University Librarian's Cabinet: Minutes of the October 21, 2008 Meeting

Agnew, Boyle, Denda, Dent, Fredenburg, Fultz, Gaunt, Golden, Sewell, Winston
Videoconferenced: Cvetkovic

University Librarian's Report Gaunt

Gaunt reported on the announcement by Governor Corzine regarding planned give backs this year from state departments and the outlook for next fiscal year. We will discuss this further in the budget discussion agenda item.

She reported on several discussions at the ARL membership meeting that will affect how we plan for the future. There was continued discussion about Libraries' use of "fair use" in copyright, especially as it relates to electronic reserves. Most directors think that Libraries will be getting out of e-reserves completely in the future and that "reserves" will be part of the course management systems; faculty will handle what is needed by linking to the Libraries' collections or scanning print materials themselves. There was continuing discussion about the future of the federal depository system and the duplication of print materials in a primarily electronic environment. Special Collections' cataloging was another topic with interest in minimal cataloging to expose collections and fuller cataloging when materials are used. A report on special collections, their cataloging and preservation, is forthcoming. There was a discussion on preservation of print collections generally in light of the Googlization of major library collections, and joint print repositories.

Gaunt, Agnew, and Mullen attended the CNI/ARL "Reinventing Science Librarianship" forum that followed the ARL membership meeting. It was well attended with librarians from the ARL community and medical libraries. Most of the speakers were faculty who discussed the future of science and the implications for libraries. The focus was entirely on data and that future science will be dependent on and significantly data driven. This will occur at the highest level with a huge cyberinfrastructure for "big science" as well as at the local level with "small science," and speakers noted that in many ways the need is greatest at the local level. This involves the capture, preservation, description, and interoperability of scientific data. There was discussion about the kinds of staff needed to work in this environment, the need of the MLS degree and the library schools' ability to offer such programs, and the support that universities will need to give to this development. The PowerPoint slides from the presentations will be posted on the public portion of the ARL website soon.

The overall impression of the various discussions pointed to a major change in research libraries over the next 10-25 years with a greater emphasis on the role of librarians and services they bring to the university, and an elevation of collaboration for collections that is more global than local, with a decline in print collections. There was an expectation that an agreement reached by the publishers with Google over the mass digitization of print collections not in the pubic domain would be reached. If positive, this would provide a mass of materials available to all libraries and have a major impact on services and collections.

Budget Discussion Gaunt

The Governor has asked all departments in the state to model a 5% give back this fiscal year because of budget shortfalls due to declining revenues. Some of this is due to the national economic problems. New Jersey's tax structure is progressive and depends heavily on the upper echelon earners (40% of New Jersey taxes are paid by 1% of the population). With the debacle on Wall Street, and the decline in consumer spending, tax revenues will be weaker than projected. The economic situation is also affecting the university and it is unclear whether the governor will also expect higher education to give back funds this fiscal year. It is very likely that we will have a budget cut in next fiscal year. As a result, VP Furmanski has asked all units to model cuts for this year and next year. Our figure is $934,000. Our plans for the give back do not need to be exactly the same as the permanent cuts as of July 1, 2009.

Fredenburg and Hendrickson shared figures for where our spending is at this time and options for future planning. Our planning for the future should take several things into consideration: a review of our statistics that show what activities have been declining or changing; activities that could be done differently or more efficiently; things that are happening in the state or nationally that will affect what we do or can do; and an understanding of where research libraries are going. Our decisions on reductions should focus on user needs, and on protecting core infrastructures that will allow us to function into the future. We will try very hard to avoid layoffs, and consider moving personnel into vacant positions if jobs are changing. We will close faculty ranks where we have expertise.

In reviewing the current financial situation, we have frozen faculty and staff positions early enough to have some flexibility in decision-making. Currently we have 22 frozen positions that would give us $1.2 million in salary savings to meet our $934,000 target. Sewell has estimated that we can save $200,000 in reducing duplicate subscriptions and cutting some others. Our total operating budget is $1.6 million and a fair amount of that is already spent. It would be difficult to give back a significant portion at this time, but we will have to consider some reductions for a permanent give back.

After some discussion of options we agreed that we should take $300,000 from collections and keep $634,000 in positions frozen this year to accrue salary savings for this year's give back. We will then need to determine what we wish to do for a permanent reduction that will include cuts in all three areas. It is most important to consider the positions that we wish to recruit both staff and faculty now and for next year. We will need to consider all good ideas and use the upcoming State of the Libraries meeting to engage faculty in staff in a discussion of options.

State of the Libraries - Fredenburg

Fredenburg used the previous discussion as a lead-in to plans for the State of the Libraries program that will be different than in the past. We agreed that it would be timely to use the State of the Libraries for a broad discussion of future planning in a difficult economy. Gaunt will do a review of the past year and activities addressing our themes for this year. In addition, she will address issues in the broader library environment that will have an affect on our own planning, activities in the Libraries that are changing, and future directions in research libraries. Following the "setting the stage" presentation, we will ask groups of staff and faculty to address a number of key questions in our future planning, and collect these ideas for our planning. We will teleconference to Camden and Newark, and some New Brunswick faculty and staff will be asked to attend on those campuses so there can be a mixed group to stimulate discussion. Gaunt will send a message to RUL Everyone announcing the meeting and its focus this year.

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