Harvey Fineberg: Good afternoon. I have the privilege of calling this meeting to order, welcoming you all to this session of the Librarian's Assembly. I'm Harvey Fineberg, I'm the provost at Harvard, a position I've held since July of last year. I'm very please to be able to join you today for what is my first experience with the Librarians' Assembly at Harvard. I have a special opportunity today to get a little more insight into the kinds of work and concerns that bring you from all parts of the University together. It's especially appropriate, from my vantage point, to have that opportunity because the assignment, the main assignment that the Provost has at Harvard is to work in finding ways that the several parts of Harvard can work more effectively in concert, one with the other. A key way we often try to do that is through what we describe as inter-faculty initiatives, but the truth is that there are many elements at Harvard already that exists that in powerful ways bring together professionals , faculty and students from around the University who share certain common interests and responsibilities. I've always considered that the group of librarians at Harvard have just that quality of working independently frequently one to the other, and yet around a common purpose. I think through our University Librarian, particularly, and through the work that you have put together in the several committees and activities that the Assembly has put forward, you're expressing professionally and for the University symbolically the way in which we can come together to solve problems. So I'm very happy in that sense to be here with you.
I also have this additional comment, that the one job I had as an undergraduate at Harvard was as a librarian's assistant. I worked at a very small outpost of the vast Harvard Library system, it was in the Psychology Library--is anyone here from the Psychology Library in William James Hall? I haven't been there in a long time. It was operated then by a wonderful person named Ann Louise Katz, I don't know if any of you will remember her from those days. She was a rather stern librarian, I would say from the old school, but she was very kind to her student assistants. I've been grateful for the hour for lunch that we covered along with some other times in the afternoon. It was a wonderful experience for an undergraduate to get a little more insight into the workings of the University outside of the classes that one attended.
So, for those several reasons I'm happy to be back amongst the librarians today, and I look forward very much to witnessing and participating with you in today's Assembly. With that introduction, Michael Leach, I call on you to offer report or to invite the reports from the several committees.
Michael Leach: First, I'd like to introduce the Executive Committee members. When I call your names, would you please stand and remaining until everyone has stood up. Members at Large, Bill Mayer, Russell Pollard, Steven Riel, Scott Britton, Ellen Isenstein; Standing Committee Chairs, Jeff Cronin, Cheryl LaGuardia and Lawrence Marcus. Thank you, please be seated.
M.L.: We've worked hard to increase our presence on the web. I don't know how many of you have been to the website,< hul.harvard.edu/assembly >? All the standing committees have a presence there, including the Executive Committee. You'll find minutes of meetings there, you'll find a list of all the current members, and , of course, projects and other types of programs those committees are working on.
We've also developed and are nearly complete with a procedures manual. This is the first time the Assembly has ever had a procedures manual, and it will guide the governance of the day-to-day matters of the Assembly. We hope to have the completed version up on the web by the end of June for everyone to look at and, if they want, comment. This sort of goes beyond the bylaws and gives us an idea of continuity so we can also work cohesively on the day-to-day operations of the Assembly.
In addition, we've been working on some other items. We have a working group right now that is examining the bylaws, dealing with mail balloting, this was brought up at a previous regular meeting of the Assembly. We're examining the rules of order. We're working right now to have some teaching made available to all the membership, who are starting in the fall, dealing with rules of order. What are they? Why do we have them? And which ones should we choose as members of the Assembly?
We're also working on the membership of the benefits committee. As many of you know, there has been a call for nomination put out. That should be finalized within the month. You'll be hearing more about that. Of course, the charge is also made public.
That's all we have for the Executive Committee.
Then we can begin with the standing committee reports.
Scott Britton: Lawrence Marcus in not available today for the meeting, so he asked me to go over what the Rights and Responsibilities Committee has been working on. In addition to Lawrence and myself, other members of the committee are Barbara Burg, I don't think she was able to attend. If you are here in the audience and I mention you, please stand up; Barbara Burg, also Artis Kozbial, Susan Milstein, Kathy Hunter-Rutter, and Lynn Shirey.
What we've been working on mostly throughout the year is a revision of the handbook for librarians. I'm not sure if everyone is familiar with this, but most new employees, or all new employees should have this. When it was first published in 1991, I'm sure everyone got a copy of it. Somewhere in your office, in a desk, in a file drawer, you might find this. Now it's available on the web. Its' been updated; we've gone through every page that we have here, made sure that all the facts were accurate, and we've added a lot more.
Along with the agenda you should have been able to pick up a copy of the homepage for this. In the upper right side in the corner is the URL for this handbook and the table of contents. In addition to giving a good description of the organization of the library, there is a large section for policies. And an index is included that I think goes much further than the original handbook did. There are so many websites out there at Harvard. If we thought that they were important for librarians to have quick access to, we included them in the index. Certainly within the text itself there are links to anything that's appropriate.
This should be updated more frequently because so much of the material now resides elsewhere. If not with Human Resources, its with an individual library at their websites. So, as they update their own pages, the handbook will automatically be updated.
Please look at this. If you have any suggestions at all for additions, any corrections that you think need to made, please email or call any of the members of the Rights and Responsibilities Committee.
Jeff Cronin: I'm Jeff Cronin from Baker Library and I'm chair of the Communications and Orientation Committee. There are eight members on the committee this year, including myself and if any of them are here when I say your name, please stand up. Martin Hollick from Lamont, Mary Smith from Widener, Christy Wilbur from Widener, Mathilda van Es from Wadsworth House, Kate Bowers from the Harvard University Archives, Madeleine Mullin from Countway, Andrea Schulman from Baker.
The charge of our committee is to report to the Executive Committee of the Librarian's Assembly and our task is to encourage communication and exchange of information among the librarians of the University. Given that mission over the past year, the committee has been busy with a number of activities.
We have been bringing new librarians out to lunch at the Faculty Club. We have continued with the tradition of hosting a monthly Librarians' Table. We've established a website that displays our committee minutes, names of committee members and activities. We've started work on gathering some educational material on parliamentary procedure that will be available to Assembly members and which we will be doing more work on in the coming year. We also arranged three tours, one at the Law School Library thanks to Joan Duckett and her staff, two at the Harvard Map Collection thanks to David Cobb and his colleagues, and three at Baker Library, thanks to the Baker Library staff. In the coming year we hope to sponsor more library tours, to host a reception for new librarians in the fall at Widener, and to continue hosting the monthly Librarian's Table.
If you have any questions or suggestions as to what you think the committee is doing or what it could be working on, please feel free to contact me or the committee. Thank you.
Cheryl LaGuardia: Good afternoon, I'm Cheryl LaGuardia and I'm the coordinator of the Electronic Teaching Center in the Harvard College Library. First order of business for me is to introduce the other members of the Professional Development Committee, and I do know a number of them are here. I'd like to ask them to stand as I read their names so they can be recognized for the work that they've done on behalf of the Assembly. Jeffrey Beal, Virginia Danielson, Elizabeth Egelston, Malcolm Hamilton, Robert Keating, Martin Shriner, and Wendy Thomas.
The Professional Development Committee has worked on and completed a number of project over the year 1997-98. These project include: creating the PDC web page, accessible off the Assembly page, and mounting on it the text of several professional development workshops as well as administrative committee information. We've sponsored three spring technology workshops on introduction to XML, the elements of creating a web page, and HOLLIS Plus today: Garden of Delight or Jungle of Disorder? We've also co-sponsored several other presentations including a lively lecture hall conversation with Sherry Terkle of MIT, which was co-sponsored with the HCL Steering Committee on Staff and Organizational Development. We co-sponsored the presentation and expert panel discussion of the film "Into the Future", which was co-sponsored with the HUL Preservation Center and the HCL Preservation Services department. We have co-sponsored the Harvard University Library Digital Initiative Speaker series, co-sponsored with HUL and HCL.
A PDC sub-committee chaired by Betsy Eggleston, selected Ken Carpenter as the recipient of this year's Bryant Fellowship for his proposed work on the history of women founding, supporting, and using libraries. For the coming year, several continuing PDC members are investigating potential committee projects involving career development workshops and continuing education courses for Harvard librarians at Simmons.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Profession Development Committee as well as the many individuals, many of you are sitting here today, who contributed to and participated in the panels, the workshops and the fora sponsored by the Committee. For your hard work, and your commitment to furthering Harvard librarians' professional development. Thank you.
Ellen Isenstein: I'm Ellen Isenstein, I'm the Director of the Kennedy School Library and I'm chairing the Committee on Nominations. There are two upcoming vacancies on the Executive Committee. Michael and Steven Riel both have terms that are ending this summer, and to fill these vacancies we're putting together a nominating committee for preparing a slate of candidates. We're hoping that this time we will continue in the new tradition of having a contested election. I'm happy to report that the Nominating Committee is now almost complete. So far we have four members besides myself and I'll announce who they are and I'll ask you to stand if you're here as I call you name. Mary Croxen from the School of Design, Carrie Kent from Widener (I know she was not able to be with us) Julian Stam from Widener who also couldn't be here, and Julie Wetherill from OIS.
There is still room for one more person, so if you would like to participate please let me know in the next couple of days. You will be hearing from us soon as we begin to recruit candidates and later organize an election. Thank you.
H.F.: We have an opportunity this afternoon, and I have the privilege to introduce our guest speaker, Professor Oliver Oldman, who is the Learned Hand Professor of Law, Emeritus at the Harvard law School. Professor Oldman has been a member of the faculty since 1955 and was first appointed professor in 1961. For much of his career at the Law School, he was Director of the International Tax Program beginning in 1964 and continuing in that role for 25 years. He is an internationally recognized expert on many aspects of tax policy and law, serving as a consultant not only nationally, but to state and local governments in the United States as well as to dozens of countries around the world.
He also at the Law School served as the Director of the East Asian Legal Studies Program, where he taught many students and in 1988, for his many years of service teaching students from Japan at the Law School, he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun Third Degree by Emperor Hirohito in Japan. With that honor, among many, Professor Oldman has continued to work in teaching here occasionally part time, in consulting widely in the United States and around the world and continuing to share with many his years of expertise and reflection on tax law and policy. Today Professor Oldman is going to share with us his personal reflections on the faculty/librarian relationship. So its a privilege for me to introduce and please join me in welcoming Professor Oliver Oldman.
Professor Oldman: Recently, Harvey Feinburg and I became physical neighbors. He lives on the corner of the street at which I have lived for about the last 30 odd years. So he's the newcomer on the block. The very latest one.
Its a pleasure to be here with the librarian group because I owe so much to libraries for so many years. There are three points I think that I want to make which in the end revolve about the assigned topic about the relationship between the faculty and the librarians. The first is going to be thanks, the second one is going to be the centrality of the library to the life of the University, and the third one is what I call the outreach and responsibility point.
Before I do that, it seemed to me I ought to say a word more in the way of reminiscence of my qualifications to be here before you today. Ordinarily the only qualification you need to speak at a number of different audiences these days, is you're emeritus, they assume you don't have anything to do. So they invite you and there's a pretty good chance you'll accept. So that's often a reason for an invitation. You also learn if you've been emeritus for half a dozen years to say no more and more often and only do the ones that seem to be interesting. That's really why I'm here. As I went to figuring out my contacts with the library over the years, it was a little hard for me to realize that it is exactly sixty years ago that I first set foot in the stacks in Widener Library as a first year student at Harvard College, trying to do some research in the History I course where I'd committed myself to do a paper. I guess I got bitten at that time and have never really left the library scene except for a short term arrangement. In 1938, 39 that was the introduction.
1950-53 after I came back to the University, I came back as a student at the Law School. Life for at least some students at the Law School, particularly those who had been out for awhile with military and other things, meant that you spent a lot of time in the library. The library was a great facility for just studying, even if you didn't use the library's facilities. But in fact, if you were involved with various kinds of projects as a number of us were, the library become a crucial part of the life of a student, at least of this student. So I have these strong early recollections of obligation to the library.
From 1955 to date, I've been a member of the faculty. Several times during that period I've been a member of the Library Committee. I was broken into that function at the Law School by the great Jack Dawson, who was the chairman of the committee when I was appointed to it back in the 1960s. I had the privilege of serving guard duty one night all night at the Widener Library during the 60s and the period of unrest when it became desirable to make sure it was adequately protected. How better to protect it than have a bunch of professors there. Students might have thought they were expendable and that would be no safeguard at all, but they left us alone, so it was a very pleasant night meeting a lot of other people I'd never met before.
I've been the occasional user of many different libraries around the University. Graduate School of Design, the Harvard-Yenching, the Fogg Museum, Houghton Library... in most of those cases it was not so much for advancing a serious research project on I was on, but more for a peripheral interest, pursuing it and knowing that the library's resources were available. So that's about all, I think, I can say about my qualifications. A long life I guess is the main one, and a long acquaintance with libraries.
It seemed to me that the first item on my personal agenda here today ought to be a great big thank you to the whole library system, but in particular, to the part of it I know the best, namely, the Law School Library. I have observed over the years the ways in which the library has provided service of very many different kinds to both students and faculty. They're thoughtful in alerting faculty to particular items of likely interest to each faculty member. We now have a system where a member of the professional librarian staff is designated for each member of the faculty. We don't each have our own in the sense that the person only works with us. Each professional librarian has a stable of faculty members with whom the librarian relates. That has been a very useful addition to the scene just in recent years.
I know from talking with students, that while they don't get that same amount of service, students who know how to behave find that they can get the professional librarians to relate to them and their needs when they're working on projects of an innumerable variety from deep history to the latest problem that arises on the Internet. The library people are there to facilitate that.
It seems to me that there are not many opportunities where the faculty gets a chance to thank the librarians or the library system as a system because the occasions just really aren't there. A major retirement or something on that order brings people together and then they remember. Or if you're working with a particular person, you may be giving a particular thanks. I don't think its a common experience for members of the faculties to express the fact thanks which I know from a number of conversations are very widely spread and very deeply felt. When I talked to a couple members of the faculty and mentioned that I thought I ought to say thanks, "Oh yes, yes, that's crucial--absolutely crucial". So that feeling is one that you should know about and feel is always behind the scenes, even if you don't hear it as often as you should.
The main point, I guess, today, and I guess this group doesn't really need to be reminded of it is the centrality of he library to the University's mission, faculty and students alike. Without the library there isn't really very much there. It is so absolutely crucial to the daily life at the University and so much taken for granted that it is useful from time to time to be reminded about that. I'm always surprised that the library staff is so amazingly adaptive to the changing needs and technology over time that things do get done, changes get made. At the same time that there is this responsiveness to change, there is a deep sense of preservation of the essentials of accessibility along with reasonable opportunities for what I like to call "accidental learning". Just through browsing around the library, just being in there to observe and participate in the changing scene that is constantly going on in the library. The combination of books and people. The ways in which librarians figure out locations of different things that come in so that people, who might not otherwise, become aware of certain of books or types of material. Strategically putting those in places where students and faculty are likely to wander, then they're confronted with this thing and they wake up. That kind of strategy, that its quite clear a number of the librarians are subconsciously or consciously practicing from time to time, make the library a really great place to visit frequently. I missed it for the year and a half that it was basically closed, in a convenient way, at the Law School while Langdell Hall was reconstructed. I benefited enormously by the final result because my office is located by an easy access entrance to the new library, so that I slip in my card and there I am. I find myself that no days go by where I don't go in there at least once for something or other. That new scene is one that I can commend highly to any of you that have not yet wandered into the new library, its one of those 'must do" things that you have to do right away. Don't wait, because then you'll see why you have to come back.
In order for what I regard as a high level of success that librarians at Harvard have achieved, it seems to me that a continuing process of faculty/librarian interaction needs to be expanded to assure that the faculty is always and constantly aware of the possibilities, and that similarly, librarians remain constantly reminded of changing needs as people and circumstances change. I notice the agenda that was handed out the beginning of this meeting , a number of "shoulds" that are on here for the Assembly to do. I would have put what you have as the first item as the last item--"the awareness of the staff retirement program". Its such a crucially important issue that everyone no doubt is aware, it certainly has to be attended to. So in that sense it need not be the first one on the list. It probably should be the last one because that's the one sure thing that the Assembly is going to deal with.
The second item is the one that in part I'm here for today. As I read it, I realized that I made the same, what I think is a mistake, its called #2 at the back of the sheet--"foster increased librarian/faculty dialog." Somehow or other students slipped out of that #2 item. Of course its a little more difficult to figure out the ways in which you get sustained, intelligent interaction with students. The complaints you'll get. There'll be hundreds of complaints about minor things, but the interaction with the students at the intellectual level about what they're doing with the library and what that might better serve their needs...I'm not sure about the existence of mechanisms for that throughout the University.
Fortunately, at least, advanced research students/doctoral students are likely to make their voices heard because they see every day what they need and what's missing if something is missing. On the other hand, they're the ones who end up being the most appreciative in that respect. Figuring out the ways and means to improve this interaction, committee processes are in adequate for this purpose. The problems ought to have this kind of communication take place at a more informal level. The kind of thing that's developed in recent years at the Law School is one example. Just to get the faculty talking to each other more frequently, a couple of Deans ago there was instituted a program of Friday noon lunches whether or not there is a faculty meeting, there is a lunch there. That turns out to provide a very useful function. Then grafted onto that was a faculty workshop process. One might begin to exercise imagination and figure out ways where by to give faculties a month to month informal occasion to bring the professional librarians together with faculty members; might always be there so that faculty members know that there's a time that's gong to be there where we can go and that something that's on our mind about libraries, something we think we learned from another intuition can be brought to the attention of the librarians.
Conversely, the reverse can happen to assure that the librarians can reach more people than those who happen to be on the Committee at that particular point. Memoranda don't do the job. Memoranda only begin to cut at that problem.
The last point that I want to make is the one that I call the outreach and responsibility point. Terry Martin knows about it because I raise it in our library committee meeting at the Law School. Is the question of the extent to which University library resources ought to be available to the outside world, at what cost and in what dimensions? Its not an easy problem to solve because the library could easily be overwhelmed or could easily justify doubling its staff to satisfy the outside desires in this respect. Nevertheless, let me expand accessibility to university of library resources to the outside world, I think not only of the other states of the United States, but other countries of the world because I've observed as I visit libraries in Asia and Latin America even a couple in Africa, the hungriness of librarians in those parts of the world for access in an era where access becomes much more possible through the Internet, is one in which this library system is in a unique position to respond to. At the every least, of course, catalogs have already become available to some extent and might be more widely made available. Expanding the information about what's here to the remote corners of the world can now be done at minimal cost.
The most difficult problem is the more people know what's here, and even about things that aren't here but are listed in catalogues under bibliographical sources here, the more the demands come for getting at the material itself. The ways and means of satisfying those demands, the ways of getting other university libraries to join in a common effort to supply the outside world with modern library resources is, it seems to me, a function whose time has come to get organized. Harvard can certainly play a leading role in seeing that that gets a broader bound. Harvard itself, as big as its library system is, is not going satisfy all of these needs and demands. It can help organize the possibilities for doing that and for working out, on the one hand, pricing systems to make it literally free or almost free for those whose needs are great but whose financial resources are minimal, to charging those, for example in the law firms, at least the full cost processing of anything that we deliver for them. Making information available to government, international organizations, universities, and so on.
This is something that, it seems to me, libraries have a responsibility for, in part because of the enormous, not often really measured adequately, subsidies given by government through tax exemption, given by the private sector in their donations and support for libraries which get and attract tax benefits. The system owes to the outside world a great deal. It already gives a lot, and there's been a lot of observation that they give a lot. The question is, how much more is there that might be given without straining the university's resources while at the same time making it clearer than ever that Harvard represents one of those world resources that ought to be allowed to flower no matter what ever happens in the worst of times. Our cherished independence, our ability to raise money and so on puts us in the position of a very privileged institution, and I like to think at least at the Law School of becoming the world law library at Harvard and one that has a kind of connection and access to the world that's there.
Just as librarian/faculty relationships are important, the whole library mission in relation to its position in the world seems to me also to be important. Thank you for listening.
If there are any questions that you thought I would be able to answer or comment on I'd be glad to do that.
Ken Carpenter: I'd be curious about how Terry Martin replied to your suggestion.
O.O.: Those are in discussion now. He is very receptive to the notion that we ought to do these things, and some questions have come up in committee meetings about the cost of satisfying the needs of outsiders. From a head librarian's point of view, right away they have to worry about the cost and how does a library staff get all of its other jobs done if they spend too much time exceeding to these requests. So, working out the balance and the solutions. His answer was not no. He answer was, "Well, let's figure out how much we can do and how we can do it." Terry knows that I have spent some time raising money for the library, particularly in Japan.
At one point a few years ago I came within a hair's breadth of getting a really large sum, 30-40 million dollars from Japan to finance the whole cost of this remodeling. Then it fell through for a variety of reasons including the beginning of the Japanese economic downturn, which hit at exactly that point. Then there was some unfortunate remarks and events while then President Bush was in Japan. That had ramifications on the library fundraising initiative that I'd been working on so hard in the Japanese diet, because if the Diet would only say the right thing, then all these companies would rise up and give this money. Anyway, we did get a significant amount of money, but not enough. Terry in this whole process has certainly been very cooperative. The fact that I failed to get as much for him as I would have liked is my fault.
Impossible to hear question.
O.O.: There are two things there I think. One problem is that the faculty doesn't know how to organize its thinking about the library. In principle, of course, they can come to any of the members of the faculty committee and then the committee would raise these questions in a meeting. In practice, that method just doesn't really work. The problem is, how do you get faculty members every so often to take a few minutes and just think about the library; what is it that they're not getting or could have the library do that they don't now do because nobody has arranged it? So the faculty has, I think, a lot of responsibility for getting its act together in figuring out the changing and evolving role of the library as everything changes.
At the same time it seems to me that my criticism of the faculty there has its counterpart among the librarians in that the committee structure is not the right structure for the professional librarians in the library to have to go through to be in touch with faculty about their ideas. One of the reasons why the library system as it is so successful is that you have a group of professional librarians who, as the Provost indicated earlier, are independent people. They think independently, they have ideas, they are , indeed, professionals. On a one on one basis when they work with you, you see this coming out, you see the ideas that are there. The problem is, if librarians have some ideas about where they might be useful in this course or that course, how do they get that out? To whom do they talk to communicate that?
If the faculty member comes to them, its no problem at all. There are a number of instances where smart faculty members have co-opted library people to provide special sessions for training students and put on special programs for people doing advanced research and so on. Those are happening and they show that it can happen. The problem is, what can one do institutionally formally, but informally to increase the number of opportunities and occasions where both librarians and faculty members can interact together intellectually on that common ground. I'm not sure what the methodology is going to be for that. Its probably different in each faculty in any event.
I am certain as I've thought a out this in the last few days, that we don't do nearly enough, but that the blame for not doing as much probably has to be shared equally between the faculty and the librarians. The students probably also should get a little bit of the blame, but its much harder for students to organize except on a complaint basis. When the students want to bring food into the library and they can't do it, there's no easy place to do it, you'll hear about it. Then the library responds and gives them a place to do it and that problem gets defused.
On the serious problems of the intellectual activity in the library you don't see a lot of that student input, except amongst a few of the graduate students and some of the visiting scholars and researchers who see the tremendous resources in the library and also see that they're under used.
H.F.: Its now time for us to hear from Sid Verba, the Director of the University Library, who will discuss the status of the University Library Council initiative. Professor Verba.
Sid Verba: Thank you. Its always a pleasure to address this group and try to bring them up to date on what has been going on and thank you, Professor Oldham for his talk. I was delighted that when Ken Carpenter asked about his conversations with Terry Martin, he didn't invoke lawyer/client privilege and really told us that Terry was quite responsive to these ideas and initiatives.
These are exciting years. Years of change, years of agitation of the libraries around Harvard. One of the things that's going to keep us very busy is that there appears suddenly to be a massive amount of construction and change in all the libraries. The Law School and Terry have survived that arduous process, but there'll be change in Widener with massive renovations and Countway, Divinity School, Baker and the School of Education. The old Chinese curse is may you live in interesting times, and I think we will live in interesting times. These are going to be very difficult projects, projects that will make our lives more difficult, but I think in the long run are going to improve the quality of the Harvard University Library.
Another thing I'd like to mention is the usual appearance of the ARL rating statistics of libraries, and Harvard, as usual, is way off the scale. One standard deviation above the next nearest library. Clearly a library different from all other university libraries. Its a kind of ritual associated with those kinds of ratings, whether they be ratings of libraries, or universities or academic departments...if you're not rated at the top, you say "these rating are superficial and not really important we pay no attention to them." If you're rated at the top you say "These ratings are superficial and not terribly important, but it is nice to know that we are still rated at the top."
What I would like to say is that I don't think that this is a cause for complacency. The rating of the libraries in ARL is a rating of our collections, not necessarily of our services or other functioning in the libraries. Collections are the basis of a library, they are the basis of the greatness of the Harvard Library but collections are not the only thing that make great libraries. Mark Twain knew that you couldn't judge a library solely on the basis of the collection. Mark Twain, as you may know, didn't like Jane Austin and he once commented that any library that didn't have a book by Jane Austin was a good library, even if it had no other book.
You can't necessarily judge the Harvard Library by its collections and we can't take full credit for them since much of what is the collection is a great historical collection long before our time. Nevertheless, Harvard is doing a better job of keeping up the collection than most other libraries. The ARL libraries on average over the last ten years now are collecting about 1/5 to 1/3 fewer items each year depending upon which measurement you use. Harvard has been fortunate in maintaining a steady amount of acquisitions roughly speaking. That's good, and we should be proud of that and should be grateful to the University administration and faculty administration for keeping that up. Nevertheless, that's a smaller proportion of that which is published each year, and the fact that other libraries are collecting less and less is no source of glee for us because we depend more and more on other libraries. So, keeping up with our scholarly obligations is going to be an if each year difficult and as each year going to become more difficult. Especially when we then look forward to the other kinds of information we have to deal with beyond the usual collection of paper material. These will be challenging times for the University Library and exciting times
Let me say a few things about the various items that are on the agenda of the University Library Council of importance to the libraries. One of the major things on our agenda is professional development. The report of the task force chaired by Charles Willard about professional development has been circulated to you. This will be a major item of priority for the University Library Council to deal with over the next period--over the summer and into the fall. We hope to move on those items very effectively.
The Willard report derives from, follows up on the Ad Hoc committee that was chaired by Ken Carpenter. In some sense, these reports themselves are manifestation of professionalism. The amount of independence and effort that Ken and Charles brought to these activities, the amount of independence, effort and commitment that many, many other members of the library community, who were on the original ad hoc committee, on the Willard task force and who consulted with these groups and talked to them, really are manifestations of that independence, professionalism, special skills, special concern for the profession that the librarians have.
The report has many parts, as you will see. It talks about professional development opportunities, of the tools in training needed to maintain professional skills and enhance them. It talks about extended time for further professional development, it talks about mentoring, it talks about programs of recognition. These, as I say, will be the items that the University Library Council will be taking on. They are very important items.
We will probably take on the toughest ones first. That is, professional recognition is very important. That people are recognized, that we have awards and things of that sort but somehow or other that isn't as important as the substantive aspects of professional development. Opportunities to develop skills, opportunities to have a chance to grow in one's professional capacity. These are the ones that we will look at very, very carefully. As you know, these are matters that are in part issues for the University as a whole, they're issues for the individual faculties, and everything at Harvard is complex because of that combination of different structures. We hope to look at this in terms of where the appropriate response should be and take seriously the nature of the Harvard structure, because to merely give pious generalizations about how this should be done or what should be done without taking into account the variety of faculties is to give merely pious nods to something that's important. We want really to develop programs that work.
We will be spending a lot of time and I do hope that all of you that have seen the report and have comments about it will send them to my office and we will share them with everyone. There's an email address for so doing on the report. I'll be happy to hear from you.
We also, in terms of the professional positions of librarians, are setting up a steering committee and advisory committee to deal with the position of analysis activities. These follow up the work done by Susan Lee and the committee that worked on the PIQ. We now are setting up a position analysis program, as it were. We have posted on the web the grids of the way in which various jobs are placed within various categories of the University's hierarchy of positions. This was part of our program to make these positions and their location transparent. We want to make sure that the special characteristics of librarian jobs receive appropriate locations within the structure of occupations within the University.
I've been gratified by several things. One is the amount of participation, again, by librarians in this process, and secondly by the co-operation by the Human Resources people who have been quite flexible and open in dealing with the special characteristics of libraries. So again, this is going to be an ongoing process where we will have an advisory committee to advise us on how these grids are working. Again, these are things about which we should hear from librarians if they have questions, concerns or anything of that sort.
Another big issue facing us is, as you all know, HOLLIS II. This also has been a long process, we had hoped that we would have announced where we are going with HOLLIS II already. Its been a longer and more complex process than we anticipated. In part because we want for the HOLLIS system, the replacement of the current HOLLIS system the perfect integrated library system and the perfect integrated system does not exist, has not yet been developed. We had hoped that the various venders would have been further along in their development than they have been. Its been, I think, an extremely thorough process. Many of you may have been involved in task forces of various aspects of HOLLIS II.
Two things can be said about when we make a decision as to where to go on HOLLIS II, we will be late by a number of years, we should have done this a number of years ago, and we will be early by a number of years. We should do it about two or three years from now. That's the nature of technology, it changes so rapidly that no matter when you do it, you'll be doing it too late and too early. We want to get a system, though, that will last, that is flexible enough to be changed as we move along. We need to make some choices and we hope in the near future that we, we being the University Library Council, will come out with a paper and a recommendation. A recommendation that will then go to, as always at Harvard God save us, an infinite number of people, certainly the President and Provost, but to the deans. We will share it with the library community, we will share it with faculty groups, but we hope that we have, and we are optimistic that we will be able to make a decision that will be something we can live with that will improve substantially the quality of the HOLLIS system and that will keep us moving into the 21st century.
Its been a delicate business because, and one of the reasons I am not throwing names and things of this sort is because we are in the process of negotiating and talking to various firms and we're not in the position to make this kind of a public statement.
Lastly, let me just mention the library digital initiative which also will be taking off this summer and then moving much more rapidly next year. We've had several public sessions on this and so I won't repeat what was said there and tell you about it. Let me say that one of the most gratifying aspects of the initiative has been the extent to which we have been able to co-operate across all the faculties with support of the Deans, with support of the librarians, within the individual faculties. I think it was a good recognition of an area in which co-operation and coordination across the University benefited everybody. So I have been really delighted by the support from librarians, by support from the central administration, by support from the administrations of the individual faculties. We will have a set of committees as always to watch over this process, to organize the priorities as we try to develop the capacity to deal with digital information. There will be a lot of involvement by all the member of the library community As I've said at all the meetings we've had on this, it is very deliberately called the Library Digital Initiative and not the Digital Library at Harvard because we do not think of this as a separate library for digital information. We think of this as a new kind of information integrated into the overall structure of the Harvard library.
Let me just go back to my opener. Harvard is the top university library in the world where the great libraries of the world but , as Satchel Page said, 'we shouldn't look back, they may be gaining on us " and therefore we're looking forward and have a great number of challenges in front of us and as the Chinese curse goes, "may you live in interesting times", we will live in interesting and very challenging times. Be happy to take questions on any of these issues.
Thank you, and you'll be hearing much more from us as time goes on.
H.F.: Michael, can I call on you now to discuss the further directions for the Assembly?
Michael Leach: Why don't take you take a second just to relax if you want to. You've been sitting nicely for over an hour and we appreciate that. We're in the last part of the agenda right now. This section here is for feedback. We, as the Executive Committee, want to know now that we've spent the last two years laying down a new foundation, building upon our previous successes and looking towards the future, giving us the chance and the opportunity to work ourselves some important issues that you the membership are interested in. When you look at these particular things that the Assembly should be doing, which is basically on the handout that we gave you, the bottom of the first and the back of the second page. These aren't prioritized, in other words don't look at number one as the first thing that we're interested in , then number two, etc. We could obviously do several things in tandem. The purpose here is for us, The Executive Committee, to feel what the membership really thinks if the most important or most important issue that we should be following. Also we want your feed back on things that might not be on this list. So as we go through these and we ask you if you're interested in this--we'll ask you at the end of each one, raise you hands if you think this is appropriate. You can say something else at the very end if you think there is another issue that is very important to you.
This first one, continue development, developing awareness programs on the staff retirement plan and report on current efforts to examine the plan. As most of you are aware, three retirement forums introduced by Candice Corby and presented by Tom Schmidt were held in he first three weeks of April in 1996. Two sessions were held in Cambridge and one was at Countway and about 125 people attended. Susan Kemple attended all three of these sessions and then summarized the librarians' concerns at a meeting on the 10th of May in 1996 of the University Benefits Committee subcommittee on retirement which was chaired by the former Provost. Suzanne continues to work on the subcommittee and she has kindly agreed to summarize the presentation she gave at the UBC meeting back then.
Suzanne Kemple: Actually I don't think I'm going to summarize that presentation because it would take too long, but I'm just going to summarize what librarians' concerns were as expressed in these forums back in 1996. If you have any new or different ones please let me know through email, I'd be happy to hear them.
Generally, the existence of two plans --two retirement plans--for the faculty plan and staff plan invites comparison and librarians usually see these comparisons as unfavorable to them. First of all, Harvard is unique among its peer institutions in having two plans for faculty and staff. Every other institution has only one plan for all staff. The faculty at Harvard in their plan are able to direct all of their moneys that Harvard contributes for them to the investments as they choose them. Staff are allowed to direct only 3 1/2% of the moneys--that's not right--if 3 1/2 % of salary is given to the staff plan then Harvard allows you to direct that investment on that 3 1/2%. Obviously there's another contribution that goes towards your retirement plan but that plan is directed by Harvard and pays the T bill rate. Contribution rates are actually also different for faculty and for staff. For faculty over 40, the Harvard investment rate is lower for the most part than it is for staff over the age of 40.
Finally, there are several issues for recruitment. Librarians often see the staff plan as something of a disincentive to recruitment. For one thing, many newly hired librarians come here with a TIAA-CREF plan intact and Harvard, of course, does not have that kind of defined contribution plan. So entering librarians tend to see that as deficient. The other problem in terms of recruitment is that the vesting period for staff, the staff plan, is five years. The vesting plan for the faculty plan is three years, but actually a lot of people see even a three year vesting period as somewhat of a disincentive to recruitment.
Finally, I think the reason is, the symbolic reason, the fact is that back before 1973, librarians were part of several exempt groups who were considered to be , who were back then, part of the faculty plan. Some of our colleagues of course, were grandfathered luckily into that plan and still are part of the faculty plan. Librarians support the fact that Harvard is the top academic library and librarians very much share part of the academic mission to the institution. So librarians see the separation of these two plans as unfavorable to them.
While I'm up here, I think you probably know what I just said, but what I probably should do is tell you a few seconds about what has been happening in terms of addressing this issue of the separate plans. The subcommittee on retirement of the University Benefits Committee has been meeting for several years. The first two years that I served on this group, the issue that was discussed was the faculty plan. This past year we've started to address the issue of the staff retirement plan. We've had several meetings and the plan is currently being researched and studied. We're through meeting this year, a report will be going to the University Benefits Committee and this is merely a status report because no recommendations will be made. We will continue to be discussing the staff retirement plan next year but this year in order to see what the status report is, you should be just keeping a watchful eye on the Gazette and any Human Resources publications that you receive because probably the committee report will be released by fall, late summer and you'll be able to see more of what is being said.
ML: Thank you, Suzanne. Obviously the Assembly has a minor role in terms of staff development, but one of the things we could do under our new Benefits Committee, is make sure that the information is there. When new plans come out or new reports come out these are the type of things we could put on HUL Info just to remind you that this has been posted. It could be part of the Librarians' Handbook, part of the Human Resources Links in the index. These are things that people are interested in. Of course, to make sure that we continue doing this kind of work, just a quick show of hands as to if you want us to continue working in this area, at least keeping the awareness going, making sure the reports get out and that sort of thing. That's good. Any general comments, further things you'd like to see us do? Satisfied?
ML: Any other comments? Questions?
The second thing on the back of your page, A number of things that we've heard over the past year is that there is a lot of interest in fostering increased library/faculty dialog. We actually began some of that today, Professor Oldham talking to you for the Assembly. Other ideas in the future would be informal luncheons, which of course was mentioned as well, with individual faculty members, possibilities might be having faculty attending the monthly communications and orientations luncheons. These are just things that we're throwing out. Also possibly some reports we could garner, on the intersections between librarians and faculty research and instruction. Things highlighting some of the work that has gone on in the University beyond what we see in the Annual Reports that are put out.
How many people are interested in the Assembly continuing this type of work? Looking into these types of issues or specific ones? Are there any specific ideas that people want us to look at?--other than what we've listed here? How many of you just out of curiosity, enjoyed having a faculty member address the Assembly here today? That was something new and we weren't sure it would work, but I think it did today.
Any other comments?
[large part unheard/muffled]
ML: Thank you, any other comments? Number 3: Explore how shared decision making among libraries is carried out in the various library settings. This exploration could examine various models of shared library decision processes and its successes as implemented. The idea here would be maybe to look at an individual faculty library or individual libraries themselves and to see how this particular model is being implemented--if at all. Then having forums or other types of information and disseminating it and letting people know. In that way, what works well in one part of the University might be cross fertilized and work well in another part of the University.
How many people would be interested in the Assembly pursuing this particular issue in the upcoming year or so?
Comments, questions, further suggestions in this area that people might want to add to?
ML: We could get initiatives, even pilot projects and seeing the success of them for the challenges that might be addressed. Any other comments or suggestions?
Number 4: Identify avenues whereby librarians can further participate in the academic and demonstrative aspects of the University. Such work would examine areas such as teaching, training, committee work and research, among others. The idea here might be to find out people are already working in various aspects for the University, for instance, teaching--how did they actually get involved with working with professors? Maybe coming in and doing some work on a class level, maybe working with students on a section level, and they identifying that, making sure it gets disseminated so people can then look at other avenues maybe in their own library or their own particular faculty.
The other area of course may be committee work. How do people get appointed to various University committees? How do they actually get further involved? How can we, as a full Assembly, get further involved in the University?
How many people in general are interested in this particular area that the Assembly should be pursuing?
Any comments or specific suggestions that you'd like to seen addressed?
ML: So we can examine maybe the history of that, why it came about, find out some of the reasons and some of the impediments of changing it. Any other comments, suggestions?
Last one. Develop further programs and mechanisms for support of professional development. Obviously we have a nice report from the ULC. Such programs and mechanisms could include the ongoing collection, organization and dissemination of continuing education information. For instance, having it central, maybe information collected on a web server, or may be in a library setting for programs on masters or doctoral programs in library science. Basically, many of us who work in departmental libraries collect this sort of stuff for our own departments.
For instance in Physics, I collect just about everything there is about doctoral programs and masters programs in Physics. We don't really have a central depository for this sort of information for librarians. This might be one of the possibilities we could be looking at.
Or looking at other programs at specific institute, the ARL institute or ALA institute. Finding out what people need and then maybe asking those particular institutes to come to the University. Now some of this has been done before. The middle managers institute for example, has been done recently here at the University. If that particular program is successful, maybe we'll be looking at bringing more of those in. Such development could also include locating further money for research and fellowships beyond, for instance, the Bryant Fellowship.
How many people are interested in the Assembly pursuing these particular issues? Are there any specific suggestions or promises any of you would like to make? Terry?
[another unheard comment]
ML: We all know how much time we have free to do all sorts of extra things these days. However, in terms of publicity for those types of things, having people who might have attended prior institutes speaking at one of the monthly luncheons that we hold and discussing what you get out of that particular institute, publicizing them that was as well. Of course there's the initiative working on professional development right now possibly having a little more time, or even timing them. Its very difficult in the University, my own experience just trying to get the Assembly meetings together on a date that everyone seems happy with is very difficult. Other comments or suggestions?
Are there any issues you'd like to see us address that aren't here? I know, its the end of the afternoon--Monday, its been raining for 10 days in a row. Obviously, you don't have to speak up right here. You can email, phone, even write a letter--some of us do write letters and send information to any member of the Executive Committee with suggestions, further comments, questions you might have. We try to be more and more open and accessible. If you don't remember who we are, we're on the web hul.harvard.edu/assembly You can find out all our names and phone numbers and email addresses there.
I think if there's no further comments or questions that will be it for this, and it officially closes.
HF: Thank you very much. I think we should all express to you, as chair of the Executive Committee for your efforts on behalf of the Assembly, thank you very much.
Any other new business to come before the Assembly? If not, the meeting is adjourned.