When I was a junior archivist back in St. Louis, I always wondered just what it was my boss did in her office all day. She wasn’t processing papers, working with researchers, or staffing evening hours. When I finally replaced her, I realized that her job was a lot different from mine. I quickly gained an appreciation for both the importance of what she did and the challenges she faced. So, just in case you’ve been wondering what the University Librarian does with her time, I thought I’d share some of the things that have been on my plate this past week.
It’s time to welcome new students to campus and what better way than to bring them together to discuss a wonderful book. This year’s new student reading selection is a real gem. The Life Before Us, by Romain Gary, is the story of an orphaned Arab boy, Momo, and his devotion to Madame Rosa, a dying 68-year-old, 220 lb. survivor of Auschwitz and retired “lady of the night.” Their love story is both tragic and affirming. What makes the book so wonderful from my perspective is Momo’s creative use of language.
Thanks to all of you who were able to attend last week’s All Staff Meeting. I really appreciated the Q&A portion of the meeting and would appreciate any thoughts you might have on how we can build on that time to engage more fully. For those of you who were unable to attend the meeting, the PowerPoint presentation is available at http://staffweb.library.cornell.edu/AllStaff.
This week we will hold two All Staff Meetings, the first of which is scheduled for today at 2:00-3:30 in G-10 Biotech and will be repeated on Tuesday, July 24, 9:30-11:00, also in G-10 Biotech. We’ll be updating you on our current Priority Objectives as well as next steps in moving the Strategic Plan forward. Managers’ Council has been analyzing and discussing the rich data from the listening sessions and dropbox comments, and we’ll be presenting some of their recommendations for responding to staff concerns.
The FY2011/2012 annual report to the Provost is now available on Staff Web at: http://staffweb.library.cornell.edu/annualreport. It follows an outline provided by the Provost’s office and details the amazing amount of work and accomplishments you all have contributed to this past year.
Last week I had the honor and privilege of participating in an international roundtable organized jointly by the Myanmar Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Open Society Foundations, established by investor and philanthropist George Soros. This event would not have been possible even a year ago, but its occurrence reflects how the opening up of Myanmar under the new president is beginning to reach higher education.
A common lament by students and faculty is that as more material goes online or out to the annex they are not able to do physical shelf browsing. Never mind that related content might well be dispersed across a range of locations on campus (consider social science materials, which are located in nine different libraries) and relevant materials such as dvds, websites, e-books, and primary source materials are not co-located in the stacks.
“Why so much emphasis on collections as opposed to staff?” was a comment expressed in a number of the listening sessions and I wanted to respond to that concern in this week’s Take One. It’s definitely true that we’ve been focusing a great deal of attention to the decline in our collections, as measured by ARL data and expressed by faculty in their petition. And access to major donors and the deans’ commitment to fund raise on behalf of the library is motivated by genuine concerns over our ability to remain competitive, as measured by the strength of our holdings.
Last week, Zsuzsa Koltay released the rough notes from the listening sessions and drop box, which are available at http://staffweb.library.cornell.edu/StaffSurvey. She noted that there were 55 participants in the 11 listening sessions and 24 responses in the drop box. These sessions were designed to provide staff with an additional opportunity to discuss the survey results and to add additional issues/concerns as well as to suggest opportunities for improvement within the library.
A key lawsuit has recently been adjudicated on the topic of fair use. In May, a federal judge ruled on an copyright infringement lawsuit against Georgia State University (IGSU) brought by Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Sage Publishing, alleging the university infringed their copyrights in the use of electronic course material. The result appears to be an overwhelming defeat for the publishers. The court found that in many cases, the publishers could not show that they actually owned the copyright in the works.