The Council of Voting Members of the Center for Research Libraries convened on Tuesday April 22 at the Hotel Sofitel in Rosemont, Illinois. The Council is the major governance body of the CRL consortium, responsible for the election of the Board of Directors, approval of the operating budget, and consideration and ratification of any revision to the Center’s bylaws. The Council is composed of the library director and a designated faculty or administration representative from each of the Center’s ninety-two largest participating institutions..
The business session portion of the meeting consisted of reports by CRL’s officers about the past activities and current status of the organization and the governance decisions for the coming year. Outgoing Board Chair Stanley Chodorow, concluding his second one-year term, spoke of the progress that CRL has made toward the implementation of the strategic objectives first brought to the Council one year ago, although he warned that the difficult financial environment faced by the higher education community will continue to pose challenges to the Center in coming years. He stressed that CRL needs to continue to communicate to its members and the academic community the unique value it provides to the scholarly community because of its nature as a consortium of committed partners rather than a mere commercial content provider.
Secretary Frances Groen reported on the current status of CRL membership, which has held fairly stable for the past year with a slight contraction for the coming year, and the membership recruitment activities assisted and supported by the Membership Committee. Treasurer Rick Schwieterman reviewed the financial results for the previous and current years, noting the significant improvement in the Center’s financial condition during that time, and discussed the financial oversight and budget guidance carried out by the Budget and Finance Committee. President Bernard Reilly outlined the steps that have been taken over the past year to increase the value provided by CRL to its members – in the areas of acquisitions, cataloging, expanded accessibility, and new grant-funded activities.
The Council elected the new members of the Board of Directors for the coming year (see following article) and approved the CRL operating budget for FY2004, a budget consistent with the constrained financial conditions faced by academic libraries. The unrestricted revenue for the Center for FY 2004 is budgeted to decline by 2.7%, primarily because of a decision taken to impose no increase in the average fee paid by returning members. (Due to the annual reallocation of membership fees based on changes in the relative size of the members, some institutions may see a lower fee while others experience a small increase.) Unrestricted expenses are budgeted to decline by 3.3%, with a number of contributing factors. Personnel costs are projected to decline 5%, based on a lower number of employees and the second year of no merit or cost-of-living increase in salary levels for CRL staff. The amount spent on collection development is being held approximately unchanged from the level instituted for the past several years, although some reallocation within the collections budget will allow for a restart of several general circulation U.S. newspaper titles. Overall, the Center’s proposed budget will result in a modest addition to reserves of approximately $60,000, above the $21,000 mandated by the Center’s borrowing agreements.
Election of New Board Members, Officers
At the annual Council meeting, Susan Brynteson of University of Delaware and Alice Prochaska of Yale University were elected to new three year terms on the CRL Board of Directors, while David Ferriero of Duke University, Cliff Haka of Michigan State University, Rick Schwieterman of OCLC, and David Shulenburger of University of Kansas were elected to second three year terms.
Carl Stoffle of the University of Arizona was elected Chair of the Board (after serving as Vice-Chair for two years, David Shulenburger was elected Vice –Chair, Frances Groen of McGill was re-elected as Secretary, and Rick Schwieterman as Treasurer. The CRL Board and membership wishes to extend its sincere thanks to outgoing Board members Marianne Gaunt of Rutgers University and Merrily Taylor of Brown University, who provided the organization with valued service during the past six years.
Keynote: Libraries and Developing Nations
The program portion of the meeting of the Council of Voting Members included a keynote presentation on the state of academic libraries in developing nations and a roundtable discussion on the cooperative archiving of print versions of journals also available in electronic format.
The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Kennette Benedict, Senior Advisor on Philanthropy for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, who recounted her experiences relating to academic libraries in developing nations and the possibilities for collaboration between those institutions and their North American counterparts. Dr. Benedict spoke of the challenges confronting these libraries, including the scarcity of financial resources, the poor state of the indigenous communications infrastructure, government censorship, the need to recognize intellectual property rights, and problems in sustaining local research resources in the face of dominance by foreign research agencies. She urged that research libraries entering into cooperative arrangements with academic libraries in developing nations have a clear idea of their goals for the partnership at the outset, and that the nature of the underlying agreements take into account the needs and strengths of the developing country’s institutions. Dr. Benedict observed that this clear sense of the recipient libraries’ needs and strengths is missing in the “rummage sale” approach that some Western libraries take to providing material aid. She also remarked that, in many of the developing nations in which the Foundation is active, librarians are often among those that have the clearest sense of the challenges and possibilities.
Print Archives for Electronic Journals
The keynote address was followed by a “Forum on Electronic Journals Print Archiving”, moderated by incoming CRL Board Chair Carla Stoffle. The main thrust of the discussion was how consortia have successfully collaborated to store and archive the print versions of publications that are available in electronic format. Participants included Beverlee French, Director of Shared Digital Content, California Digital Library, Edward Shreeves, Director of Collections and Information Resources, University of Iowa Libraries, and Melissa Trevvett, Vice President for Programs and Services at CRL.
Ms. French discussed the approach of the University of California System to the storage and preservation of print copies of Elsevier Science journals also available in electronic format. The UC System is developing a “dim archive” in which article access to print versions will be available through scanned or photocopied versions or at an on-site reading room. She noted that the long history of system-wide collaboration in California provides a beneficial environment for undertaking such a project, but that issues relating to the proper calculation of volume counts for participating libraries were difficult to resolve. Other issues being addressed in the UC project include levels of acceptance by librarians and faculty members that vary from institution to institution, the effect on institutional financial support and external rankings, and the lack of proven funding models.
Edward Shreeves discussed the establishment of a CIC print archive project of Elsevier titles, based on voluntary participation with each participant retaining a single print copy of titles available in electronic format. This distributed archive is characterized as a “light archive”, with the materials available in physical format through interlibrary loan, and focused on current and prospective issues rather than retrospective holdings. Ed also noted a rapid shift underway in users’ attitudes, with many more willing to forego print access where electronic access is available.
Melissa Trevvett discussed the distributed print archive project currently underway at CRL, a project made possible by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. CRL and its partner institutions are working to establish a retrospective “light” archive of humanities and social science journal titles available in electronic format through JSTOR. It is expected that the experience gained in this project in terms of drafting formal agreements, establishing adequate preservation standards and use protocols, and determining user demand for this service will provide future guidance for projects dealing with other types of journals and materials.
The presentations were followed by active discussion with the meeting attendees. Moderator Stoffle noted that the discussion will serve as a positive precursor to the more detailed discussion of these topics to be held at the upcoming conference Preserving America's Printed Resources; The Role of Repositories, Depositories and Libraries of Record to be hosted by the Center in Chicago on July 21, with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.