4.1 The University of the Pacific Library: Serving a Medium-Sized Comprehensive University
Associate Provost and Dean of the Library
The University of the Pacific is an independent university with about 6,250 students on three campuses in Northern California. A comprehensive university, Pacific offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs in nine colleges. Seven of the nine colleges are found on the main campus in Stockton; San Francisco and Sacramento are home to the dental and law schools, respectively. The University’s mission is “to provide a superior, student-centered learning experience integrating liberal arts and professional education and preparing individuals for lasting achievement and responsible leadership in their careers and communities.” In carrying out this mission, Pacific’s curricular and co-curricular programs emphasize high levels of student success, leadership development, learning both within and outside the classroom, service to community, innovation, and interdisciplinary collaboration.
Compared to most schools of similar size, Pacific offers a broad array of programs and courses, posing specific challenges for developing library resources to support those programs. This article focuses on the characteristics, purposes, programs, and challenges of the Library supporting the 4,700 students (in Fall 2006: 3,530 undergraduate, 530 graduate, and 640 first professional degree students) and approximately 85 degree programs on the main Stockton Campus. These programs are in the liberal arts and sciences, international studies, business, education, music, engineering, and pharmacy and health sciences; Ph.D. programs exist in education and pharmaceutical and chemical sciences. To serve these programs, the Library is organized into a main building and a single branch focused on health sciences. A staff of 28 consists of 8 library faculty members, 17 staff members, and 3 library administrators. The director of the Library holds the title of Dean and reports to the Provost, the chief academic officer of the University. The Dean has academic rank and faculty status, as do each of the librarians.
The annual budget for the Library is approximately $2.4 million, with annual spending of $1.0 million for materials, $250,000 for operations, and $1.13 million for salaries. Print collections number approximately 370,000 volumes. The Library offers 28,000 serials of which approximately 1,300 are available in print. The Library provides access to about 90 electronic databases, many of which offer full text of journal and other article literature. The Library also holds 700,000 microforms, 5,400 linear feet of manuscripts, and 60,000 photographs. Approximately 80,000 borrowing transactions (books, journals, reserves, media, notebook computers, headphones, interlibrary loans, etc.) occur each year while another 30,000 uses of materials within the building also occurs. Uses of electronic texts and resources cannot easily be estimated.
The mission of the University Library is to provide a superior, student-centered learning environment, access to a broad range of information resources and technology to support teaching, learning, and research, and expert assistance and instruction in the use and evaluation of information so that students become information literate, lifelong learners. The Library puts students at the center of services and library development but supports faculty teaching and research as well. To meet the campus community’s diverse information needs, the Library’s primary strategy is to provide networked access to sufficient sources of information. Its primary educational goal is to develop students’ abilities for lifelong learning by building competency in finding and evaluating information. The Library is open to the community and many collections may be used onsite or borrowed by visitors, although most services, including access to computers and databases, are limited to university-affiliated persons.
University of the Pacific’s Library is designed around the teaching and learning center concept, which emphasizes the intentional integration of services and the design of facilities around the learner with librarians and staff as educators. This is differentiated from a more traditional concept of the Library as an information repository designed to hold books and media. A primary exemplar of this concept is the Information Commons, an integrated service site offering networked computer workstations with plentiful software resources and staffed by professionals with varied types of expertise. Research and database consultants, multi-media specialists, and networking experts are available to students in a collaborative and interactive environment. The Library is seen as an extension of the classroom. Librarians seek to partner with teaching faculty to develop curricula that contains learning objectives and assignments related to information competencies. Workload assignments for librarians therefore emphasize their educative role while being balanced with obligations to direct and deliver library programs.
Relating to diverse academic units and the community.
Pacific’s library faculty endeavors to develop meaningful relationships with each of the academic units the Library serves. A liaison system pairs a teacher from each academic department with a librarian, facilitating communication about collection needs, the curriculum, and instruction for students of the program. Collection development decisions are made by librarians, while teaching faculty requests are advisory. It is not considered feasible for the Library to develop subject specializations to match every discipline, but the Library recruits specifically for expertise in areas such as chemistry and health sciences, music and humanities, business, and social sciences. Some librarians serve as many as five departments or disciplines offering an even larger number of programs. The mix of disciplines within a librarian’s assignment often stretches the boundaries of that individual’s educational background as they make judgments about the resource and instructional needs of these varied disciplines. A Library Committee with faculty representatives of the various schools and colleges at the University serves as advisory to the Library in the design of programs, collection development, budget allocations, facilities design, and policies. From time to time, the Library has also established external advisory councils made up of members of the community, other educators or professionals, representatives of business and the media, and alumni of the University. These councils help to shape Library programs and advance public relations efforts.
Outreach and public relations efforts are diverse. The Library publishes a magazine for the campus community, friends, and donors, Speaking Volumes, two to three times per year, to share news about library programs and initiatives, and invite participation and support. Additionally, the library publishes reading lists of interest to various campus groups and to coincide with campus events, co-sponsors book clubs, and develops programmatic initiatives in partnership with academic and student life groups.
Librarians’ faculty roles.
The meaning and impact of librarians having academic or faculty status or rank varies across different academic libraries. At Pacific, librarians have faculty status that is essentially equivalent to other teaching faculty. They are appointed with academic rank and after a specific probationary period (up to six years) are reviewed for tenure and possible promotion in rank. The primary role for most of the librarians is reference and instructing students in research skills. Most technical and managerial roles are performed by other professional staff and administrators. Library faculty are also obligated to engage in research, produce scholarly works that are validated by peer review, and perform service both at the University and professionally. While success in one’s primary role – reference, instruction, etc. – is the most important aspect of performance leading to tenure, librarians cannot be tenured without evidence of success in other areas. The ability to conduct and document research and disseminate it, usually through publication, therefore, becomes an important goal for librarians in the probationary period. Time management – devoting sufficient time to each of the three areas of workload (librarianship, scholarship, and service) to be successful in each – is a significant challenge, especially since the Library is open to serve students and visitors all day long, 100 hours per week, and all year. Librarians may elect to request several days or weeks of research leave each year to pursue specific research projects during the probationary period. After receiving tenure, librarians become eligible for a semester-length research and professional development leave once every five years.
Hiring and retention of faculty is another critical issue for Pacific’s Library. As an independent institution, Pacific sets its own salaries but makes systematic comparisons with average salaries of similar and regional institutions. Salaries for librarians at publicly (state-) supported universities in California are often considerably higher than at Pacific for librarians in comparable positions, making it difficult for Pacific Library to recruit the most talented, experienced librarians and to retain them. While attempts are being made to address the need for higher salaries, professional development in the way of generous funding for training, professional travel, equipment, research support, and other incentives and rewards are used to make Pacific an attractive place to work.
Modestly competitive salaries are also a constraint on hiring and retaining talented administrators and library staff. However, as opposed to faculty and administrators, staff recruiting is largely local rather than national, and many roles can be filled by training talented but inexperienced individuals on the job rather than by recruiting those with experience. Trends in technology and changes in academic libraries have caused staff assignments to change rapidly over recent years. Ongoing training programs and the adaptability of staff are the keys to maintaining an effective and productive staff.
Lobby and café
Although the majority of library users are students who live in campus housing and who can easily visit the Library in person, the Library’s services have been developed to serve both on-site visitors and those who access the Library via the network. The main library and its branch offer varied types of study spaces including computer workstations, open tables, carrels, and group study rooms that seat four to eight students. The ample size of workstations, tables, and the group study rooms is designed to encourage collaboration between students. Currently the Library provides approximately 600 seats for the campus’ 4,700 students; after planned renovations, the Library will expand seating capacity to 700. A café just inside the main entrance invites students to enjoy refreshments while they study. The entire main building and the Health Sciences Branch are equipped with wireless access and notebook computers are available for students to use anywhere within either building. The notebook computers, group study rooms, and workstations in the Information Commons are among the most popular services offered by the Library. Rooms for listening and viewing audio and video materials are available, as well as space for students to practice presentations using projection equipment made available for student use.
Library Instruction Classroom
While the main library is open approximately 100 hours per week, almost all services are available on a 24/7 basis through the campus network and Internet. Through its website (www.pacific.edu/library) library users can access full-text of nearly over 25,000 electronic journals and other texts through databases and indexes, electronic books, electronic course readings, digital images of art, and digital audio collections. Instructional tutorials provide guidance in using research materials and a virtual tour helps identify locations of various library functions and resources. The Library offers electronic reference services through a live chat format or asynchronously. Increasingly, students demonstrate their preference for electronically delivered information and services. While use of these services has increased each year, face-to-face interactions have decreased. Because of this, librarians are exploring new modes of electronic communication including virtual and instant messaging reference interactions.
Because the Library has existed on the Stockton campus for many years (the campus was established in 1924), a large book and media collection exists. These collections, however, are growing at a rate of fewer than 3,500 books or media annually as more and more resources are being invested in subscriptions and licenses for databases with full-text of journals and books. Efficient and full access to the Library’s resources, especially the most current, requires use of the library’s integrated library system, ExLibris’ Aleph. This system is equipped with SFX, an advanced feature that allows for open URL linking from a citation to library holdings, and Metalib, which allows federated searching across multiple databases. Students’ familiarity with search engines such as Google gives them a sense of proficiency in searching the library’s databases and systems. Assessment of their skills however, through pre- and post-testing and examination of student papers, demonstrates that many students are not sophisticated in their analysis and selection of content, nor are they consistently able to comprehensively locate available and relevant information. Although instruction in information research skills is a priority for librarians in assisting students, there is not a standardized University course requirement or minimum competency in this area for students. As a result, librarians must actively advocate the importance of students’ achieving such competency at the University and departmental level.
Providing sufficient information to meet the needs of a diverse curriculum is a significant challenge for Pacific Library. While industry estimates of inflation of the cost of books, periodicals, and databases may range from 8 to 14% percent annually, the Library sees a more modest overall rate of about 5 to 6% annually. This rate of increase however, is not always matched by annual budget increases, requiring the Library to become more and more selective about purchases and subscriptions. Faculty from almost every disciplinary area have requested materials the Library is unable to acquire because of the lack of sufficient funds. This “wishlist” of identified but unfulfilled needs is most critical in the science and health disciplines where information is most costly and Pacific’s programs involve doctoral level research. Needs are evident in humanities and social science areas as well. In recent years, funds have been reallocated from the purchase of books to electronic databases. As fewer books are being purchased, the Library has begun to invest in electronic books.
The Library participates in a state-wide consortium of independent institutions that enables its members to purchase electronic content at a discount. A regional consortium also enables resource sharing. While these partnerships greatly aid in maximizing use of the Library’s resources, the University has implemented a multi-year plan to increase library investments to a level that will meet the needs of most disciplines. Library advancement is this area is also dependent upon external funding and the establishment of endowments for materials.
Often what makes a library distinctive is its unique Special Collections. At Pacific, the papers of naturalist John Muir, legendary jazz musician and composer Dave Brubeck, and California history collections attract researchers from around the world to use these unique collections. Access to holdings is provided by complete indexing of content and some images on the Online Archive of California (find University of the Pacific Library’s holdings in the Online Archive at www.oac.cdlib.org/institutions/). The Library offers grants that assist researchers to travel to Stockton to use materials in person. Developing space to preserve and appropriately house print materials in Special Collections is an important part of an ongoing renovation project at Pacific Library. Currently these collections exceed the capacity of allocated space within the current building and some materials are stored in off-site storage. The renovation project will result in a larger and more environmentally protective storage space for these valuable, historic, and rare materials.
The Library has a comprehensive development program that is managed by the Dean and a Director of Development assigned to work with the Library. Fundraising goals are set both within the context of a University-wide campaign and to meet other library needs. While current priorities are to raise sufficient funds to complete the ongoing expansion and renovation project (total cost approximately $8.5 million), a long-term goal is to raise endowment funds to support future information needs, enhance Special Collections programming, and keep the technology infrastructure and equipment up-to-date. The Library would like to increase its current $1.7 million endowment to approximately $8.0 million. Foundation and corporate grants as well as individual gifts are also integral to funding library projects, including the expansion and renovation of the building, and initiatives underway or in planning in Special Collections to digitize rare materials.
Emerging trends and future vision.
The Library periodically engages in comprehensive program review linked to a reassessment of strategic goals for the next five to seven years. This effort has resulted in the identification of emerging trends and the need to align the future vision of the library with university strategic goals. These trends include the declining use of print materials in favor of electronic sources; the publication of materials in electronic formats only; library leadership in the development of digital repositories of content created by faculty; the impact of Google on how people search for information and their preference for simple search mechanisms; the tendency of students to prefer the Internet rather than library-selected scholarly sources for solving their academic information needs; and the increased use of library services and resources from remote locations (even from just across campus). The Pacific Library’s future vision therefore includes sustaining a dynamic teaching and learning center with proactive, integrated, learner-centered services; helping faculty design instructional programs that integrate information research skill development into all appropriate curricula; continuing to prefer electronic formats and expanding digitization initiatives as potential strategies for expanding access to information; providing leadership in developing ways to share and preserve content created by the University’s faculty; strengthening the delivery of network-accessible services for remote users; and protecting and promoting the Library’s distinctive and valuable Special Collections.
Library (from Southeast)