Report of the Committee on Libraries
University Council Committee on Libraries met four times during
year 2002-2003, and the Chair met several times with the Vice-Provost
and Director of Libraries, Paul Mosher, and his staff. For reasons
explained below, the Committee and the Director and his staff
maintained unusually close communication, virtually on a weekly
basis, during the spring semester.
The Standing Charge
from the Council Bylaws and the six Specific Charges for 2002-2003
are available upon request. After
addressing the general charge, this report will address the specific
charges by number and conclude with a particularly important
issue outside the specific charges that has loomed larger and
larger in the Committee's concerns. This issue, too, is outlined
in a letter to Chair of Council, also appended.
The Standing Charge
was met regularly and consistently, with considerable discussion
among Library staff and members of the Committee. The last two
meetings were held in the new Meyerson Conference Room, and at
one of these meetings the new Library
Home Page was demonstrated,
explained, discussed, and questioned (Penn Library Bulletin, Number 2, Spring, 2003). The Committee was also given
the Draft of the Library Strategic Plan, dated 10/03/02, as well
as detailed discussions of the new Penn Collaboratory for Teaching
and Learning. The Collaboratory has been designed with the cooperation
of SAS and the Library, with options for Wharton to join. It
is open to students and faculty. The Cafeł at the Library is in
a preliminary construction phase. Complete funding for both projects
will take around 2-3 years to raise. Although a few other universities,
notably Virginia and Michigan, have done something like this,
the Penn Collaboratory will be unique in the U.S. when it is
completed. The Conference room, the Home Page, and the Collaboratory
are striking examples of the dynamic role that the Library system
continues to play in both research and teaching technologies
at this University. The Committee reports favorably on all three,
as well as on the Draft Strategic Plan.
1. Library Quality of Service Survey
The Library provided the latest results of the Quality/Impact Service
Overview (Penn Library Bulletin,
Special Edition, Spring, 2003). The Library self-monitoring
in this area is ongoing and impressive, but there is still
little evidence that inter-university cooperation on this matter
is close. There is a national survey that we can use, but we
don't know the libraries that are being compared, and so far
the other Ivies have shown little interest. This matter might
be continued for the Library Committee in 2003-2004.
2. Closed Door Policy
The problem area
here is the Law Library, which is to be used as a research, and
not as a study area. In some instances, weekend security personnel
appear to have turned some research students away, but this aspect
is well under address by the Director and staff.
3. Electronic Classroom
The new Library
web site will make the use of the electronic classroom easier
for instructors and students. The Library continues to analyze
use and maintain the adequacy of research relations. This issue
is also addressed in Charge 6, below.
4. Development of E-journals
This area still
needs work. It is addressed from another perspective in the final
section of this report. The University of Pennsylvania Press
and the Anthropology Department are starting an e-journal locally.
5. Special Library Reviews
was no completed special Library review this year. This item
should also be moved
to next year's Special Charges.
Council Committee on Libraries cannot address this issue alone.
might designate a network of several relevant committees to work
on the problem jointly during 2003-2004. Although the problem
touches the Library, the Library's role in addressing it may
lie more in the area of instruction on proper research methods.
The Library's Research Skills and Literacy Program is working
on the issue, having offered training in more than seven hundred
and forty courses. Individual faculty members can also play a
role: all undergraduate courses ought to have at least one session
in the Electronic Classroom with a librarian devoted to research
skills and plagiarism.
There is a final
and major item that has arisen and largely overshadowed everything
else the Committee has done this year. It will continue to do
so in the future if it is not addressed now. The problem is the
rapidly and steeply rising cost of scientific, technical, and
medical journals (STM) whose publication is controlled by a very
small number of publishing firms which offer very few options
in terms of range of acquisitions and price. The problem is spelled
out in more detail in the draft letter to the Chair of Council, [below] presently
being prepared for independent Committee submission to the Provost
and Deans, which the Committee has authorized the Chair to do.
This is a matter that touches not only the Library, but also
the entire Faculty, and the Committee takes it very, very seriously.
The Chair thanks
the members of the Committee for their energetic service, as
well as our administrative staff person, Alison McGhie, and the
Vice Provost and Director of Libraries and his staff for their
cooperation, frankness, and hospitality.
April 8, 2003
letter to Mitch Marcus, copying Provost and Deans of SAS,
The University Council Committee on Libraries will,
of course, address Council's general and specific charges
in its annual report. But a matter has come up that we consider
sufficiently serious and urgent to warrant this preliminary
communication, which I plan to send to the Provost with copies
to the Deans on Monday.
very large and very few publishers of scholarly journals primarily
in the Scientific, Technical, and Medical (STM) environment
have established subscription prices and conditions that are
so expensive, prohibitive, and restrictive that the Library
System's limited capacity to meet them now threatens other
essential Library functions--and ultimately all Faculties whose
Library resources face substantial reduction if something is
not done. The Library System's account of allocated costs for
FY2004 conveys the grim news, and projections for future increases
are even grimmer.
the long run the solution may well be a drastic change in the
method and manner of scientific publication, but in the immediate
run it is essential that cost containment be achieved. This
is not a conflict between the needs of the natural sciences
and mathematics on the one hand, and those of the other faculties
on the other, since these conglomerate publishers publish print
and digital journals of many kinds. It is a conflict between
the circumstances of monopolistic publishing firms and the
resources of even the best-funded academic libraries.
be sure, the Council of Deans has recently agreed to a special
$180,000 surcharge to the Deans' budgets for FY 2002 to help
offset the cost of these serials, but this is well under the
projected cost increase of $248,000, and it is, moreover, only
temporary funding. The issue will come up inexorably year after
year as serials costs rise at a rate that the Library acquisitions
budget cannot meet.
Library has done extensive research on the impact of these
costs, and the numbers are absolutely convincing.
Library Committee unanimously agrees that this problem must
be addressed independently and has authorized me to urge the
Deans of SAS, Medicine, and Engineering in particular, as well
as the Provost, to agree to create a separate budget line for
STM publications so that cost allocations for that field may
be closely monitored and be permitted to rise as its specific
costs rise and take the burden from the Library System's operating
budget until something drastic is done about the entire problem.
is a matter of great consequence, not only to the Library System,
but to the Faculty, and regardless of whatever is done for
the long run, we are firmly convinced that action must also
be taken now. And we recommend the independent budget line
for STM publications.
Edward Peters, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History
Chair, Council Committee on Libraries
Council Committee on Libraries Chair: Edward
Peters (history); Faculty: Marjorie Bowman (family
practice & med),
Harold Dibble (anthro), Barry Eichler (Asian & Mid Eastern
st), John H. Holmes (epidemiol/med), Max Minz (CIS), Edward Peters
(history), David Stern (Asian & Mid Eastern st); Graduate
students: Johanna Jacobsen, Victoria Lilga; Undergraduate
students: Semanti Datta
(WH'05), Suzanne Friedman (COL'03); Deb Stagg (Data Admin & Inst.
Res); WPSA: Sylvie Beauvais
(health care syst); Ex
officio: Paul Mosher (vice provost & dir, libraries)
Paul George (dir, Biddle Law Library).
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