2001-2002 Year-end Committee Reports
for discussion at Council on October 2, 2002
by-laws state that, "The Committee on Libraries shall advise
the director of libraries on the policies, development, and operation
of the University libraries."
addition, this year's Committee was specifically charged as
to identify alternatives to libraries as study space for those
who do not require access to the libraries' collections.
discussions with library staff of the appropriate allocation of
resources to digital vs. print media. Incorporate students'
apparent strong preferences for off-site access to digital sources.
improvements in the authentication system.
Committee met five times to consider these and other issues which
arose during the course of the year. Additional topics covered during
these meetings include: the survey on service quality, the library
cybercafe, electronic journals and electronic publishing, need for
strategic reviews of specialized libraries, the new Borrow Direct
service and information literacy.
Monitor improvements in the authentication system. In the past
year, the library has implemented a vastly improved authentication
system, EZ Proxy, for off-campus use. Unlike the previous system,
the present product does not require browser modifications, and
seems to work well with most versions of most popular web browsers.
The authentication process is based on the user's last name
and an 8-digit password which is digits 7-14 of the 16 digit PennCard
number, also known as the PennID number. This system allows access
to proprietary electronic journals and databases from off-campus
locations; users have found it to be fast and easy to use. It is
a vast improvement over earlier systems. At the fourth Committee
meeting, Michael Winkler, the library's web manager, met with
the Committee to inform us of the system's plans for even further
improvements. Among the goals for future development are a "one
login" system which would allow a user to authenticate from
off-campus once a session, and then use multiple resources without
further challenges. This effort will probably be interfaced with
the Kerberos initiative, currently being developed by ISC for other
campus authentication services. The Committee recommends that the
library coordinate with ISC, so that users can utilize a single
authentication process to access both library and other restricted
campus electronic resources.
Continue discussions with library staff of the appropriate allocation
of resources to digital vs. print media. Incorporate students'
apparent strong preferences for off-site access to digital sources.
This continues to be a controversial issue with a number of
interesting side issues. Paul Mosher, Vice Provost and Director
of Libraries, presented data on collection growth for the past five
years. Over that time period, the rate of book acquisitions was
relatively flat, with some decline last year, while additions of
printserials, e-journals and licensed information bases have
increased markedly, the latter category demonstrating a linear rise
from under 50 in 1997 to more than 200 in 2001. These trends continue
to be viewed differently by different constituencies within the
University, but there seems to be a growing campuswide consensus
that the ease of access and currency of electronic resources justifies
continued emphasis in this area. Of concern are the accelerating
costs of acquiring these materials (see section E), the ease
with which they can be misused (see section G), and the impact
of their acquisition on the traditional collection. The Committee
was reassured by Dr. Mosher that every effort is being made to maintain
print medium resources, while boldly plunging forward with the electronic
ones. This issue should remain on the Committee's agenda.
Continue to identify alternatives to libraries as study space for
those who do not require access to the libraries' collections.
The Committee discussed this topic at length, and soon realized
that the issue was much broader and involved many other facets of
University life and University institutions. At issue is the question
of the availability of late-night study space before exams. Undergraduate
students whose residence is proximate to one of the specialized
libraries on campus (e.g. Biomed, Dental, Law) would like
to have access to that library day and night, especially before
exams. This is impossible because the primary users of these libraries
become displaced, the costs of keeping the buildings open, staffed
and secure is high, and there is no demonstration that, aside from
the studious atmosphere, students are utilizing the resources that
such a library provides. On the other hand, the Committee was in
favor of taking all reasonable steps to promote student studying,
and was happy to learn that the Van Pelt Library would extend its
hours for late-night studying before exams, and that this was acceptable
to most students. This would seem to finish this issue for now.
The library system will monitor usage of the extended hours, and
should be in a good position to evaluate how this new system is
Service quality survey. The library has undertaken a University-wide
survey to ascertain how users view the quality of the service provided.
The survey was conducted on the web in February 2002, and only preliminary
data were available to the Committee this year. The Committee needs
to look at these data in detail, and to use them to make recommendations
to the library in the area of service quality.
Electronic journals and electronic publishing. The high cost
of acquiring electronic media (see section B) prompted a
discussion of how these costs could be ameliorated. One approach
is to encourage faculty to preferentially publish in journals which
are available online at no/low cost, and to encourage faculty to
organize electronic journals in their disciplines. To this end,
the library sponsored a Colloquium on Scholarly Communication on
March 1, 2001. This is seen as an emerging issue, and the Committee
needs to continue to be aware of developments on and off campus.
Need for strategic reviews of specialized libraries. The University
of Pennsylvania Library spans the entire campus, and draws strength
from the unification of library activities under one administration.
Nonetheless, specialized libraries, located in the various schools
have their own independent missions, which need to be addressed
separately. Pioneering this idea was Vice Provost for Research Neal
Nathanson, who voiced his concerns over the strategic planning at
the BioMedical library in particular. Dr. Nathanson presented the
case for a separate review process for specialized libraries to
the Committee, which found the case compelling, and concurred with
other segments of the University that such a review was warranted.
The Committee was advised that a steering committee consisting of
the Deans of SAS, Nursing and SOM was being organized to prosecute
the review. The outcome of this process should be reviewed by the
Information literacy. Nick Okrent, library coordinator for information
literacy informed the Committee about plans to provide increased
information literacy among students and faculty. At the heart of
the discussion is the question of how proper use of the expanded
information sources available to us should be taught, and what measures
need to be taken to prevent improper use. One approach is to educate
faculty, so that they can incorporate information literacy concepts
into regular course work. Alternatively, there are plans for an
information literacy center in Van Pelt Library for faculty and
student use. Major topics which need to be covered are critical
evaluation of electronic information sources, and plagiarism. The
ease of cutting and pasting text and figures from online resources
dramatically increases the temptations for improper use of source
material. Another idea in this is for the library to acquire plagiarism
detection software, and make this available to both students and
faculty. This idea was endorsed by the Committee. This topic needs
continued Committee concern.
Committee needs to monitor library resource allocation to make
sure that all constituencies are well served.
Committee should review the Service Quality Survey data and make
recommendations based on its findings.
Committee should continue to advise the library on issues relating
to digital publishing, and the acquisition of online journals.
segments of the University community are encouraged to increase
their information literacy, and the library is commended for its
efforts in pressing this important issue.
Marjorie Bowman (Family Practice/Med); Harold Dibble (Anthro) Barry
Eichler (Asian and Middle Eastern Studies); Leif Finkel (Bioengr);
Ellis Golub (Biochem/Dental); John H. Holmes (Epidemiol/Med); Edward
Peters (History); David Stern (Asian and Middle Eastern Studies)
Graduate Students: Katie Allard (GSAS); Jennifer Baldwin
(GSFA); Hilary Smith (GSAS). Undergraduate Students: Aaron
Levy (Col 03) PPSA: Deborah Bolton Stagg (Wharton Inst.
Res.) Ex Officio: Edwin Greenlee (Biddle Law Library); Paul
Mosher (Director of Libraries) Invited Guest: Neal Nathanson
(Vice Provost Research) Staff: Alison McGhie (Office of the
Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 6, October 1, 2002