SLASIAC Sponsored Interim Report of the Systemwide Library Planning Task Force

On May 4, 2011, Larry Pitts, UC Provost and Executive Vice for Academic Affairs, sent the Interim Report of the Systemwide Library Planning Task Force to all UC Chancellors and the Academic Senate, asking for a review by September 2, 2011. This Task Force was convened by The Systemwide Library and Scholarly Information Advisory Committee (SLASIAC).

The Council of University Librarians has been active in giving feedback to preliminary drafts and will be ongoing participants in any actions that come as a result of this report. Tom Leonard has kept both EVCP Breslauer and the Library’s Administrative Group apprised of the discussions surrounding this report.

As Tom has said about the section on governance, “Governance in a new era of shared services is one of the best sections of this report, giving great hope that the COVC [Council of Vice Chancellors] and CoUL [Council of University Librarians] can have a fruitful relationship.   The suggestion on pg. 19 for ‘a small executive group’ drawn from these bodies and from SLASIAC is a promising idea.”

The Interim Report gives UC Libraries a lot of credit for the extraordinary systemwide savings achieved over the last several years through cooperation. Because of our good track record over the last 35 years (annual savings estimated at $114 million per year), expectations are high that Libraries can achieve even more savings. At the same time, there is consistent acknowledgement that cutting too deep, too fast, or in the wrong places could cripple rather than improve services to users. The UL’s will have quite a bit to say on these points as pieces of the plan are implemented.

The report suggests four broad strategies

  1. Expand and collectively manage shared library services. The report notes that CoUL already has dozens of initiatives ready to move forward, with expected efficiencies and savings.
  2. Support faculty efforts to change the system of scholarly communication
  3. Explore news sources of revenue
  4. Improve the existing framework for systemwide planning, consultation and decision-making.

The report puts forth the estimate that systemwide, libraries may need to cut as much as $52 million over the next six years. Tom reports that he believes this to be the worst case scenario, and probably overly pessimistic. The report also sets very aggressive front-loaded targets (to actually realize $40 million by 2014). These too may shift for the better as the “only to be guessed at future” becomes the known present.

Collections Council will discuss this report at an upcoming meeting.

Best regards, Bernie