Strengths and Weaknesses
The mission of the James White Library is to support the mission of Andrews University by providing bibliographic, physical and intellectual access to recorded knowledge and information. Library service is a part of the university goal of developing the whole being of students and faculty. The library has a primary responsibility to support instructional, service and research programs of Andrews University through the acquisition, organization, and maintenance of appropriate information resources, including access to appropriate electronic resources. The library also accepts a broad responsibility for the support and upgrading of the libraries of Adventist educational institutions around the world.
Why a New Strategic Plan?
In June 1988 James White Library produced its first strategic plan in a document of 70 pages, plus appendices. Incorporating a self-study, the document reviewed the history and growth of the library, identified areas of weakness and need, and outlined an ambitious series of objectives. Clearly its most ambitious goal looked to the establishment of a fully integrated library system, with an On-line Public Access Catalog, within five years. The fact that this goal was achieved with installation of the Innopac system in 1993 is a tribute to the planning and commitment of university administration and library staff.
Why should a plan of six years ago need replacement? There are several reasons for making a fresh approach at this time.
A Time of Transition
The past six years have seen major changes to the American library scene. Academic libraries in the mid-1990's are in a period of transition. The winds of change have increased in velocity. Paradigms are shifting. The old ways of cataloging, finding information, developing collections will not do anymore. A revolution in information storage and access is creating at once chaos and convenience, uncertainty and opportunity.
In these circumstances planning itself is a risky business. Predictions are rife and wild. We are surrounded by moving targets. Yet plan we must, after analyzing as best we can the indicators of future library development.
New Institutional Strategic Plan
There is another reason for preparing a new program for development. In July 1991, three years after the first plan was produced, Andrews University published its own five-year strategic plan: A Vision for Andrews University: Toward the 21st Century. This document elaborates seven vision statements, indicating goals for the institution as a whole. If James White Library is to function as an integral part of the academic organism, then its plan must relate closely to the goals of the university. With this in mind, the James White Library Strategic Planning Committee prepared in November 1993 a four-page document entitled New Directions for James White Library: a Preliminary Response to the Seven Vision Statements of the Andrews University Strategic Plan 1991-1996. (Appendix A). That paper has guided the committee in developing this strategic plan.
Library Space Needs
A third reason for developing this new plan relates to the library's need for a building addition in the relatively near future. It is essentialt that the library be on the university's master plan schedule for a major addition within five years. A solid strategic plan with clear directions for development is a necessary first step to the preparation of a building program. A later chapter of this document outlines some specific space needs arising from the elements of this strategic plan.
New Library Leadership and Reorgnization
Finally, James White Library had a change of leadership in September 1993. For a variety of reasons, the new director felt that a new beginning was needed. In October 1993 an external commission of three librarians was appointed to conduct a three-day site visit and prepare a report on the library's functional organization. The commission's visit took place in March 1994 and its report, received in April, included eleven recommendations. (Appendix B) Based on that report, the director announced a reorganization plan involving replacement of eleven departments with five, which took effect on July 1, 1994.
The JWL Strategic Planning Committee commenced its work in October 1993, and has engaged in the following studies and discussions:
Review of the James White Library 1988 Strategic Plan, with special attention to how we have achieved or failed to achieve the specific goals of that plan. (Appendix C)
Study of recent and current trends affecting academic libraries, including visits to other academic libraries in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Iowa.
Review of the JWL Commission's report dated April 1994.
Much of the excellent work done for the 1988 plan, including the self-study and overview of the library's history, does not need to be repeated. To that extent this new plan builds on the previous one.
Academic Libraries Face the 21st Century
Academic libraries in the middle 1990's find themselves in a period of major transition and uncertainty. A convergence of three major elements has occurred to produce some new dynamics in the world of information science:
Tough financial times and competition affecting institutions of higher education are forcing restructuring and rethinking. Libraries are not exempt from the necessity to re-examine and re-engineer.
A new emphasis on distance education, fueled by new interactive information technologies, is forcing libraries to embrace new opportunities and develop a global mentality.
Studies and predictions abound. Among several significant documents which discuss the contemporary dilemmas facing higher education and libraries is a Mellon Foundation study published in 19931, a Policy Perspectives 1994 report by the Pew Higher Education Roundtable2, and a May 1994 Executive Strategies Report by the Higher Education Information Resources Alliance3. Each one analyzes the effects of the information technology revolution in addition to other influences, and looks for answers. Nowhere, however, is there any sense or prediction that libraries will be less significant in future programs of education than they are now. Indeed the opposite is true. James Billington, Librarian of Congress, wrote in March 1994: "If we didn't already have libraries, they would now have to be invented. They are the keys to American success in fully exploiting the information superhighways of the future."4
For academic libraries trying to navigate a steady course in a volatile sea, some trends are nevertheless discernible.
1. A change from ownership of resources to access.
Richard DeGennaro, long a front runner in library futures, published this statement in 1992:
Research libraries in the next decade or two are going to be evolving very rapidly toward this new paradigm where it's not just what you own in any particular library, but it's what your library is able to provide access to.5
The new paradigm has big implications for libraries planning their futures. It is a fundamental change from the concept that a library's strength lies in its physically owned resources of books and journals, to the concept that its strength lies far more in the degree of access it is able to provide its patrons to the global information data-bank. One author describes an exciting new scenario:
We now have within our reach the technological means to construct learning environments that have the information density of the Library of Congress, the pedagogical skill of Socrates, and the excitement and holding power of a video game.6
In practical terms, the new "ownership versus access" paradigm means replacing 'collection development' with 'resources management', re-allocating substantial budget resources from acquisitions to access, replacing some expensive periodical subscriptions with full-text electronic access, and ultimately re-engineering the library's processes to take care of new demands and patron services.
The concept of the library as a "gateway" to information resources does mandate a shift in the library's philosophy of service. Traditionally the library was concerned with making information resources available to the patron who came to the building. The library approaching the 21st century must concern itself with delivering information at whatever location the patron needs it. It is a marked change of emphasis from document availability to information delivery.
2. Print materials will continue to be important.
In spite of the current pre-occupation with electronic devices and resources, print will remain an important medium well into the 21st century. World statistics from the early 1990's show that production of printed materials continues to rise, although the rate of increase has slowed substantially since the 1960's and 1970's. In a 1994 article in praise of the information superhighway concept, the Librarian of Congress, James Billington, wrote:
We also see a long life ahead for the book; books are user-friendly and portable. We believe that Americans will be reading Shakespeare and Huckleberry Finn on the printed page many decades hence, and reading printed newspapers and magazines as well.7
The challenge for libraries lies in managing the traditional print formats while developing new processes and methods for handling electronic resources.
3. Cooperation and networking with other libraries.
Decades of talk about library cooperation and sharing are becoming reality as national, state, regional and even international networks provide the essential links to the information superhighway envisaged by the American government. Pressure to collaborate and share access to information comes from two directions. On one side academic libraries are faced with scarce financial resources; on the other, they are encountering increasing competition from commercial organizations. As the Council on Library Resources states in its 1994 annual report: "Information has become an international commodity, and libraries are no longer the only organizations delivering information services." 8
Until recent years, libraries have conducted comprehensive acquisitions programs which have given rise to the "20/80 rule"--that 20% of their collections satisfy 80% of the need, while the substantial 80% is required to support just 20% of need. The promise of resource sharing, with a change of philosophy from "just in case" to "just in time", means that libraries can concentrate on developing their core collections (the 20%) while providing timely access to the remaining 80% through electronic and cooperative means.9
4. Development of the electronic library.
Although one can scarcely visualize a time when all existing print resources will be converted to digitized format, one can foresee the rapid development of substantial data-banks containing the full-text of reports and major journals in the sciences and technologies. The electronic or 'virtual library' concept becomes possible with the concurrent advances in high-speed computing, high-capacity storage, and high-capacity telecommunications.
Accompanying these technological advances is a new generation of library users--patrons of the electronic age with high expectations of what the library can provide for them, and with a demand for the latest and best in technological efficiency.
The electronic library carries deep implications for the design of buildings:
The promise of a digital world suggests to some that new buildings for the storage of materials may no longer be needed. Others, however, recognize that outdated facilities will need to be redesigned for electronic information delivery. Capital improvement planning is particularly challenging when old and new information formats meet in library facilities.10
5. Increased emphasis on distance education.
The impact of interactive telecommunications is just beginning to be felt:
What telemarketing and phone banks did for catalog sales, what QVC did for home shopping, what ATM's did for banking, the information highway is about to do for distance learning and higher education.11
Libraries will have an integral role in providing information services for distance learning. One can expect distance education services to be a topic of increasing discussion and emphasis among librarians during the next decade. Libraries have concentrated on providing rapid bibliographic access. They now need to develop rapid document delivery. 12
6. Restructuring of academic libraries.
Tough financial times facing higher education institutions will force libraries to restructure, to operate more efficiently, to provide better services with less staff. What has been said of the institutions as a whole is also applicable to their libraries:
What becomes increasingly clear ... is that eliminating costs means reducing personnel and rethinking the scope as well as the scale of instructional and research programs. Most institutions also come to understand that permanently reducing costs means recasting basic functions and purposes. The lesson still to be learned is that such restructuring is only possible once the decision has been made to operate with smaller, more flexible staffs and simpler, less convoluted processes. 13
Libraries are having to be innovative in handling challenges of this kind. Self-service check-out of library materials, more effective bibliographic instruction, contracting out of acquisitions and cataloging to specialized agencies, re-examination of time-hallowed methods and procedures--these are some of the ways in which libraries are tackling the difficult issues of restructuring and improving their technical efficiency.
7. Increased support of information technology in libraries.
If libraries are to fulfill their vital role in the future of higher education, they must receive strong and substantial support for the development of information technology and resources which can be integrated into campus-wide learning systems.
One of the most exciting trends in academic libraries is the increasing use of multi-media resources, including the emerging role of "knowledge creation" in which print, data, audio, and visual resources are brought together into software which supports teaching, independent learning and research.14 The "Information Arcade" developed at the University of Iowa library is a trend-setter in this respect.15 It has the potential to transform the way we teach and learn.
A recent report to university administrators sounds a warning:
The costs of not equipping our campuses to compete in a future where students can learn and communicate in a virtual classroom linked to international networks of digitized information will be substantial. Faculty and staff will lack the tools and expertise to develop new learning modalities and be unable to help students learn to select, synthesize, and give meaning to the vast array of informational choices which confront them. Many institutions will be lost in the growing competition from for-profit learning corporations which are already beginning to challenge higher education's monopoly on the provision and credentials of learning.16
Without question, libraries are in the midst of an uncomfortable transition from a print-dominated society to one which is becoming increasingly dependent upon electronic media. Libraries will survive the transition provided that they keep their mission in clear focus. Paul Evan Peters' advice is worth heeding:
For every new technology there are threats and opportunities, and sometimes the difference between the two is not easily discerned. But the more we think about that difference, and the more often we remind ourselves that technology is a tool and not a goal, the better chance we have of achieving our goals and finding the right place for our facilities, functions, and artifacts.17
1 University Libraries and Scholarly Communication: A Study Prepared for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, by Anthony M. Cummings et al. Washington: Association of Research Libraries, 1992.
2 To Dance With Change. The Pew Higher Education Roundtable. Policy Perspectives, 5 (3), 1994.
3 What Presidents Need to Know about the Payoff on the Information Technology Investment. Higher Education Information Resources Alliance of ARL, CAUSE, and EDUCOM. Strategies report #4, May 1994.
4 Billington, James H. Building the 'Information Superhighway.' Library of Congress Information Bulletin, March 7, 1994, p.86.
5 DeGennaro, Richard, as quoted by Walters, L.S. Costs Pinch University Libraries. The Christian Science Monitor, May 4, 1992, p.12-13.
6 Peters, Paul Evan. Is the Library a "Place" in the Age of Networks? EDUCOM Review, 29 (1), Jan/Feb 1994, p.62-63.
7 Billington, James H. ibid. p.87
8 Council on Library Resources, Inc. Thirty-eighth Annual Report, 1994. p.15.
9 Ibid., p.16.
10 Rutstein, Joel S. et al. Ownership Versus Access: Shifting Perspectives for Libraries. In Advances in Librarianship, 17, 1993, p.33-59.
11 To Dance With Change. p.3.
12 White, Herbert. Collection Development is Just One of the Service Options. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 18, 1992, p.11-12.
13 To Dance With Change. p.8
14 Henshaw, Rod. The Library as Place. College and Research Libraries, 55 (4), July 1994, p.283-285
15 Creth, Sheila D. The Information Arcade: Playground for the Mind. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 20 (1), March 1994, p.22-23
16 What Presidents Need to Know ...
17 Peters, Paul Evan. Ibid.
A Summary Evaluation of James White Library
The self-study done in connection with the 1988 strategic plan presented a clear evaluation of the many aspects of James White Library operation and services. The plan itself established a number of specific goals based on perceived library needs at that time. More recently, the 1994 JWL Commission made eleven recommendations for the future of James White Library.
The Strategic Planning Committee examined the 1988 goals to determine to what extent they have been or are being achieved five years later. The results of this study are found in Appendix C.
The purpose of this section is not to repeat the 1988 study, but to use the information gathered at that time, as well as the Commission's report, to identify the library's current strengths and weaknesses.
The major recommendation of the 1994 JWL Commission was that the library should be reorganized into not more than five or six departments, instead of the eleven then existing. The Commission expressed concern that the library was driven by collections rather than functions, resulting in much wasteful duplication of resources and reference points.
In response to these recommendations, the library was reorganized on July 1, 1994, into five departments and a new office. The new departments are: Technical Services (acquisitions, cataloging and periodicals), Information Services (reference, interlibrary loan, and seminary services), Patron Services (circulation, stack management, and public services), Special Collections (The Media Center, Music Materials Center, and Architecture Resource Center), and the Adventist Heritage Center. A new Office of Resources Development was also established. A goal of the restructuring is more efficient operation of technical functions, and fewer patron service points, especially at low use times.
A recommendation that the two satellite libraries in Music and Architecture be physically integrated into the main library when the library receives a new addition needs further study.
With the reorganization, the former Director's Council was replaced by an Administrative Committee comprising the department heads and an elected member from the support staff. There are several library committees, as well as half a dozen advisory committees with good faculty representation. The librarians continue to be members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, but they now also meet regularly as a library faculty group dealing with professional issues and advising the library director in some policy issues. A librarian liaison program in which librarians are assigned to various segments of the academic departments on campus may also be studied by this group.
Another Commission recommendation was that the library director be a member of the Dean's Council. This received approval of the Vice-President for Academic Administration. It gives the library a voice and an ear at a forum where ideas and issues are aired.
The need to develop a good staff classification ladder was addressed during 1994. The new classification recognizes two Assistant and two Associate employment levels, with appropriate rate spreads, and all staff job descriptions are being plugged into appropriate classifications. (See Appendix D)
A similar job classification, with wage spreads, was developed for student assistants in the library, and took effect in Fall 1994.
Overall, a number of changes involving aspects of library administration are presently in process, and only time will measure the degrees of success of their operation.
Central to a discussion of the library's collections is the dilemma of physical ownership of resources versus electronic access. One must expect that the next few years will see a substantial shifting of fiscal resources from acquisitions to access.
Developing the collections at James White Library has been a shared responsibility between librarians and teaching faculty. Prior to July 1994, however, no person had an overall or coordinating responsibility for collection development in the broadest terms. There is also a sense that the library is not sufficiently involved or informed when academic programs are dropped or added. The library's collection development should be informed and guided by changes in programs and courses.
In July 1994, a Resources Development Librarian was appointed with broad responsibility for balanced development of library resources in all formats, book and periodical, print and electronic. Evaluation and weeding of the collection is included in this responsibility. An early priority will be establishment of a new comprehensive policy on resources development. This policy cannot ignore implications of the global mission of the University, including its responsibilities to affiliated colleges around the world.
Allocation of funds for book purchasing has undergone a progressive decline in real dollar terms during the past ten years in spite of a steady inflation in book prices. This must be of concern, because although the library's total volume statistics give a healthy appearance, the book collection is overdue for weeding in several subject areas. New books continue to be published in ever-increasing numbers, and must be acquired to support all programs, especially in the humanities and social sciences, and wherever graduate programs are being supported.
Of more serious concern is the continued inflation in periodical prices at rates well above the CPI average. Although there have been substantial annual increases in the periodicals budget (from 19.6% of the total acquisitions budget in 1970 to 41% in 1994), these increases have not kept pace with price inflation. The library has been forced to progressively cut its subscription list (from 3500 in 1986 down to 2850 in 1994) to the point where further cancellations will jeopardize the academic credibility of some programs.
In today's climate of academic belt-tightening, annual budget increases of the magnitude required to maintain even the status quo in periodical subscriptions are not a live option. We must consider alternatives, which include greater dependence upon interlibrary loans and replacing some expensive subscriptions with electronic access to their full text. A move in this direction was begun in the 1994/95 school year.
Preservation of library materials, identified as a problem in 1988, continues to be a pressing issue. The problem is compounded by inadequate temperature and humidity control in the library building. There is also an urgent need to upgrade fire protection equipment throughout the building.
Recent user surveys confirm that James White Library enjoys a good reputation for quality service in its various areas and branches.1 The library has a strong general reference department and library instruction program, a well-staffed circulation desk, a busy and efficient interlibrary loan office, and specialized public service points in periodicals, Seminary Library, Adventist Heritage Center, Media Center, Architecture Resource Center, and Music Materials Center. Statistics reveal heavy and increasing use of most collections and services.
The heavily decentralized structure in past years has fragmented reference services to a considerable degree. The July 1994 reorganization looks to reverse this trend by bringing general, seminary and periodical reference services under a single Department of Information Services. Similarly, circulation of materials from several service points is now being centralized at one desk.
The installation of the Innopac fully-integrated library system in 1993 has in many ways revolutionized the library's services. It has streamlined circulation functions and periodical processing. The enhancement of the JeWeL terminals with user-friendly access to the worldwide Internet, and to major bibliographic databases such as WorldCat, SocioFile, as well as the Seventh-day Adventist Periodical Index, has ushered in a new global level of reference service, with unprecedented demand for patron assistance and instruction. The full implications and future possibilities of electronic access to information are just beginning to be felt and enjoyed by librarians and campus faculty.
One area of concern is the inadequate number of hours that James White Library is open during term, which includes being closed for almost 48 hours each weekend from 2 pm. Fridays until 1 pm Sundays. This closure is largely due to Sabbath observance. Interestingly, however, a comparison of library hours of all Seventh-day Adventist institutions in North America shows that only two colleges have fewer hours than James White Library. Demand for extended hours has been consistent, coming from the student body as well as from faculty. An obstacle to increasing the hours has been the cost of staffing multiple service points. The new centralization of services may help to remove this obstacle.
A second concern relates to library support of the various extension programs of Andrews University. The library is rarely consulted when off-campus programs are planned. The result is a near or total lack of library support which must negatively impact the academic quality of these programs, and this at a time when electronic networking provides unprecedented opportunities for off-campus information sharing and document delivery.
Organization of Materials
Replacement of card files with an automated system has been a major challenge for the library's technical services, including cataloging, periodicals and acquisitions. Much has been accomplished in a relatively short time with great effort and staff commitment.
Much remains to be done. Significant holdings remain to be converted to the Innopac system, including substantial collections within the Adventist Heritage Center. The cataloging of these materials will be labor-intensive, requiring the expertise of a librarian with cataloging experience. Recognizing this, the JWL Commission recommended that the library complete its retroconversion as quickly as possible, and hire an additional cataloger to cope with the considerable original cataloging involved. This is an immediate need.
Meanwhile the library should study long-term implications for its technical functions of trends pointing towards contract cataloging services and a move away from print and toward electronic access.
The library's percentage of the adjusted university general and educational expenditures appears to have stabilized at around 6.0% for the past dozen years. This is recognized by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Standards as the minimum acceptable level of library support. It should be seen and treated as a maintenance level. In the present situation at Andrews University, the 6.0% can support core library services. Additional funding is required to maintain the unique Adventist Heritage Center and to support the operation of two branch libraries.
It should also be recognized that the existing level of budget support cannot adequately meet the needs of new academic programs which may be added from time to time. A special library appropriation for a core of materials should be included in the start-up costs for every new program.
Within the past two years, James White Library has taken a bold step into the electronic age with the installation of the Innopac system ("JeWeL"). Substantial funds were allocated for this installation, which included a large order of computer equipment. What is now urgently needed is an appropriate level of annual financial support for replacement, upgrading and additions to the library's electronic equipment. It is not reasonable to expect these needs to be financed from the regular annual library budget.
ACRL Standards call for between 35% and 45% of the library's total budget to be spent for resources, and between 50% and 60% for personnel. Statistics for James White Library during the six years 1989/90 to 1994/95 have shown a gradual slippage in the proportion of budget for resources from 40% in 1989/90 to 36% in 1994/95, and a corresponding rise in personnel costs from 53% to 56%. In an institution where salary and wage levels are below the average for all universities nation-wide, one would hope to see personnel costs closer to the low end of the range (50%) and expenditure on resources to approach the high end (45%)2.
1 In April 1994 the library participated in a nation-wide library user survey sponsored by the American Library Association. James White Library compared very favorably with the responses from academic libraries as a whole.
2 For tabular analysis of JWL budgeted expenditures from 1989/90 to 1994/95, see Appendix E.