University Senate Committee Report, AY 2004-2005

Libraries and AcIS Committee


The Committee on Libraries and AcIS met regularly throughout the Fall and Spring semesters.  Regular attenders were Suzanne Bakken (tenured, Nursing), Rachel Bell (Stu., TC), Alysse Jordan (Libraries), Kathleen Kehoe (Libraries), Vace Kundakci (administration, AcIS David Bornstein (Stu., GSAS)), Carol Lin (non-ten., Biological Sciences), James Neal (VP  & University Librarian), Fran Pritchett (tenured, A&S), Patricia Renfro (Dep. University Librarian), Bruce Robbins (ten, A&S/H),  Nancy Ronning (alum.), Sam Silverstein (ten, P&S), Catherine Taylor (researcher, SW),  and Jeremy Waldron (ten., Law).  Senator Waldron was Chair. 


1.  Reports and Discussion

A lot of the Committee’s business consisted (as it does every year) in hearing and discussing reports on various developments and studies within the library and ACIS systems. These reports and discussions characteristically do not involve action or resolution on the Committee’s part but are an invaluable basis for Committee members’ understanding of the systems and its problems. During the year, reports in this category heard and discussed by the Committee included:


$          budget issues

$          collection development

$          plans for the Human Rights Archive

$          reorganization - new office of VP for IT

$          instructional computing

$          master space planning in the libraries system, including plans for the new Science Library

$          RECAP Offsite Storage facility at Princeton – ongoing growth and usage etc.

$          Digital Library Program


2.  Scholarly publishing

As it did last year, the Committee devoted a lot of attention to issues about scholarly publishing, and open access issues.  Throughout the year, we heard a number of reports on this issue from Jim Neal and Patricia Renfro.  After the tabling of its Scholarly Publishing Resolution in the full Senate last year, the Committee considered and drafted a briefer and crisper resolution expressing the Senate’s commitment to – and urging the University to commit to – the principle of open access, and urging faculty members to be alert to and enthusiastic in their support of this issue, particularly as it affects their own dealings with publishers.  The resolution, which is attached to this report (infra, p. 3), was presented to the full Senate on April 1 by Fran Pritchett, and passed unanimously.  It is hoped that we can build on this in 2005-6, and in particular offer support and resources to faculty members in the decisions they make about signing or amending copyright assignment or retention forms when they publish scholarly material. 

3. Instructional Computing

The Committee had a number of discussions of the use of various instructional computing resources in various schools, and the prospects of changes to some of the instructional computing infrastructure (changes to Courseworks, for example).  It was noted that, particularly in CUMC, the use of (and adeptness in) instructional computing techniques and resources is still very uneven. One concern that was noticed is that there is still very little in the way of high-end resources to support very advanced instructional computing techniques such as simulation.


4. Television Monitors

Great concern was expressed on the Committee about the introduction of television monitors into the lobbies of  academic buildings, which not only display information specific to the given building or the school and departments that occupy it, but also broadcast (e.g.) CNN as a sort of default mode.  The existence of such monitors in the Lobby of the Mudd (Engineering) building was noted.  Opposition was expressed to prospect that CU building lobbies might become like airports, with television sets blaring in a distracting manner.  Some doubt was expressed as to whether this is the business of this Committee.  However, it was resolved to keep an eye on this problem, and if need be warn the Senate about this change in our physical environment.


5. IT Reorganization

The Committee discussed the reorganization of IT administration at Columbia.   We noted that this might have some ramifications for the Committee itself.  In the coming year, we should consider (and the Senate should consider) whether we want to continue with a single committee addressing libraries issues along with information technology and information services (including nstructional computing), or whether we should split into two committees or two sub-committees, with occasional joint meetings



6.  Other Issues

Other issues raised by Committee members, discussed by the Committee, and referred for further consideration included:


$          the Columbia Copyright Center

$          representation of Science departments in libraries’ decision-making

$          alumni relations

$          peer-to peer file sharing


The last of these – peer-to-peer – file-sharing and the University’s attitude towards and responsibilities in respect of this practice is something to which the Committee will have to devote more attention in 2005-6.


The Chair would like to express his thanks to the Committee, his particular thanks to James Neal for his help and support this past year and to Fran Pritchett for her willingness to represent the Committee at Senate meetings which the Chair was unable to attend.  Thanks also to Justine Hope-Blau for her administrative work.




For Senate 4/1/05                                                                                                        Passed 4/1/05

Resolution Concerning “Open Access”

From the Committee on Libraries and Academic Computing


WHEREAS the Senate is empowered by University statutes §23 (c) and (e) to “work for the advancement of academic freedom... [and]  initiate and review policies to govern the University’s relations with outside agencies for research, instruction, and related purposes,” and


WHEREAS the principle of open access to the fruits of scholarly research is increasingly being adopted and pursued by universities and in the scholarly community at large, and


WHEREAS Columbia University continues to be in the forefront of open-access endeavors, through its advocacy activities and its digital library programs, and


WHEREAS technological, legal and economic barriers continue to be erected to obstruct or limit open access, and


WHEREAS the availability of the fruits of scholarly endeavor ought to reflect the conditions of cooperative endeavor and common resources under which scholarly work is produced,




1. That the Senate put on record its support for the principle of open access to the fruits of scholarly research;


2. That the Senate urge the University to advance new models for scholarly publishing that will promote open access, helping to reshape the marketplace in which scholarly ideas circulate, in a way that is consistent with standards of peer review and scholarly excellence;


3. That the Senate urge the University to monitor and resist efforts to impose digital rights management regimes and technologies that obstruct or limit open access, except as necessary to secure rights of privacy;


4. That the Senate urge the scholars of Columbia University to play a part in these open-access endeavors in their various capacities as authors, readers, editors, referees, and members of scientific boards and learned associations etc., (a) by encouraging and collaborating with publishers’ efforts to advance open access, (b) by retaining intellectual property rights in their own work where this will help it become more widely available, and (c) by remaining alert to efforts by publishers to impose barriers on access to the fruits of scholarly research.