Ron Becker, Chair, Libraries' Strategic Plan Committee gave an overview of the process to develop the Libraries' five year plan. Much work to gather information from faculty across the campuses and disciplines, as well as students, took place during the Spring 2004 semester through surveys and focus group discussions. A number of outside experts on various library initiatives came to campus to discuss directions in information literacy, higher education, and communications. The committee is evaluating this information and comparing it to other institutions' strategic plans. The committee has divided into 3 subgroups looking at what the Libraries' role should be related to research, faculty teaching, and student learning. In each of these categories the subgroups will consider the implications for collections, services, and spaces. Judith Grassle and Meredith McGill represent the Libraries' Advisory Committee.
The committee solicited feedback in several areas where they may place emphasis. For example: concerning facilities: the need for group study spaces, the need for quiet study space at hours later than currently offered, the general upgrade of facilities to make them more appealing and conducive to work, the number and kinds of teaching spaces; consideration of a new consolidated science library on the Busch campus (keep the Chang Library). For digital efforts: what collections to digitize and the criteria for selection, the value/need of publishing electronic journals, planning for collections support for new programs, the role/need for institutional repositories and what materials to collect. Ron noted that librarians are on two important committees within the university where we are collaborating: the undergraduate life and learning, where Jeanne Boyle represents us on the curriculum subcommittee, and Lynn Mullins and Gary Golden who are on the OIT strategic planning committee. Blair questioned giving priorities to projects/programs that are not of significant benefit locally, such as e-journals. Wasserman mentioned the hidden costs of many digital projects. Devanas pointed to the many collaborations among OIT, CAT, and the libraries as we continue to provide both teaching and research support--the collaboration on a university-wide site license for Endnote being one of them. She also mentioned the upcoming (May 4) program on learning spaces, which will be useful for the libraries as we continue to examine the need for different kinds of space. We agreed to share our progress with this committee and continue to seek their advice as the process moves along. Becker noted that he will be giving a report at the NB Faculty Council in a few weeks.
Bob Sewell, Associate University Librarian for Collection Development and Management, gave an overview of the current status of support for collections and how we compare to other ARL libraries. Of most significance is that our base budget does not now currently support our fixed costs related to collections, which are primarily databases, serials subscriptions and monographic serials. One-time funding from the university and gifts and endowments funds make up the difference to allow us to acquire monographs and new serials, and cover fixed costs. Without the development funds and one-time funding we would have massive serial cancellations and purchase no books. The committee was asked to consider how we should strategize for a rational process for collections support. We examined other comparable universities' collections expenditures and recommended that we should seek over the next five years to reach a base budget for collections that covers our current fixed costs and monographic purchases that is in the median range of our aspirant peer institutions. Once that level is reached, we should agree on a yearly increase to the base that takes into account the inflation rate for materials. While that rate is now about 8% per year, we should consider a more modest annual increase. One-time yearly funding related to the amount of ICR from grants should be included, but not necessarily added to the base. The impact of new programs should be built into the budget process with one-time start up funding and a modest increase to the base. Masschaele asked to see comparisons with how our peers are supporting collections based on expenditures for FTEs (faculty, students, graduate students). He noted that we cannot recruit excellent students or faculty without the collections to support their work, and that is becoming a serious problem. We should also compare the FTE support with a few of the schools in New Jersey who are seeking to raise their status, such as the College of NJ. We agreed to share this information with the committee.
Gaunt presented a certificate of recognition to Prof. Fred Kauffman who retired in January but continues many of his service activities as an emeritus faculty. Gaunt noted the many committees related to the Libraries on which Fred has served and provided valuable advice and comment. The Libraries' consider him a "library champion" and recognize his support over many years.
Gaunt noted that the Libraries' are participating in a national survey to assess library service quality. The survey was sent to approximately 7500 randomly selected faculty, students, and staff from across the university starting Sunday. The survey will run for 4 weeks. Some of the comments received from the survey (anonymously) confirm the data the Libraries' had gathered last semester regarding community needs. Several members of the committee had received the survey and responded. It will be used to benchmark progress. The results will be shared with the community.
Pitts mentioned that the National Survey of Student Engagement will be offered in the Fall and may provide some additional information useful for library planning.
Gaunt called the committee's attention to and article in the recent issue of the RUL Report regarding SearchPath, the new library tutorial. SearchPath was developed from software programs developed at other institutions and customized for Rutgers. The Libraries hope that faculty will use it in their course management systems and point students to its value in helping them to learn to find and use information for their papers and coursework. As it was just announced, its too premature to know its impact, but we hope it will be used heavily in the Fall. Comments are welcome.