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October 11, 2005 - University Libraries Report

Senate University Libraries Committee Report
October 11, 2005

The Libraries Committee met on Friday, September 30. There are three items on which we would like to report:

  1. Budget restrictions combined with inflation in the cost of serials will requiere the campus libraries to trim the list of subscriptions beginning in 2008. The last time such an exercise was necessary was in 2003, and it was expected at that time that those cuts would allow the libraries to operate for three years, until 2006. The allocation of funding from the statewide Life Sciences Initiative provided some relief, and negotiation of MU-wide contracts postponed the inevitable day of reckoning for two additional years. The library administration will be preparing lists of the serials that are purchased for each academic department, their costs, and their utilization, during the spring and summer of 2006. Library representatives from each department will coordinate the decisions about which of them will necessarily be eliminated. In 2003, the cuts amounted finally to about $250K per year (a much larger number was originally feared), but there is not yet any estimate about the amount for this cycle.
  2. There is an important new serials database available through the library now. It is called SCOPUS, and it is a direct competitor to one that has become familiar to many of us, Web of Science. These are both very powerful resources, and they are both very expensive. We have SCOPUS on a trial basis until October 2006, at which time only one of the two will be continued. SCOPUS covers more serials (14,000 vs 4,500 for WoS), but that is as important as whether the one chosen covers the serials that you need. The important thing is to try both of these resources out, and then express your preference to a member of the Libraries Committee, or to Dean of Libraries Amy Arnott.
  3. Several faculty members have expressed concern that Social Security Numbers (SSN) are used in requests for library materials such as Interlibrary Loans through the Web interface. This is clearly an inappropriate use of SSN's and represents a possible source of identity fraud. A step in the direction of elimination of this problem has come with the ability now to request such materials using one's employee identification number (with a leading zero appended) instead of the SSN. This change does little toward the elimination of the problem, however, because as long as SSN's are maintained for ratification, there is the possibility that they could be misappropriated. The Library Committee voted its support for efforts to eliminate the practice of using SSN's for this purpose, both for students and for faculty. The solution will necessarily involve the cooperation of all of the members of Merlin, and there has been considerable progress recently in the right direction. The intention is that students will also be identified online using an alternative identifier, but it is more difficult to use student numbers across institutions than it is to use employee ID's for faculty and staff. It is hoped that a solution for both students and faculty will become effective within the next year or so. The Merlin Consortium will be voting on these matters at their October meeting.

Hal Harris, for the Libraries Committee:
Dorothy Akerson, Nursing
Amy Arnott, Dean of Libraries
Mary Ann Coker, Student
David Kimball, Political Science
Tiffany Patton, Student
*Shirley Porterfield, Social Welfare
Vicki Sauter, Business Administration
Kim Song, Teaching and Learning
*Brian Vandenberg, Psychology
Susan Waller, Art and Art History