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Library Student Resource Group

November 24, 2008

Present: Joy Brennan, Monica Mercado, Anthony Todd, Han Xiao
Judith Nadler (chair), John Kimbrough, Rachel Rosenberg, Jim Vaughan

A welcome to new members Joy and Anthony.

Monica spoke of a class she is co-teaching on women and the University of Chicago. The students' final projects will be exhibited as a poster session at the Center for Gender Studies in Spring Quarter, and the class will feed into a spring exhibition in the Special Collections in March.

Library Response to University Budget Initiative

Due to the state of the economy, the Provost has asked the Library and other University units to develop plans for reducing costs. We have developed options for 3%, 6%, and 9% cost reductions. These plans include both short-term savings (through end of this fiscal year) and long-term efficiencies.

The Library approached reductions programmatically: that is, instead of making across-the-board cuts in staff or materials, we have measured cuts in terms of their impact on users.

We divided possible reductions into 3 areas:

Difficult: those that would have little or no impact on users in the short-term. Examples include:

Serious: those that impact other people/units on campus

Crippling: those that would seriously impair the Library's core mission

Given that the Library has to reduce the budget, what reductions does the LSRG consider least painful?

Perhaps the Library should reduce hours during interims? Several LSRG members said that many graduate students look forward to interims, because it's prime research time. If the Library must cut service, cut hours instead of days. This being said, undergrads can find it hard to get to the Library during normal business hours. Monica noted that reducing building hours would significantly impact undergrads. For example, recall the furor over the closing of the all-night study space.

Anthony mentioned that reducing procurement of materials will impact relatively few patrons compared to service hours cuts. If only a very few researchers use a specialized database, perhaps it's better to cut that resource rather than make cuts that impact everyone.

Joy noted that cuts affecting research - whether in specialized databases or increased shelving time - are things that should be avoided. Generally as long as things are available, I'm willing to stand in a slightly longer line to check them out.

Han said that, speaking only for himself, he wouldn't mind going to Crerar for materials rather than Eckhart.

Judi asked LSRG members to speak with their peers and to give us feedback on other Library collections and services students would consider untouchable.

Harper Memorial Library College Learning Center

When Regenstein opened in the 1970s, Harper was repurposed as a space for the "general reader." However, it lacks air conditioning, adequate power outlets, and lighting to be an ideal study space. Accordingly, plans are underway to close the Library and renovate the space into a new College Learning Center. (Joy noted that while Harper is a beautiful space, it currently is a little puzzling, because (apart from study space) it's hard to figure out the audience of the collection.)

Planners from Studio Gang, the architectural firm redesigning Harper, met with students last week. Monica attended this meeting, and the Maroon reported on it.  Jim handed out a reproduction of an article from LIBRA, a Library newsletter distributed to faculty and friends of the Library, that talks about the Library's role in the Harper renovation.

Harper will close as a functioning library at the end of Autumn quarter. Renovations to the main reading room will begin in Winter 2009. The Harper collection will move to the A-Level of the Reg during winter interim, and many graduate students (said Monica) are excited about the prospect of Harper books more easily available. The North/Stuart reading room, which houses the tutors and writing interns, will remain open until June 2009. 

Anthony inquired about Harper Storage. Jim replied that the Harper Storage books will eventually be moved into the new Mansueto Library.


Do LSRG members use Facebook regularly? Some do, some not.  No one has seen the new Library ads marketing electronic resources.

How does the Library best communicate with you? Anthony and Monica regularly read the "What's New" section on the Library homepage. Everyone thought targeted emails on departmental listservs was a good idea -- although there seemed a preference for less frequent (quarterly) emails. Also, we should archive the emails online on the Library website -- students doing interdisciplinary work may be interested in Library new pitched to other departments.

We could also provides RSS feeds for new acquisitions (discipline-specific). Would LSRG members take advantage of this? Possibly, especially for new electronic resources. A feed of new print acquisitions might get overwhelming.

Other Topics

Judi closed the meeting by asking LSRG members to send agenda topics of interest to us for future meetings. See you in Winter quarter!