The University Library Committee works for you

Oct 27, 2005

The Iowa State University Library includes Parks Library, the e-Library@Iowa State University, the Veterinary Medical Library, and three subject-based reading rooms - Design, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences. The Library is central to the university's mission to create, share, and apply knowledge to make Iowa and the world a better place.

The University Library Committee (ULC) is charged with: 1) advising the Dean of the Library regarding proposed policies, 2) counseling the Dean on the general development and administration of the library, and 3) expressing the opinions and sentiments of the faculty, staff, and students relative to Library policies and their administration. The members of the ULC are appointed by the Provost, with each college having a representative. In addition, the Committee has Faculty Senate, undergraduate student, graduate student, and staff representatives. Appointments are for three years and are renewable.

The University Library is currently facing a number of critical issues and the ULC advises the Dean of the Library on ways to address these issues. One such critical issue is the library budget. Although the recent budget crisis has been problematic for the entire University community, it has been particularly difficult for the Library. Not only has the Library experienced over $2 million in budget reversions in the past 5 years, during the same interval, the costs of books and journals have been increasing at an average annual double digit rate (10-12%) while increases for the materials and access budget have been between 4-6%. It does not take a mathematical genius to see that declining budgets and double digit increases in costs lead to a reduction in books and journals available for faculty and students and a concomitant decline in the excellence of our information resources. In fact, there have been 4 journal cancellation projects since 1980 (81, 87, 92, 99) which have eliminated a total of 4,960 journals or over $1,000,000 from the Library materials and access budget. The ULC is currently preparing a recommendation for addressing this issue.

Although the University Library continues to face a number of critical issues (we will discuss some of them in future issues), the ULC has been instrumental in assisting the Library in making significant progress in improving technology and services. In 1999, the ULC in conjunction with the Faculty Senate and the Library Administration prepared a report recommending that the University Library establish an electronic library. The result was the development of the e-Library which, since 1999, has grown from a few to almost 7,000 electronic journals, and the e-Library currently has in excess of 13 million visitors a year. There are many other success stories and we will also discuss them in future issues.

Perhaps the most important task of the ULC is to communicate with our constituents (i.e. each of you) who are the students, faculty and staff that are patrons of the library. Our task is to represent your interests when it comes to library resources and service. This past year the ULC initiated a new means of communicating. Each department/unit within the University has a library liaison (usually a departmental faculty member) who works closely with a subject librarian in building and maintaining library collections in their departmental scholarly disciplines. In December, the ULC sponsored a university wide seminar for all the departmental library liaisons. The seminar had two major goals. The first was to solicit input from the liaisons on issues they are facing and the second was to inform liaisons about the critical issues facing the library. Liaisons were also strongly encouraged to meet with their departments/units and discuss these issues. The ULC and Library will focus on improving its communication with students and faculty and on providing information to the library's users about these important issues. Additional library liaison meetings will be conducted by the ULC in the coming year. In addition, the ULC will continue to address issues such as the budget, the quality of Library services, scholarly communication, open access, copyright, and a host of other issues that directly affect the University Library and its patrons, namely, the students, faculty and staff of Iowa State University.

If you are interested in YOUR university library you are encouraged to express your interest by volunteering to serve on the ULC or as a departmental library liaison, or by simply communicating your concerns or support to your library liaison, the ULC, or the Dean of the Library. The ULC is committed to insuring that OUR library is a center of excellence for world-class scholarship in teaching, research and professional practice.

At the heart of a great University is a great University Library. The University Library serves all of us and we must all take part in insuring that OUR University Library is the best that it can be.