This week we celebrate the 32nd year that the American Library Association has sponsored Banned Books Week. This annual event highlights threats to our right to read, a freedom embodied in the First Amendment to the Constitution. It gives me immense pride that libraries have been at the forefront of those committed to protecting that right, which has two important aspects. The first is providing access to materials that document all political and social stripes.
Below is the letter that went out to all faculty on September 5th updating them on important developments in the Library. These semi-annual emails are designed to supplement the liaison contacts with faculty that occur on a regular basis. Our hope is these letters keep faculty informed but also serve as the means for engaging them with library staff, perhaps even sparking new conversations. I’m pleased to report that I received a number of emails back from faculty, thanking us for the exemplary service and offering suggestions on a number of topics—most notably on the open-access front.
I’ve had three strong mentors during my professional life. The first taught me how to step up and embrace my job as a career. She emphasized the importance of challenging assumptions while respecting library norms and values. My second mentor urged me to take a broader view of my work, to understand it in the context of the good of the whole, and to see value in an administrative role. My third mentor helped me deal with disappointments and setbacks. He stressed two things: the importance of doing what I thought was right even if it proved unpopular and the importance of work/life balance.
I wrote you in early August with the news that the Library will absorb the budget cut this year without facing staff layoffs. I’m now writing to let you know how we will accomplish the task of trimming $715,000 from our budget. Each member of the Library Executive Group has worked hard to identify ways to come up with cuts by sacrificing empty lines and carefully scrutinizing other expenses in the operating budget. Lib Exec made the commitment years ago to streamline leadership and contribute to budget savings.
Take One: August 25, 2014 (Upcoming administrative changes in response to John Saylor’s pending retirement)
Last month I shared the news that John Saylor will retire in early January after nearly 42 years of working at Cornell. I wanted to let you know how his portfolio will be handled in light of this loss. Recall that as the AUL for Scholarly Resources and Special Collections, John is responsible for Collection Development, Kroch Asia, and the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections. After careful review and given the financial constraints under which the Library is operating, I believe we can distribute these responsibilities without hiring another AUL.
The All Staff meetings and a recent Take One presented sobering news about budget cuts, past and present. Since then, LEG has worked hard to come up with a plan for meeting this year’s cut. Although the total amount is substantial, I’m pleased to report that we do not believe any staff layoffs are necessary to meet this cut. Instead, we are looking at empty lines and other expenses in the operating budget. We will be providing greater detail in early September but I did not want to wait until then to put your mind at ease.
As reported at the All Staff meetings last week, the Library, like all other units on campus, faces a 1% budget reduction in appropriations this year. Adding in additional costs that are not covered by the university appropriations, our cut will be 1.5%. LEG is currently working to come up with ways to absorb these cuts with minimal impact on staff and as strategically as possible to protect the Library’s long-term relevance. This reduction comes on the heels of years of major retrenchments both campus-wide and in the Library.
This Thursday and Friday, Ezra Delaney and I will be presenting at the All-Staff meeting. I will introduce new staff, present highlights of the past year, and look towards the future. Ezra will update you on budgetary and financial issues and present details on this fiscal year's budget. We will also discuss our process for engaging the schools and colleges in "making the case" for the library. We will leave plenty of time for questions and comments at the end.
It is with mixed feelings that I write to let you know John Saylor will be retiring on January 5, 2015. Having arrived in Ithaca in 1973(!), John has ably served Cornell University Library through the years as Director of the Engineering Library, Director of Collection Development for the National Science Digital Library Project, and as Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Resources and Special Collections.
Today is Ed Weissman’s last day at work. Because he is irreplaceable, I’ve decided not to replace him. Instead, we are establishing a Library Administration Fellowship position as another opportunity for CUL staff to expand their skills and experiences, this time in library administration. Similar to the Digital Scholarship Fellowship position, I see this program as supporting our objectives of "empowering staff to explore gaps in their areas of expertise" and "promoting flexible staffing among the units." I am pleased to invite applications for the position.