Graduate and Professional School Libraries
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Monroe C. Gutman Library
Report of John W. Collins III, Librarian
The mission of the Monroe C. Gutman Library is to support the teaching and research of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) by providing access to information in the field of education; teaching the use of information resources; and supporting the collections, equipment, and staff in a manner ensuring that the library will remain a leader among education libraries.
Challenges and Responses
A major challenge for the Circulation Department in 2009–2010 was maintaining our hours of operation and a high level of service with fewer staff. The response was to examine and reconfigure job descriptions, adjust schedules, and cross-train student assistants to support multiple departments. These efforts resulted in the ability to maintain the library's hours while continuing to provide the level of service our patrons expect.
A key challenge for Technical Services was to provide the same level of service to the HGSE community with a staff reduced by two FTEs. Our response was to look at process improvement as a means of achieving efficiencies. The Access Services Team, working closely with the Technical Services staff, examined workflows, policies, and procedures to see where efficiencies could be gained. As a result, the process of ordering, receiving, and processing monographs and serials was streamlined, job responsibilities were realigned, and outdated tasks were eliminated. With these changes, the department continues to provide a high level of service with a reduced staffing level.
The key challenge for Collection Development was the significant decrease in the materials budget and the efforts to soften its impact on the quality and scope of this year's acquisitions. Through a detailed analysis of the journals collection, over 250 titles were converted to online only. Selected duplicated titles were canceled in collaboration with other libraries. Select GALE reference titles were also converted or canceled. These conversion efforts helped to reduce the materials cost while still allowing for the addition of several new journal titles and archives to the collection. The conversion also allowed for a reduction in the binding budget. Additionally, with respect to monographs, more titles were acquired with paper binding.
Research and Instruction Services
Increased student enrollment and reductions in staff have provided us with an opportunity to develop new models in the delivery of research and instructional services. For example, online tutorials have become important in the delivery of instruction. We were not able to offer face-to-face workshops this fall, so the tutorials served as an important source of information for students off-site and for staff at the reference desk and in writing consultations.
With reduced staffing and a very high demand for both research and dissertation consultations, we had to be creative to meet student needs. During the heaviest periods we reduced our usual hour-long research consultations to half-hour sessions, adding to the number of students we could see in a day. For students who wanted to consult regarding citation formatting, we instituted a form of triage. We referred students looking for a general overview of APA or RefWorks to online tutorials or handouts to orient themselves, and we asked them to return if they had questions.
Collection and Service Highlights
Gutman Library joined other University libraries in implementing Scan & Deliver, a significant new service that enables the Harvard community to order book chapters or journal articles from Harvard libraries to be scanned and delivered to patrons as PDFs. This service saves patrons, especially those doing cross-disciplinary research, a tremendous amount of time—time previously spent searching for, photocopying, or borrowing materials from the various Harvard libraries.
We transitioned most of our journal titles from print to electronic access, where possible. This was a complicated process that involved input from Collection Development, Cataloging, and Access Services, as well as our primary vendors, EBSCO and Swets. Print titles were canceled and subscriptions changed to online only. HOLLIS was updated to reflect these changes. The result was a significant savings without loss of content. Binding process improvement was next. As a follow-up to the transition to e-journals, binding workflow was examined and streamlined. HOLLIS records were updated, checked for accuracy, and updated as needed. Additionally, we implemented Shelf Ready Service from YBP. This service greatly reduced the amount of staff time needed for end-processing, freeing staff for other work.
Gutman Library acquired the Ball State Textbook Collection this year. With the closing of a building at Indiana's Ball State University, Gutman Library was able to acquire almost 7,600 elementary and secondary education textbooks in two sets. The first set of 6,000 covered all subjects and included works from the 1960s to the 1980s. The second set of 1,600 included works from the late 1800s to the 1940s and covered selected subjects. This acquisition significantly expanded the historic textbook collection in both depth and breadth.
With the economic situation affecting all of the libraries, collaboration on collection development has increased significantly. With many libraries shifting their journal titles to online only, coordinated de-selection of print in favor of the single online subscription has allowed funds to be freed up to acquire several new titles as well as additional archives. Coordinated de-selection of print reference works has also allowed titles previously only available in print to become available online. Although there have been gains, there has also been added pressure to collaborate to sustain large journal packages, notably Springer. Gutman Library experienced an increase in its cost share to help ensure the availability of the Springer package.
Research and Instruction Services
The Research and Instruction Services Department is fully engaged with the HGSE community and the broader HUL community, ranging from classroom presentations to participation in orientation and graduation events to serving on relevant HGSE/HUL projects and/or committees. This involvement has included RefWorks HUL-wide trainings, Usable Knowledge, Writing Like an Educator online workshop, S-508 Methods of Research in the History of Education, and other School- and University-wide initiatives.
2009–2010 was a watershed year in many respects. Gutman Library saw a 20% reduction in staff and an equally significant reduction in the operating budget. The "opportunities" presented to us under those circumstances were challenging. The staff, however, engaged in a variety of process improvement exercises that resulted in some remarkable accomplishments. Streamlined workflow patterns, new job descriptions and position realignments, the elimination of most of our paper copies of journals, the purchasing of shelf-ready books, development of new online tutorials supporting research and instruction, all combined to enable us to continue to offer high levels of service to our varied constituencies.
The process of envisioning the library of the future for HGSE and Harvard continues. Gutman staff is engaged in a variety of efforts, not the least of which is working with the various Provost's Library Implementation Working Groups. Further efforts are under way in seeking new collaborations, as well as examining all of the space and services currently located within Gutman Library. 2010–2011 promises to be an equally challenging and exciting year.