University Librarian's Cabinet: Minutes of the September 14, 2010 Meeting

Agnew, Fetzer, Fredenburg, Gardner, Gaunt, Golden (videoconference), Izbicki, Niessen, Puniello, Winston
Boyle, Fultz
K. Denda

UL Report – Gaunt

Dean Jim Hughes gave a presentation at the recent Deans Council meeting on the state of economy in the country and in New Jersey. The message was not a positive one. The state sustained a large loss in private sector jobs between 2008-2010. As the country added jobs, New Jersey lagged far behind. We are 46th in the country related to employment gains. What this means is that New Jersey's economic recovery will take much longer than the rest of the country. Hughes predicts five years. This means that there is less revenue available to the state to allocate to programs.

A recent Wall Street Journal article on recruiting placed Rutgers 21st in the country overall. This is good news for Rutgers graduates. Recruiters claim that they focus heavily on public institutions of higher education because of the breadth of their programs and the excellence of the students. Some of the data is broken down by disciplines, and the Rutgers Business School ranks 3rd in the country for recruiting.

The National Research Council will be releasing the data of its assessment of research doctorate programs to universities on September 20th. The report will be made public on September 26. The data was collected in 2007 and covered 2005-06, so it is not very current. A guide to the methodology was published in 2009. The data to compile rankings included information on research activity (publications, citations, % of faculty with grants, honors and awards, etc.), student support and outcomes (#of PhDs, % receiving financial support, % completing the program in 6-8 years, % of graduates employed or Postdocs, etc.), and diversity and interdisciplinarity of the programs. The Graduate School and VP Furmanski will be helping deans understand the data and interpret reports.

Don Smith, OIT, reported at the Deans Council that there is a big growth in online course enrollments. In the 2008-09 year there were 2,988 students enrolled compared to 6,383 in 2009-10. In the Fall 2010 semester alone there were 4,308. For these students the university supports three course management systems—Pearson, Blackboard, and Sakai. OIT and various schools will be investigating whether the move to a single courseware system would be beneficial for students and improve the kinds of support the university is able to provide.

VP Furmanski also noted that the university is in discussions with the state regarding how the state ethics policies are implemented at the university. There were initial agreements with the state that the employment requirement for state residency would be waived, as it would be impossible to recruit faculty, and that the ethics requirements on disclosing anything that was not public knowledge would not work for faculty, as their research requires them to publish new knowledge. Furmanski will keep the deans apprised of discussions.

Gaunt asked Fredenburg to report on the university's policy regarding faculty vacation. Fredenburg noted that in response to questions about vacation from faculty members she inquired from Old Queens, who informed us that the AAUP contract stipulates that 12-month appointees must be on campus the entire year except for their 22-day vacation period or unless otherwise excused by the appropriate academic officer. There is no across the board carryover allowance. Realizing that the Libraries had allowed faculty to carry up to 22 days, and that some librarians may have accrued vacation, they will be allowed to use those carryover days over a three-year period through June 30, 2013.

Report on Reference Services for the Organizational Review – K. Denda

Gaunt thanked Kayo for joining the meeting to talk about the findings of the reference services team that was created as part of the organizational review on cost efficiencies. She noted that the team did a review of what was happening now—gathering data about reference desk staffing and service hours, and the same data for Ask a Librarian and MEEBO chat reference services. For the reference desk information, the breakdown was done at the building level. It was possible to show the approximate cost of each service by using a simple formula on the average cost per hour for librarians and student/voucher labor. These were not precise, but were used across all types of reference. What was not evident from the data was the difference in how the statistics were gathered by each person/library, the quality of the service nor the time required for each question. There was a clear difference in the amount of business among the various libraries that could relate to the user clientele and the focus of the library's collection.

In considering efficiencies or savings, it did not seem apparent how one could substitute a student/voucher worker for a librarian on any of the services because of the impossibility of predicting the type/level of question in advance. There was some discussion of segmenting services by type—reference desk for difficult questions, MEEBO for simple questions, Ask a Librarian for mid-level questions, for example. But there was support for servicing whatever question arose in all of the services rather than forcing the patron to one service or another or transferring them to something else once they initiated a "question." It was clear that the MEEBO service was very popular and growing in use, but that the software did not allow more than one librarian/staff to use it at a time. All agreed that the software needed to be upgraded/replaced to allow multiple users. There were questions about the participation of librarians in the service and whether reference desk, MEEBO, and AAL were voluntary. New services are often piloted when first offered to gain some experience, but once it is a permanent service, it is no longer voluntary but part of the Libraries' public services program. An implementation plan might specify who, when and how, but trade-offs or substitutions need to be agreed upon.

The recommendations of the team and the report were accepted by Cabinet and the following additions made: a statistics review should be made to assure that everyone is counting uniformly; USC should continue to gather and analyze data to implement changes when necessary; the MEEBO software should be upgraded/replaced; and the website should be used more effectively to lessen the need to answer repetitive simple question about our services/collections.

Cabinet thanked Kayo and the team for the excellent report and recommendations.

Organizational Changes at the Dana Library – Winston

Winston distributed a new organizational chart that was used as background to describe the functional changes at the Dana Library. Changes were made to bring the library in line with how we are now working and to be positioned better for the future. The functional operations are now arranged from seven units into four functional units coordinated by the following individuals– Ka-Neng Au for Digital/Media Services and Technical Services (in addition to being the Business Librarian), Haipeng Li for Head of Access Services (in addition to being Associate Director of Dana), Natalie Borisovets for Public Services, and Dan Morgenstern for IJS.

The major changes included the move of collection management operations into access services operations where the overall size of the department increased and staff can be cross-trained for functional similarities. In the process, a position was freed to move to the IJS as a much need collections coordinator position. Technical Services operations became a unit under Digital/Media Services and Technical Services, and the new Data Services operations were placed there as well.

As Winston noted, these are the first level changes to be made as Dana continues to review operations in light of campus needs, evolving technology, and service growth.

Core Activity Ranking – Gaunt

Gaunt reviewed the chart with the ranked list of core priorities that Cabinet developed initially in our budget reduction planning of "core and cuts" activities. She noted that the rankings data is not precise but is usable as a general statement of priorities. It was noted that many of the activities were grouped together, so that it was not possible to tease out specifics where some might have given a different ranking. Some choices were more granular than others. All agreed that despite these concerns, all the activities had been identified as core. We would not try to refine the document any further, but use it as an indication of key areas of our work. It was less apparent as to whether all these would remain priorities in their current iterations as we look to the future.


Izbicki announced that all the state fund allocations from Central have been made and given to the units so they can begin spending. He, Hendrickson and Smulewitz are reviewing our estimates on inflation and on encumbrances, such as infrequently received monographic series. We may be able to reallocate some funds if these are overestimated.

Agnew announced that the implementation of LDAP has gone very well for the last three weeks and she has not heard any complaints.

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