The meeting was called to order at 9:30 am. The minutes of the December 2008 meeting were approved.
Jeris provided a handout that lists information from the library websites of our peer institutions regarding their "philosophy/mission/vision" of instruction. There is a good deal of variation regarding how, where, and how much information is presented. At some universities it is an explicit element in their strategic plan. At others simply locating instructional goals, philosophy, etc. is somewhat difficult. Assessing and making use of what is happening at other institutions will help us achieve our second goal for the 2008-09 academic year, to "develop a system-wide vision and philosophy of instruction." To that end, by a week before the Councilís next meeting on February 26, all members will place in a folder in our Sakai site the three institutions they feel have the best instructional "philosophy/mission/vision." We will also note the resources that we are currently lacking to realize the instructional vision that we are developing.
Natalie distributed a handout with recent statistics and information about staffing and hours for the Ask-a-Librarian email reference service and Meebo chat reference. Both are very popular. Use of Ask-a-Librarian from July to December 2008 increased twenty-one percent from the same period the previous year. Approximately half of the users are Rutgers undergraduates. Meebo hours were expanded during the fall of last year and averaged approximately nine questions per hour during the spring and fall semesters of 2008. Certainly one reason for the popularity of chat reference is that it is presented in such a prominent fashion; the chat box is the first thing users see when they visit our homepage at times when the service is available. We are collecting statistics by hour and by day and there seem to be no clear patterns of usage. This makes it difficult to plan for extending hours in the future. Moreover, to offer additional hours we would need more librarians to participate. Meebo only allows one librarian at a time to answer questions.
We had an extensive discussion regarding what these numbers mean for the future of traditional, in-person reference. Valeda suggested that we try closing a reference desk for a year at one of the smaller libraries with low reference statistics and evaluate the results. This idea was greeted with a degree of skepticism. The most important question raised was what would replace reference service at the selected location. It was argued that students with certain learning styles are best served with face-to- face reference and also that it is difficult to answer more complex, difficult questions via email, chat, or other online formats. In response, it was stressed that this would only be a pilot, that we can work out details at a later date, and that most people would adjust to new forms of reference. A number of Council members emphasized that it will be critical to market whatever online reference would replace the reference desk at the library in question. The New Brunswick Information Services Steering Group is discussing the use of Vsee software (vsee.com) for virtual, PC-to-PC reference service.
The Council discussed this proposal extensively prior to the meeting via email. It was also addressed by the Library Resources Council in January. The LRC agreed to change the default to advanced for all of the Ebsco databases. The USC discussion focused on Ebsco as well. It is relatively simple for Systems to make this a global change to all of the Ebsco products. Two of them, Family & Society Studies Worldwide and Social Work Abstracts, already default to advanced. The Council agreed generally that advanced search is the better option for purposes of both research and instruction. We charged the Database Interface Group (DIG), appointed last fall, to work out the details of the change.
PC Reservation is the software we installed at Alexander, Dana, Douglass, and Robeson Libraries in January to manage the time persons from outside of Rutgers can use the public computers in the reference rooms. Guests eighteen years of age or older can create guest-user accounts, good for one year, that allow them one hour of computer time per day. This was in response problems created by non-Rutgers users, some of them minors, monopolizing computers, often for several hours at a time. The installation of the software and the implementation of the new policy seem to have gone quite smoothly. Setting up the accounts is relatively straightforward, and we have had very few complaints about the change. This is a pilot and the Council will assess its effectiveness in November.
The requirement that guest users be at least eighteen years of age is accordance with the Librariesí Public Services Policy Memo #1. However, it creates a severe disadvantage for middle and high school students who wish to use RUL resources to research an advanced school paper or project. Believing that outreach to this group is an important function of a public university, the New Brunswick Information Services Steering Group has proposed a "Young Scholars Program." Young researchers would be allowed to create a guest-user account, good for the duration of their school assignment, if they provide a form signed by a parent and a school administrator. The Council agreed generally with the proposal, discussed a number of details, and appointed a task force to pursue this, to finalize the policies for the PC Reservation software, and address overall issues related to public access to RUL resources.
(Subsequent to the meeting, Tom and Jeris discussed this agenda item in more detail. Jeris will propose a charge for the task force at the USC meeting in February.)
Francoise Puniello- AUL for Facilities Planning and Management:
There are four new group study rooms in Alexander Library. The project to install more electrical outlets in Kilmer Library is underway.
Valeda Dent Goodman- AUL for Research and Instructional Services:
The following report was submitted via email prior to the meeting-
The meeting adjourned at 12:00 p.m.