of library materials can be expected to accelerate without active intervention. The need for digital preservation is equally great. The Libraries contracted with a preservation consultant who made several critical achievable recommendations. Some of the recommendations will not incur outright costs, i.e., issuing a comprehensive contract for library binding. Creation of facilities for print and non-print preservation, and recruitment of a preservation coordinator will require commitment of financial resources. Whatever the monetary implications, making preservation a priority will require that various library personnel actively attend to preservation matters.
Coordination and building of a robust digital infrastructure and development of preservation capabilities are necessary but not sufficient for present and future library activities. Institutional emphasis for the next five years must include improvements in instructional technology, developments in instructional programs and advances in interpersonal effectiveness so that we can better contribute to the educational process for all of our students, both present and at a distance. We need to strike a balance between what we present in packages and what we present in person. We need to invest in high-end computing for preparing, delivering and assessing effective instruction while we also train and hire the personnel to create meaningful educational experiences for students in the classroom, in the library and at a distance.
Whereas locating information or documents requires an integrated resource to search for them and;
Whereas receiving the material requires that the documents be in a shape to be used, and;
Whereas using the libraries resources requires the ability to use the existing systems,
Therefore Be It Resolved, that the Rutgers University Library Faculty endorses the Planning Committee recommendations that for the next three to five years, the focus of the University Libraries efforts and resources should be concentrated on: