Library Committee- Meeting Summary, 11-4-08

After a brief discussion of the September meeting’s minutes and general minuting procedure, Robert Darnton, chair of the committee and head of Harvard University Library, talked for a bit about the current situation with Google. A class action suit was filed against Google for the Google Book Search project, and a settlement was proposed at the end of October. Professor Darnton wrote a letter to library employees detailing Harvard’s objections to the settlement, which he said was misrepresented in The Crimson. Rather than rejecting the settlement, as The Crimson reported, Harvard simply has not endorsed the settlement at present. Stanford, University of Michigan, and University of California schools have endorsed the settlement. Harvard continues to allow Google to copy Harvard library books that are out of copyright.
The committee also discussed Electronic Document Delivery (EDD), also known as “Scan and Deliver.” One aim of this program is to decrease recalls of items from the Harvard Depository. It will allow those with Harvard IDs and PINs to order scanned excerpts from books at any library (including HD), with relatively short turnaround. Patrons will request the excerpts in the HOLLIS catalog and download them from a secure, PIN-accessible site (so copyright will not be an issue). The possibility of using EDD for entire classes was brought up, but that’s not part of the plan right now, as providing the excerpts to multiple users at the same time would require paying royalties. The program will be available in the spring, after some delays.
The initial discussion about the state of the College’s science libraries was next. Strictly speaking, Cabot and Tozzer libraries are the only College science libraries, but within the University Library, there are many, and they have a somewhat convoluted organizational structure. Especially with the new emphasis on interdisciplinary work within the sciences, this structure may no longer be optimal. The committee discussed general improvements to the science libraries, including more involvement of librarians in instruction. The committee discussed the importance of faculty and student input, but this probably does not mean a student survey (at least not yet), because there is a perception that undergraduates are experiencing a “survey fatigue” of sorts. Brittney asked whether HCL is considering renovating Cabot Library study space, given the library’s well-worn appearance. Nancy Cline, the Librarian of Harvard College, said that HCL was aware of requests to renovate the space, but HCL faces the challenge that Cabot is housed in an FAS, not HCL, building and does not have endowed funds of its own (unlike parts of Lamont and Widener) for its upkeep.
The final agenda item was the HCL budget, which the committee had previously discussed in September. Nancy Cline, the Librarian of Harvard College, outlined further information about the budget, specifically expenditures on monographs and serials, both print and electronic. The Library’s year-to-year funding is quite unpredictable, due to bequests and market fluctuations affecting the endowment. With the ongoing trend towards electronic media, most journals are now charging a larger, base fee for their electronic version, and a nominal or nonexistent fee for the print one, a flip of what they did in the past. This means Harvard Libraries are able to combine their electronic subscriptions while retaining their own print subscriptions, saving money. They are working to standardize serial subscription.

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