Last April we met to talk about the future of the Central Libraries. We also talked about the context of our work in higher education and at Baylor. I announced the leadership for the new organization and the charge for each new department. Today I would like to provide an update on the progress we have made so far, provide a quick overview of some physical changes happening in the Central Libraries right now, and then provide a few remarks on the direction we are headed as an organization.
Progress on strategic goals
- Training of cataloging staff and implementation of RDA
- Significant contributions to Summon/OneSearch implementation
- Finalization of internal organizational structure
- Received ITS security review approval of Get It System Toolkit (GIST) ILLiad add-on
- Hired Kara Scott Long to fill the Metadata and Catalog Librarian position
- Integrated service point staffing and improved training
- Development of the first annual Library Symposium
- Very well received graduate student reception, with “speed geeking” as a highlight
- Liaison librarian implementation of numerous new avenues of outreach to assigned academic units
Scholarly Resources and Facilities
- Development of new web pages highlighting the Central Libraries’ special collections
- New procedures developed for use of the the special collections
- Broadened staff responsibilities creating backup for key functions
- Ran the Ithaka S+R Local Faculty Survey with one of the highest response rates among participating institutions, and have begun to analyze the data
- Created baseline data for time required for firm orders
Facility Changes Under Way
Last week work began to replace the “cage” door near the Dottie Riley Conference Room. The purpose is two-fold – to remove an aesthetic eyesore, and to improve security for staff work areas. The new workspaces in the former computer lab provided temporary quarters for some ITS personnel this past summer, and now are home to numerous Electronic Library personnel. As these spaces do not lock and the cage door is in our 24-hour study area, the cage door provides inadequate security. The new door will have a card reader that automatically locks the door at the end of the day. It will also match the window and door frames of the Riley suite, thus improving the appearance of the area. The cost of this project is coming from the dean’s excellence fund.
The recently formed “Delivery Services” area, also on the Garden Level of Moody, will get a face lift soon. The goals of this project are to improve the flexibility of the space by removing the fixed “pony walls” (low-height dividers that set artificial and immovable boundaries) and to refresh the appearance of the space. This project will allow for better space utilization, and will facilitate bringing the entire Delivery Services team together in one space. We are moving toward a very tight integration of the team as we implement the GIST ILLiad add-on as soon as this summer. As to the timing and speed of this project, I need only point out that we had a one-time opportunity to take care of this work. We found out in mid-December that we received a reimbursement from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission for ILL lending to public libraries. We have received this check in the past, but in light of the severe cuts to the TSLAC budget did not expect to receive any money this year. In most past years this check was just turned in to the University’s general account. Last year we asked for permission to use the reimbursement to replace the Library’s aging van and to add some much needed shelving. This year we asked for authorization to use the funds for the refresh of the Delivery Services space. The estimate for the work was reasonable, but exceeded the funds received from the state. The balance of the project is coming from cost savings and deferred purchases from our FY2014 budget and from Moody’s FY2014 repair and maintenance budget. This money goes away at the end of May, hence the need to move quickly on this project. Some savings from how we are managing the project will likely mean we get some funds back. If we can complete the project quickly enough we will be able to use the returned funds for needed equipment. I can’t state clearly enough that this was a unique opportunity to spend money on staff (non-public) space.
We are also moving the three staff members in Liaison Services currently housed in Moody 104 (the big suite shared with ILL) to the Liaison Services suite on the first floor of Jones. This will bring together the entire Liaison Services staff. At the same time, Linda Mangum is moving to Delivery Services, and the government documents processing work will be absorbed into the Delivery Services workflow, where it is a more natural fit in terms of the type of work performed.
The benefit of the Delivery Services renovation and the moves is that Moody 104 will be vacant by this summer. We plan to use this space as a “sandbox” to try out some ideas for a “research commons” or “digital scholarship center.” We are engaging in conversations with a variety of potential stakeholders now. We expect to make only minor changes to the space, focusing more on the services offered. There will be more information on this initiative as it develops. If you have ideas, please share them with me (Jeff) or your director.
Finally, we are expecting to install a new “people counter” system for the Central Libraries very soon. The current system is providing very inconsistent (= worthless) data. The new system will be much more accurate, and will add the ability to count Moody foyer visitors.
Where We Are Headed
Finally, I want to talk about overall direction and changes you can expect as we move forward.
We are here to help Baylor students get an excellent education, and to support the teaching and research of our faculty. I know you all care about this work, and are committed to making Baylor a great place to learn and a great place to work. Baylor is striving to keep a Baylor education affordable. To that end, the University intends to rely less and less on tuition increases, and is expecting “judicious stewardship” from all of us. As I said last year, we must expect to work within our current budget. New positions are going to be very difficult to come by. Yet if we want to remain relevant, we must move into new ventures. If we are to be the research library for this research university, we must invest in services of the future. That means we cannot be unreservedly tied to services of the past. We have successfully re-purposed many positions on the public services (now Liaison Services) side of the house over the past decade. As I stated last year, the time has come for us to streamline and find efficiencies on the Delivery Services side. GIST will be one tool to help us, but what we really need is for everyone to ask “Is there a better way to do this? Do we still need to do this at all?” We don’t need small changes – we need big, bold changes. I believe these ideas can come from all of us. Please, share your ideas with your unit leaders, with your directors, with me. Together we can find ways to make all of our work more meaningful, and to re-purpose resources, including our personnel budget, to create the library of the future.