University Senate                                                                                          April 11, 2008

 

LIBRARIES COMMITTEE:

2007-08 ANNUAL REPORT

This is to summarize the Libraries Committee’s work from April 2007 through April 2008.  The Committee recognizes the general excellence of Columbia’s libraries. Nonetheless, in the last year it has sought to determine whether, at the margins, there are opportunities to improve library services for some subset of Columbians with special needs.

I. Medical Center Library

1. Budget
The Medical Center’s Library has, for some time, been administered quasi-independently of the Morningside Libraries.  There are, however, numerous ties between the Medical Center’s library and the downtown libraries, including infrastructure such as the common card catalog.  

For the last 5 years the Medical Center Library’s budget has grown much more slowly than that of the Morningside Libraries. Its acquisitions budget has been increasing at 2% per year, while that of Morningside Libraries has been increasing at 8% per year. Salaries of Medical Center Library personnel are reportedly lower than those of Morningside Libraries personnel with comparable responsibilities and training. This has made it difficult for the Medical Center Library to hire and retain staff.

2.  Services to NY Presbyterian Hospital
Medical Center Librarian Alena Ptak-Danchak analyzed time spent by Medical Center Library staff in mounting training sessions and providing assistance to NY Presbyterian Hospital residents and staff. Her analysis shows that these activities consumed between 25% and 40% of Medical Center Library staff time. As much as 46% of Medical Center Library web hits come from NY Presbyterian Hospital sites.

Ms. Ptak-Danchak and Dr. Silverstein have met with Ms. Lisa Hogarty, the Medical Center’s Chief Operating Officer, to discuss the Library’s needs for additional resources. They suggested NYPH should contribute to the library’s operating budget in proportion to NYPH resident and staff use. Medical Center administrators are in discussion with the Hospital about this matter. Ms. Hogarty assured the Committee that if funds are provided by the Hospital they will be added to those allocated by the Medical Center, and not used to substitute for them. She also indicated that she and Dean Goldman will seek better coordination and a closer relationship between the Medical Center and Morningside Libraries than has prevailed in recent years. 

3.  Moving the books
The Committee was informed in spring 2007 of major architectural changes planned for the Augustus Long Medical Library on the Medical Center’s 168th Street campus. Accordingly some 300,000 books, monographs, and journals have been moved to temporary offsite storage until 2012. Thereafter, they will be housed in the RECAP facility in Princeton, N.J.  operated jointly by Columbia and Princeton universities and the N.Y. Public Library. Faculty and students will be able to obtain these books and journals during their temporary storage, and will have even better access to them once they are housed at the RECAP facility in Princeton. Selecting the books and journals to be saved and moved, identifying a temporary storage site that allows access to these materials, arranging for their permanent relocation to Princeton, and accomplishing this in a limited time frame with existing staff and a limited budget was extremely challenging.  In addition, a highly unusual agreement with Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Science in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania was negotiated by Vice-president Pat Molholt, whereby the Tanzanian university agreed to pay for the packing and shipping of over 900 journal runs, keeping this material from the landfill.  The Committee thanks Dr. Molholt and Head Librarian Alena Ptak-Danchak for their efforts.

II. Library Services:  Action items.

1. Study space.
A. General. The Committee recognizes that traditionally, university libraries have provided both information services and quiet havens for study. The Committee applauds the libraries’ efforts to keep pace with demand but believes that the best long-term solution to this problem is to make available as many classrooms, department libraries, etc. for this purpose as possible. 

B. Morningside Campus. At the urging of student senators, the Committee has worked with the Registrar’s office for the last 18 months to address pressing student needs for study space, especially at exam time. The Registrar has made many more classrooms available for study, especially around mid-term and final exam times. Student senators and notices in Butler Library have informed students of the availability of these study spaces. This appears to be a viable interim solution to the need for individual study space.

However, the need for group study spaces that accommodate 5–8 people, are internet accessible, and contain smart boards or projection equipment allowing data sharing, has increased markedly. At the suggestion of Sharyn O’Halloran, the Libraries, Education and Information Technology Committees have met with the Registrar to discuss needs for such study spaces. At a minimum, this group suggested keeping as many classrooms open for study 24/7 as possible.

C. Medical Center. Student senators representing Public Health and Nursing have described a very large unmet need for study space at the Medical Center campus. The renovation of the Medical Center’s Library to create a new Student Teaching and Learning Center will reduce Medical Center Library study space from ~700 seats to ~100 seats at the lobby level and ~100 seats on the lower level. It will make available a number of internet-capable small rooms suitable for study groups of 5-7 people. The Libraries Committee has not yet begun to assess the impact of these changes.  

2. Other Services.
A. Copying.  Students in the School of Public Health are allotted 700 pages of copying/ year. They can only “charge” copying at the Medical Center campus. Many students from the Medical Center’s campus study in the libraries on the Morningside campus.  They would like to be able to use their copying charge cards interchangeably in the machines on both campuses. This week the Committee was informed by Senator Callahan and Ms. Hogarty that the printing systems at the Morningside and Medical Center campuses will merge into one trans-university system enabling  students to use their print quotas in all university libraries.

Students reported there are too few printers, and too few that print double-sided, to meet the demand at the Medical Center’s library. Senator Callahan and Ms. Hogarty have informed the Committee the Medical Center Library will install 16 new printers in early May. There will be a maintenance contract requiring Hewlett-Packard to check on the machines daily, and for immediate repair of any that are malfunctioning. In addition, printers will be replaced every two years instead of every four as occurred previously.  

B. Buses. There is a need for longer hours of bus service, and increased service at peak times, between the Medical Center and Morningside campuses. The Committee heard reports of would-be passengers sometimes waiting a long time for the bus only to find the bus could not accommodate all of them. Senator Callahan and Ms. Hogarty informed the Committee that there will be an increase in bus services between the two campuses from 730pm-1230am so that students can safely/freely go back and forth between the Morningside and Washington Heights campuses.

3. Columbia’s Secondary School.
The Committee invited Dr. Jose Maldonado, the school’s principal, to its last meeting to indicate its support for the school, and to inquire about the school’s faculty, staff, and student needs for Columbia library services. Columbia Librarian James Neal and Dr. Maldonado will meet to discuss these matters.

4. New Initiatives in the Morningside Libraries (for information purposes only):
● Recruited Kenneth Crews from Indiana University to head the new Copyright
Advisory Office that will provide education and guidance on copyright to university  faculty, students and administrators. 
● Recruited Rebecca Kennison from the Public Library of Science to head the new Center for Digital Research and Scholarship, which will work with faculty and researchers to integrate digital technologies into their scholarly work.  This center will develop a strong partnership with the Center for New Media Teaching and Learning. 
● Recruited Michael Ryan to head the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, which is expanding special collections, improving access to them, and integrating original sources into the curriculum at Columbia.
● Initiated agreements with Google and Microsoft to digitize significant portions of the historical collections at Columbia for access and use over the network. 
● Initiated regular briefings with departmental faculty on key developments in the libraries and in scholarly publishing that influence their work.

On behalf of the committee,

Samuel C. Silverstein (Ten. P&S) and
Frances Pritchett (Ten, A&S/Hum), co-chairs