What would it be like to live in a house without a mirror, a clock, scales, tape measures, or thermometers? What about a world without weather forecasts? How would we be able to plan for the future or gauge our own lives?
This is the role that assessment plays for institutions: holding up a mirror, measuring needs, gauging effectiveness, helping us understand our world, our users, ourselves, our progress. It is a crucial function, especially in times of rapid change, like ours.
For the past several years, we have been updating the faculty on library news at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters. This letter was sent out to them last week and I wanted to share it with you. Thanks, once again, for the good work of Assessment and Communication for preparing this impressive update. I trust you are also enjoying the return of the students (and the departure of their parents!)
Subject: News for faculty (Gettysburg, Borrow Direct, and more)
Having just come off two weeks of vacation, I return to work well rested and ready to greet the new crop of freshmen arriving soon. I think about these near-adults and the opportunities before them over the next four years. And I’m reminded of my own self at 18: naïve, optimistic, in a hurry. I also think about my parents’ generation and how their young lives were abruptly changed by the onset of World War II. Next week, new students will be discussing Julie Otsuka’s When the Emperor was Divine, about a family of Japanese-Americans who spent the war in an internment camp.
About a year ago, both Harvard and MIT libraries became fully participating partners in Borrow Direct. This week we will welcome the University of Chicago. The consortium currently boasts more than 50 million volumes, and during its 14-year history, more than 1.5 million items have been shared. On Thursday, August 1, Chicago holdings will begin appearing in search results in BorrowDirect. The University of Chicago’s physical volume count is at about 8.6 million volumes, 45% of which are non-English and published outside the United States.
In sharing the June update from HathiTrust, Michelle Paolillo mentioned the work she and other CUL staff have been doing in negotiating with offices around campus to provide mediated access for the visually impaired to the in-copyright books from Cornell’s holdings that are also in HathiTrust. This service will allow eligible Cornell patrons to access and use digital versions of the 2 million or so books that have been hitherto inaccessible due to copyright restrictions.
This coming Thursday and Friday, Lee and I will present updates at the All-Staff meetings. Lee will cover financial issues, including the impact of the new budget model on the Library. I’ll be reporting on our progress towards lessening our load and preparing for the future, based on recommendations that we presented at the February All-Staff meeting. One major step forward that I’d like to focus on today is the effort to adopt a uniform website architecture.
We have just posted the 2012-2013 Library Annual Report to the Provost. As I reviewed the report, I was struck again by how incredibly impressive and broad is the library’s reach.
A week or so ago we held our annual service awards brunch, honoring individuals with a combined total years of service of 984. If one person had worked that long at CUL, they would have started in 1029, several years after the world’s first paper money went into circulation in China, four years before the 1,000th anniversary of Christ’s death, and just before The Book of Healing was published as a comprehensive scientific and philosophical encyclopedia written by the Persian polymath Avicenna (no doubt that book would have been cataloged by this person).
After 37 years of service to Cornell University, Lee Cartmill has announced his intent to retire effective October 1, 2013. Lee joined the Library in January 1992 and has served with great distinction as the Associate University Librarian for Administrative Services. As the chief financial and administrative officer for CUL, Lee has responsibility for the financial, human resource and facilities operations of the library system, with its an annual budget of $58 million.
I’m pleased to announce that our Campaign for Collections took a giant step forward this month, when Eileen and Jay Walker agreed to co-chair the effort. To quote Eileen: “The quality of an institution's library speaks volumes about the values of the institution. This campaign is not solely about buying more books, though books may be part of the story. This is about having the tools, paper or electronic, that a 21st-century research university should have available to scholars.