University Libraries Committee

Report to the Faculty Senate



Committee Chair:  Thomas H. Charlton, Anthropology


The University Libraries Committee met monthly (September 16, October 14, November 15, 2005 and February 10, March 10, April 14, 2006). The minutes for each of the first five meetings have been approved and posted at the Committee web site. The draft minutes for the last meeting are also posted. The University Libraries Committee web site is linked off the University’s charter committee page:  committees/University  Libraries.html. The web page was suggested and developed by Kelly Avant, Secretary to the University Librarian, Nancy Baker. Committee membership, meeting schedule, meeting agenda, and minutes are posted on the site making information readily available to Faculty, Staff, and Students.


The 2005-2006 Committee continued the focus of the 2004-2005 Committee on the high cost of scholarly publications and the ways the higher education community can influence these costs. To a lesser extent the 2005-2006 Committee also dealt with the libraries budget and space concerns.   In  addition to these foci the 2005-2006 Committee, as part of its charge to meet with branch librarians invited them to meet with use and to present to the Committee an oral “state of the branch library” so as to inform us about any perceived concerns so that we were could make recommendations to resolve them. This was carried out in a staggered fashion. Finally the 2005-2006 Committee reviewed Library Book Sale procedures and made suggestions about involving qualified faculty in making decisions about value and retention of gifts-estates-than were received by the library.


The Rising Cost of Scholarly Publications


The current Committee continued to address these concerns-Library costs for journals are rising rapidly-by revising a draft resolution received from the 2004-2005 Committee on September 16 and October 14, and approving a final version. The resolution approved as amended was submitted to the Faculty Council on November 15 where it was approved and sent on to the Faculty Senate where it was approved on November 29.

As 2005-2006 chair of the Committee I attended both meetings to answer any questions.


The resolution was to be disseminated to faculty, departments, and administrators, providing them with concrete suggestions to implement to develop a solution to the increasingly expensive commercially-based journals as paid for by libraries.


During the Spring Semester the University of Iowa Staff Council and the University of Iowa Graduate Student Senate passed similar resolutions based on that developed by the University Libraries Committee.


Despite these actions the problem of high costs of journals remains for the library. The University of Iowa Library has acted in concert with other academic institutions to purchase publishers’ bundles of journals to reduce the overall cost for each institution while obtaining access to a wide range of journals. Electronic access is helpful in replacing print versions and reducing costs.


However, the publishers and rising costs are not the only problem. Inadequate funding of the University by the State of Iowa is a second, and equally important, problem. Inadequate acquisition budgets for the University Libraries will result in a new round of journal cancellations.


Library Budget


 We discussed the budget situation as it pertained to the Libraries. Projections of budget figures by Nancy Baker, the University of Iowa Librarian suggest that by 2007 there will have to be another cycle of journal subscription cuts, something that originated in the 1980s and has occurred during the last quarter century. In addition to the University of Iowa Libraries being directly affected any budgetary problems in other institutions, such as ISU and UNI, with whom we share subscription packages with major journal publishers giving us access to a wide range of journals beyond those the Library has direct subscriptions, could adversely affect the University of Iowa with a loss of access to some journals if those institutions reduce subscriptions to save money.


Space Concerns


We spent substantial time discussing space concerns, both in the context of the Main Library and in the context of the Branch Libraries. For the most part the discussion revolved around the current development of a proposal for long term storage by the Library and the Office of the Provost. The goal of such a storage system is to make heavily used materials available in the Libraries and to have long term accessible storage for other materials. The Main Library would be able to use space freed up by transferring low use collections to a storage facility to store high use materials from Branch Libraries. The development of the long-term storage facility should be followed up next year.


Branch Libraries


We met with the persons responsible for each of the following:


1.      Biological Sciences        Leo Clougherty     November 15, 2005

2.      Chemistry Library            “          “                     “             “

3.      Geoscience Library           “          “                    “             “

4.      Engineering Library           John Forys         February 10, 2006

5.      Mathematic Sciences Lib.    “         “                  “              “

6.      Music Library                   Ruthann McTyre   March  10,  2006

7.      Art Library                        Rijn Templeton     April 14, 2006




Due to time constraints or scheduling conflicts we did not schedule meetings with the following:


1.      Business Library

2.      Hardin Library

3.      Physics Library

4.      Psychology Library


The meetings were informative and informal enabling the Committee members to understand the needs of the Branch Libraries within the University of Iowa Libraries system and to make recommendations particularly in the area of space.




The 2005-2006 University Libraries Committee focused on (1) continuing budgetary problems due to rapidly rising journal costs and inadequate state funding, (2) long term storage proposals, and the needs of the Branch Libraries. All of these are issues that should be monitored during the next Academic Year by the 2006-2007 University Libraries Committee.



Thomas H. Charlton,



Chair, University Lectures Committee,