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Library Services and User Education

The Library Services and User Education subcommittee, formed by ULC action in late fall 1994, oversees services and educational opportunities offered to library users. Formation of the subcommittee was prompted by issues arising from the report of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Campus Circulation Policies (presented to the ULC at its May 10, 1994 meeting) and by the growing need for library user education.
The subcommittee focused its attention primarily on circulation issues, particularly campus library circulation policies. Consequently, the subcommittee initiated a review of circulation policies of libraries across campus, making extensive use of the material gathered and summarized by the Ad Hoc committee on Circulation Policies.
The overall objective in this area is to offer recommendations to the ULC in order to provide more uniformity across campus libraries consistent with the ideal of providing fair and improved access to collections. Achieving this involves a series of sequential recommendations for ULC consideration and approval, as opposed to recommending a single, all-inclusive revamping of existing policies.
The subcommittee surveyed the circulation policies of various campus libraries and decided to focus initially on a review of loan periods. The campus-wide standard for loan periods for students was found satisfactory, despite variation in length (In general, the loan period for students is a semester or less, with the majority of libraries permitting a 4 week loan interval.). Consequently, no changes in undergraduate loan periods were recommended. This issue will be reviewed again soon.
In contrast, faculty and staff were extended automatic renewal privileges or indefinite loan periods at many campus libraries. The subcommittee believes this unfairly places responsibility for accounting for checked-out materials with library staff as opposed to the individual using the material, dramatically reducing the availability of the collection to other users. Furthermore, the process of automatically renewing material checked out by faculty is costly in terms of time and effort of the library staff and contributes to eventual loss of material from the collection.
For these reasons, the subcommittee recommended the elimination of automatic renewal privileges for faculty and staff. The recommended policy was consistent with a similar proposal approved by the Memorial Library committee. The proposal was presented, discussed and approved unanimously by the ULC at its May 9, 1995 meeting. Amendments included: 1) limitation of loan period for items loaned by graduate students to a maximum of two years to be consistent with faculty loan periods; and 2) implementation of the policy by all campus libraries and not merely those named in the original proposal. It was noted that the library circulation staff could take extenuating circumstances into account as appropriate when circulating and renewing materials, in recognition of the different needs and use patterns among faculty in various disciplines. The policy to eliminate automatic renewal for faculty and staff became effective in January 1996.
The subcommittee's agenda for the upcoming year includes plans to monitor the following activities:
The subcommittee is also addressing the issue of loan periods for all materials, circulation of current journals, and establishment of a minimum campus standard (it is currently anticipated that individual libraries would have the flexibility to adopt a more stringent standard if they desired).
Toward this end the subcommittee has circulated a questionnaire to all the campus libraries requesting information on how a standardized loan policy would impact their constituencies. To date the subcommittee has received responses from 23 of 25 libraries polled.
Finally, the subcommittee wishes to review responses from the user survey concerning library hours in an attempt to document the extent of user dissatisfaction.


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