University Senate Committee Report, AY 2005-2006

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), David Ressell (Stu., Journalism) Carol Lin (non-ten., Biological Sciences), James Neal (VP  & University Librarian), Fran Pritchett (tenured, A&S), Patricia Renfro (Dep. University Librarian),  Nancy Ronning (alum.), Sam Silverstein (ten, P&S), Catherine Taylor (researcher, SW),  Vaughn Rickert (Public Health, nontenured), Hope Leichter (Teachers College tenured), Wendy Carrasco (SIPA student), Candace Fleming (VP, CUIT) 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 Amnesty and Human Rights Watch Archives, and the phenomenal record of the Libraries generally in securing archives

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

$          plans for Lehman Library renovation

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

$          Digital Library Program

$          Courseworks renovation

Candace Fleming, new IT Director for the university, was welcomed onto the committee and she provided guidance as to the university’s approach to information systems.


We also had in-person reports from and committee discussions with Sharyn O’Halloran (Chair of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Online Learning and Digital Initiatives), Pat Moholt (Director of Information Services at the Medical Center), Jim McShane (Vice President for Public Safety), and Beryl Abrams (Associate University Counsel).



2.  Space Issues and Library Usage

The Committee reviewed the shortage of study space and the problems with misused study space. Food and noise in Butler and performance of security functions were reviewed with the administration.  Jim Neal informed us of the very significant progress that has been made in increasing the number of seats in the CU Libraries, but acknowledged that it still falls short of demand.  Jim McShane (Vice President for Public Safety) informed us that the task of security personnel at the entrance to Butler was to monitor entry and exit, which made it difficult for them to monitor behavior within the library. Contact was made with the Education Committee also concerning this issue. 

A resolution—attached, Appendix 1—was presented to the Senate calling for a study of the problem and recommendations with the university to collaborate with the Libraries in providing systematically spaces outside the libraries. The resolution was passed.  Various options such as dorm lounges, cafeterias, and classrooms have been reviewed by the committee and the administration.  The Committee noted that these days study space needs to make provision for group study as well as individual study space.

            Lisa Hogarty (Executive Vice President - Administrative and Student Services) and Kevin Fox (Director, Facilities Planning and Space Management) have made contact with the Committee to discuss the university’s response to these concerns.



3.  Possible Committee Reorganization

(See draft paper attached as Appendix 2)

We considered the possible restructuring of Senate committee responsibilities in the area of Information Technology.  This was (i) mainly in response to major changes in the structure of University administration CUIT responsibilities and organization in this area, but also (ii) partly as a response to the question of the ultimate status of the Ad Hoc Committee on On-Line Learning and  Digital technology.  We initially favored recommending division into two standing committees; a reconstituted Senate Committee on Libraries and a new Senate Committee on Information Technology. 

            However, after extensive discussions and consultations, we have decided that the wiser course for the moment is to make no recommendation and keep a watching brief on this matter.  We came to the judgment that the present Committee works well, with its present assignment of responsibilities. We did not feel that this was the time to signal a separation between library functions and IT functions, so far as Senate Committee structure was concerned.



4.  Other Issues

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


$          Copyright in university sponsored research (rights of researchers and graduate students)

$          The planning for the new Science Library

$          The Columbia Undergraduate Science Journal

$           Library services for the Columbia School


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.


5. Chairmanship

Professor Waldron will be leaving Columbia at the end of this academic year to take up a new position at NYU Law School.  He has served on the Committee for virtually all his time at Columbia (since coming here in 1997), and for many years has been Chair.  This has been a wonderful experience for him, and he would like to express his appreciation to his fellow committee members – students, faculty, administration, and alumni(ae), for all their help and hard work.  Fran Pritchett and Sam Silverstein have been very generous in substituting for the Chair at Senate meetings that the Chair was unable to attend. A particular debt of gratitude and admiration is owed to James Neal, University Librarian. It has been a privilege to work with this committee.  Thanks finally to Dan Mausner of Senate Staff for all his help, energy and support.



Appendix 1:

For University Senate consideration

February 3, 2006                                                                                




WHEREAS      it is widely reported by graduate and undergraduate students that there is a heavy demand for study space in the Libraries throughout the year, and that, because of crowding, it is often difficult for students to find space there in which to work, and


WHEREAS      the Libraries, facing issues of space-scarcity themselves, have significantly expanded the space and seating available to students (by almost 1000 seats over the past three years) without being able to meet the demand, and


WHEREAS      the provision of study space for our students should not be regarded as the responsibility of the Libraries only, but as the responsibility of the whole Columbia community, and


WHEREAS      the space might be made available for study use in classrooms, dining rooms, and in Lerner Hall, and


WHEREAS      the provision of study space is not just a matter of physical space, but of furnishings, lighting, electronic access, security staffing, policies and enforcement;



(1) that the University make efforts to designate and make available study space, appropriately furnished, lit, accessed, secure and supervised, in buildings other than the Libraries, and that in particular the University consider designating parts of Lerner Hall for study space, and


(2) that the Provost, Dean of Students, or other officer responsible for space allocation report to the Senate at the next meeting on the measures taken in this regard.



Committee on Libraries and ACIS

Appendix 2


Draft:    For consideration at Libraries Committee meeting 4/27/06

For inclusion in final Report of Libraries Committee

            Also, as a paper to be sent formally to Structure and Operations


Possible Committee Restructuring

During AY 2005-2006, the Committee Libraries and Information Technology considered the question of possible restructuring of Senate committee responsibilities in the area of Information Technology. 

This was (i) mainly in response to major changes in the structure of University administration responsibilities and organization in this area, but also (ii) partly as a response to the question of the ultimate status of the Ad Hoc Committee on On-Line Learning and  Digital technology (set up by the Executive Committee in ____ to consider questions of educational technology, ventures like EPIC, FATHOM etc.)

The Senate Committee on Libraries and Information Technology has two sides to its remit: (a) the libraries and the storage, access and retrieval of books, periodicals, archives and other materials, in both paper and digital form; and (b) information technology generally at the University, which includes IT infrastructure, e-mail, academic computing, and related issues.

What we had in mind to consider was whether it was time for remits (a) and (b) to be assigned to separate standing committees—a reconstituted Senate Committee on Libraries and a new Senate Committee on Information Technology.

We considered also what would become of the Ad Hoc Committee on On-line Learning, in relation to such a split.  Opinions differed as to how to think about this.  On one account, we should consider the possible split in general terms, and determine the fate of the Ad Hoc Committee after that matter was settled.  On another view, the remit of the Ad Hoc Committee raised exactly some of the issues that might make I difficult to carry through the envisaged split in responsibilities.  I think it is fair to say that most of us who favored a split envisaged that the responsibilities of the Ad Hoc Committee might devolve back to the new Committee on IT, rather than to the newly constituted Committee on Libraries.  But we were by no means sure in our minds about that.

 The envisaged separation of responsibilities would be rough, and there would continue to be considerable overlap; and it would be important for the two committees to work together, from time to time.  But we imagined that this might be no more so in the case of this pair of committees than in the case of many other pairs of Senate committees—the present Committee on Libraries, for example and the Education Committee. Considerations in favor of the move included the following:


·        The increasing burden and unwieldiness of the present Committee’s responsibilities


·        The very considerable distinction between some IT responsibilities (e.g. IT infrastructure planning and investment) and the responsibilities related to libraries which the Committee has always regarded as central to its remit.


·        The increasingly specialized knowledge required for consideration of IT issues (again, in elation to the separate, though overlapping, specialized knowledge required for intelligent consideration of issues related to libraries).  The thought was we would have to spend all our time, not juts (as at present) much of our time, being briefed and brought up to speed in these areas.


·        The increasing prominence of IT issues in the life of the University, indicating the need for dedicated Senate attention to this aspect of our common life, without distraction from adjacent responsibilities.


On the other hand, there were serious considerations arguing against a split in Senate Committee responsibilities along these lines. These included:


·        The danger of any perception of a retrograde move in regarding libraries as just about paper materials, and as something separate from digital materials


·        The artificiality of any distinction between information storage and information access and retrieval aspects of the present Committee’s responsibilities.  Any committee dedicated to libraries would have to continue to take a very strong and sustained interest in computing, digital storage and access, and other IT issues; and it would be difficult to separate that from the emit of nay distinct Committee on IT.


·        As already noted, the difficulty of determining where Educational and Classroom Technology would fit in the new arrangement.


We accepted that ultimately, any move of this sort would be a matter for the Senate as a whole, and formally and in the first instance for the Structure and Operations Committee.  But we thought it our responsibility to consider the matter and perhaps com up with a recommendation.  We reported several times to Structure and Operations (and once also, briefly, to the full Senate) on our consideration of these issues.

There was much discussion on the Libraries Committee over several meetings and—taking very seriously on these matters—the views of James Neal (Vice President and University Librarian), Candace Fleming (VP for IT), Vace Kundakci, and other member and participants in our deliberations.  We believe we have given the matter a full and responsible airing.  The Committee is in two minds about this: there I some clear disagreement, but most of us can see both sides of this issue.  We believe that the present Committee works well, with its present assignment of responsibilities; our consideration of this issue did not arise out of any frustration with the way the present Committee is working.  Our settled view, for the time being, is that it would be a mistake to attempt this separation at this stage, for the reasons stated above.  However we believe it is important for future committees to bear this possibility in mind, particularly as the new University structures continue to settle and evolve.