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Campus Libraries

The subcommittee on the campus libraries (SCL) examined the administrative structures of library systems on campus, ranging from the semi-autonomous libraries of various colleges to the smallest reading rooms, and determined that the overall system functions well. The SCL reviewed the reports on the merger between the Pharmacy Library and the Center for Health Sciences Library (the Weston and the Middleton libraries). It found the merger plans sound and concluded that the fiscal changes to bring this about are easier to accomplish than procedural matters of integration.
The SCL discussed further consolidation of libraries on campus. Consolidation can mean altering the administrative chain of command, reassigning staff, or actually moving books. The SCL found no libraries with demonstrated high cost-inefficiency. It also found that departmental libraries perform at a high level so that little savings would be gained from consolidation. Furthermore, there are considerable up-front costs in moving, building, or remodeling libraries, for which funds are currently unavailable. The Health Sciences and Pharmacy merger is made possible because of a building program not yet underway. There are, on the other hand, opportunities for a lateral consolidation whereby multiple copies of older, less-used journals are integrated into one or two complete sets and placed conveniently to serve the campus. Also, advances in the library computer network may allow sharing digital material from a central facility. Cost-benefit plans for library consolidation in which one librarian serves several departmental libraries may be on the horizon. User-charges may be required one day for services (such as inter-library loans) that are now free. Cooperative plans, short of consolidation, should be encouraged, such as the ones in effect for Steenbock and Biology, and Business and the Social Science Reference Collection.
SCL investigated the relation between the Wisconsin Historical Society Library and the campus library system. The SCL, working with members of the Memorial Library Committee, reviewed the documents from the mid-1950s that described the agreements the SHSL had with the University. The SCL believes that this agreement is in need of review and revision to avoid unnecessary duplication and unintentional gaps. For example, SHSL's decision in 1993 to reverse the policy of acquiring microform copies of US newspapers is proving not to be in the best interest of campus teaching and research programs because they are not found anywhere else on campus. The SCL will continue to meet with professionals at the SHSL over matters of coordination and mutual interest. Campus libraries would benefit greatly from electronic access to the SHSL collection.
The issue of placing a parking ramp behind Steenbock Library in a space once reserved for building addition provides a forceful demonstration that significant additional space for library expansion is unlikely.


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Last modified July 7, 1998

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