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College & Research Libraries News

CONFERENCE CIRCUIT: University Libraries Section at Midwinter: A wrap-up of activities

The rapid pace of change in the library world is both the most exhilarating and the most stressful aspect of professional life for me and, I would suspect, for other librarians, as well. Neither we as informa- tion professionals nor our parent organi- zations can afford to sit still for even a moment. And our professional organiza- tions must change, too, if they are to sup- port us into the future.

It was this train of thought that led me to invite a trained facilitator, Sue Baughman of the University of Maryland, to a University Libraries Section (ULS) Executive Committee meeting at Midwinter. Baughman’s talent and well-tested techniques resulted in the generation of dozens of insights and ideas for making ULS a stronger, more member- oriented, responsive, and effective organization.

The work we did together at Midwinter will undoubtedly make it possible for us to move forward in creative ways. Not only will it enable us to improve ULS and provide more opportunities for our members, but we will also be able to make a more substantial contribution to the work of ACRL and ALA.

I welcome your ideas on how ULS can serve its members, our libraries, and our profession more effectively.—-Julia Zimmerman, Ohio University, Julia .Zimmerman @oh io. edit

Committees and discussion groups

The ULS Executive Committee met twice during Midwinter and has begun examining roles and potential directions for ULS. The first meeting included a special session, facilitated by Sue Baughman, to help the Executive Committee identify future directions for ULS.

A large number of issues were identified, but several key areas were seen as especially relevant for ULS, given the section’s primary focus on university libraries. The group ultimately identified four areas of special importance for ULS to address in the next several years. These areas were: 1) standards and guidelines and how we measure ourselves, 2) scholarly communication issues, 3) changes in higher education and the concomitant changes in the role of libraries, and 4) involvement in accreditation processes.

The results of the facilitated meeting were referred to ULS’s Policy and Planning Committee. This committee responded at the second meeting of Executive Committee with an initial recommendation to expand the number of ULS committees and broaden involvement of the section’s membership. The recommendation included the creation of new committees on service assessment, scholarly communication, and accreditation, as well as examining recruitment and retention of ULS members and a review of the ULS mission.

The Standards and Guidelines Committee has continued to pursue new standards for university libraries that are more oriented to outcomes and assessment, similar to the standards for college libraries. Lori Goetsch (University of Maryland), this committee’s chair, received the Executive Committee’s endorsement to continue collaboration with the College Libraries Section and the Community and Junior College Libraries Section to consider a single, unified set of standards for all academic libraries.

The ULS Public Service Directors of Large Research Libraries Discussion Group addressed proposals for expanding its membership, as well as several substantive issues. The new recommendation on membership includes all current members as of 2000. The top 33 ARL libraries, by volume count, up to a maximum of 50 institutions, would also be included. Diane Strauss (University of North Carolina), the group’s convenor, reported that they will be voting on this proposal by the ALA Annual Conference in June. The group also discussed library security issues and Web site usability studies during its regular meeting.

The ULS Current Topics Discussion Group organized its session around the topic of what academic libraries can do to enhance the role of the library as a “place” on campus. Betsy Baker (Northwestern University), the group’s covenor, presented a newly coined term “inreach”—that is, establishing facilities and services that draw our library users back into the physical place of the library.

The Current Topics session included presentations from three institutions with innovative new facilities in place, or anticipated. Ruth Kifer described George Mason University’s unique Johnson Center, a multiuse facility that provides a wide range of services to students, including some library and information services. Lynn Sutton described Wayne State University’s new undergraduate library and some of its nontraditional programs. The last presentation was by Richard Meyer, who presented plans for the new information commons at Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as long-range plans for a new innovative Learning Resource Center. In addition to these progressive facilities, he described several innovative library inreach programs, such as lunch and instructional sessions for senior administrators’ secretaries. The discussion group’s session was well received with more than 80 attendees present.—John Lehner, University of Houston, jlehner@uh.edu

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