New Brunswick Libraries Faculty Meeting - Special Meeting, Library of Science and Medicine
July 26, 2005
Ellen Calhoun, Jeris Cassel, Joseph Consoli, Mary Fetzer, Rebecca Gardner, Sara Harrington, Karen Hartman, Ron Jantz, Martin Kesselman, Triveni Kuchi, Linda Langschied, Jackie Mardikian (Chair), Kevin Mulcahy, Laura Mullen, Patricia Piermatti, Françoise Puniello, John Shepard (recording), Myoung C. Wilson, Ryan Womack, Connie Wu.
Visiting: Grace Agnew
Jackie Mardikian called the meeting to order shortly after 1:30 p.m.
Françoise Puniello reported that Marianne Gaunt stated that seven faculty lines, from all three campuses, may now be filled. Filling vacant lines will be a discussion topic at the next RUL cabinet meeting. The New Brunswick Libraries Faculty must justify the NB lines it determines should be filled. There are ten open lines at NBL.
Jeris Cassel, Chair of the NBL Exploratory Committee, said that the committee members have been looking at available information about lines to be filled, but now need input from the NBL faculty. She distributed drafts of position descriptions (including two—Middle Eastern Studies Librarian and Media Technology Librarian—which have not been reviewed by the committee) along with a list of seven positions proposed by the committee as priorities for filling (the first of these—the Digital Architecture Librarian—has already been approved by a vote of the NBL faculty). [Jeris attached the position descriptions and related documents in her NB_LIBFAC posting of 25 July 2005.]
In response to a question from Joe Consoli, Jeris said that the committee has also been looking at expertise within the RUL system as a way of meeting needs while saving librarian lines. Connie Wu questioned the relationship of the positions as described to proposed new organizational structures; she suggested making job titles larger and broader to allow for team work and closing ranks around subject specialties. As an example, she suggested that the South Asian and East Asian librarian position descriptions were too specific, and might be combined. She added that there is no South Asian Studies department, and asked whether librarian positions should be geared to departments. Marty Kesselman said that with forthcoming retirements in the sciences, it might be difficult to find one librarian for departmental liaison in many disciplines, and that a team (e.g., life sciences team) might function more effectively. Françoise Puniello reminded the faculty that Grace Agnew would be speaking about library needs in the sciences.
The positions of Geography/Maps/GIS Librarian, East Asian Librarian, and Information Literacy Leader were discussed. Kevin Mulcahy said that information literacy training will become even more important with the reorganization of undergraduate education at New Brunswick. John Shepard remarked that the seventh position on the Exploratory Committee’s list of priorities seemed to be either an Information Literacy Leader or a Performing Arts Librarian (either position at Douglass Library); he stressed that with the D21 initiative the Music Library would be renovated and transformed into a full-fledged performing arts library, requiring the support of an additional permanent librarian line. He added that the performing arts librarians (currently Librarians III and V) at Douglass were members of the Douglass Information Services Team and as such shared responsibility for general library instruction and information literacy training.
Grace Agnew spoke in support of creation of the position of Science Data Curation Librarian. For research projects that it supports with taxpayers’ money, the National Science Foundation has called for preserving data more effectively. Moreover, NSF now requires that initiatives that it funds result in sustainable programs. Effective management of data is the key to sustainability, but scientists have little training in managing data, and the time needed for data management necessarily reduces the time available for scientific research. President McCormick wants Rutgers to get more grants, and RUL support for science data management will be an important factor in securing funding.
Jeris asked if managing science data was a role of the Libraries and, if so, whether there was a pool of people who could apply for the position of Science Data Curation Librarian. Grace Agnew replied that as the knowledge base changes, the Libraries should change with it and support the creators of digital data among the science faculties. She said that RUL would have to “headhunt” to fill this position. In response to Jeris, Grace added that she viewed the position as an RUL faculty position, and she volunteered to serve on the search committee. Ron Jantz stressed the difference between science data and social sciences data: the latter lends itself to generic processes, while data for stem cell research and other scientific initiatives have profiles unique to each area of research. Grace Agnew stated that a science data curation program at Rutgers could build bridges to the San Diego Supercomputing Center, of which Rutgers could become the East Coast partner. Linda Langschied added that the neuroscientists at the Spinal Cord Injury Project on the Busch campus have a mistaken assumption that they are effectively curating the Project’s data. Grace Agnew affirmed that the Science Data Curation Librarian would work with the Digital Architecture Librarian (already approved by NBLF) and reiterated: “we need scientists to make discoveries, not to work at archiving old data.”
Having completed her report, Grace Agnew left the NBLF meeting. After Marty Kesselman stated that the Science Data Curation Librarian was not an NBL position, Rebecca Gardner asked if it was to be an RUL position. Françoise Puniello responded that the position’s faculty liaison and instruction duties determine its status as an NBL position. [There was some discussion of the relationship of technical services to public services and ways proposed NBLF positions might blur the lines between the two services.] Ryan Womack said that—like the South Asian Studies Librarian position—the Science Data Curation Librarian position is experimental: experimentation is good, but it needs to be discussed in a different way than we discuss established positions which support existing departments or programs. Kevin Mulcahy responded that with the decline of reference statistics and the devolving of many collection development responsibilities to central administration, even established positions must be assessed for evolving responsibilities in response to new trends. Myoung Wilson nevertheless agreed with Ryan: while the Social Sciences Data Librarian is an established position for an assembled body of data, the Science Data Librarian is envisioned for a body of data which has not yet been collected. Meanwhile (Myoung continued), we still have reading rooms to manage and expensive databases whose contents need to be explained to faculty and students: we should not play around with our librarian lines just to conform to RU administration perceptions of current trends. In support of the Science Data Curation Librarian position, Marty Kesselman said that the Bio-Informatics Laboratory at Cook College could have been a project of the Libraries; when the National Science Foundation controls such a huge amount of grant money, the Libraries have to find a way to approach NSF. Referring to Ryan’s point, Jackie Mardikian said that the success of the Science Data Librarian position will depend on the qualifications of the person hired to fill it: a proactive, assertive individual who can sell the concept of science data curation can lead a successful program.
Linda Langschied said that the position of South Asian Studies Librarian struck her as experimental, not that of the Science Data Librarian. She said that when Ron Jantz became Librarian of the SCC Data Center, the faculty of the Institute of Coastal and Marine Sciences requested that the Libraries provide them with data management services. Myoung Wilson said that committing an NBL faculty line to South Asian Studies was questionable; for example—in terms of collection development—a significant portion of the Women and Gender Studies collection is already devoted to South Asian issues. [There followed general discussion of the need for a science data curation program and the feasibility of implementing it.] Mary Fetzer acknowledged the pull between traditional concerns and new opportunities, but urged that the Libraries push out to new boundaries without sacrificing traditional functions. [There was general discussion of administrative adjustments—including the hiring of a Director of the New Brunswick Libraries—to accommodate the library faculty’s taking on new responsibilities; the Strategic Planning Committee was mentioned as a resource for further discussion.]
In the interest of calling the question, discussion moved to other proposed positions. Ryan Womack suggested that—if CETH was not to be supported as in the past—the duties of the Humanities Librarian could be assumed by the Digital Initiatives Librarian. Françoise Puniello reminded him that part of the skills set of the Humanities Librarian were Latin, Greek, and Philosophy (Rutgers boasts the leading Philosophy collection in the U.S.). Jeris Cassel read a description for a proposed Multimedia Librarian position. In response to questions, John Shepard explained that the idea for the position emerged from the work of the Media Task Force (of which John was a member), which had just submitted its report. The Multimedia Librarian would coordinate RUL’s participation in new media consortia and provide creative guidance for a team supporting media authoring software that would enable faculty and students to produce multi-media projects.
After further brief discussion of the remaining proposed positions, a secret ballot was taken in which the each member of the quorum of NBL faculty members indicated a prioritization of the ten proposed positions. The results were to be tabulated by Jackie Mardikian (NBLF Chair) and Jeris Cassel (Exploratory Committee Chair) and returned to the Exploratory Committee for submission to the University Librarian’s Cabinet.
The meeting adjourned at approximately 3:50 p.m.