Since receiving its charter from the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1819, the University of Virginia ("U.Va.," http://www.virginia.edu) has dedicated itself to providing a superb education that creates leaders for the state and the nation.
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson, 1816
The University’s mission is:
". . . to enrich the mind by stimulating and sustaining a spirit of free inquiry directed to understanding the nature of the universe and the role of mankind in it. Activities designed to quicken, discipline, and enlarge the intellectual and creative capacities, as well as the aesthetic and ethical awareness, of the members of the University and to record, preserve, and disseminate the results of intellectual discovery and creative endeavor serve this purpose. In fulfilling it, the University places the highest priority on achieving eminence as a center of higher learning."
The Library has supported the University’s mission since its first session in 1825, when the Library was a collection of several thousand books. Despite its small size, Thomas Jefferson considered the Library central to the University’s intellectual enterprise, and it has positively affected student and faculty lives ever since.
In a move unusual for the time, Jefferson placed the Library, rather than a chapel, at the heart of his design for the University. While the U.Va. Library has long outgrown its original home in the Rotunda, it has never abandoned the notion of community or the importance of faculty and student interactions. Fifteen libraries (including three serving professional schools) support approximately 19,000 students (13,000 are undergraduates) and 2,000 full-time faculty. The University offers, and the library supports, 48 different bachelor’s degree programs, 94 master’s, 55 doctoral, and six educational specialist programs, as well as professional degrees in law, medicine and business.
The U.Va. Library has a long tradition of planning and assessment, involving large numbers of professional and paraprofessional staff. Our plans are aligned with the University’s biennial budget process. A full day retreat every two years is our major planning event and is built on planning discussions held throughout the library, in departments, in teams and committees, and advisory councils such as user services. In the intervening years, we spend a half day fine- tuning our plans and addressing any unexpected opportunities or challenges.
At the day-long planning session in 2003, the staff developed a new vision and guiding principles for the Library.
The University Library facilitates research, teaching, and learning by providing:
easy access to superb collections, information, and services;
physical places that welcome research, study, and discourse in an environment in which people and ideas are respected.
The Guiding Principles:
Collections and Services
Providing access to great collections that are easy to find, easy to use, and that inspire learning and scholarship.
Providing superb service that meets our users’ needs and surpasses their expectations.
Community and Diversity
Cultivating a community where ideas are respected, collaboration is expected, and every individual feels welcome.
Building diverse staff, collections, services and physical spaces.
Responsibility and Accountability
Taking responsibility for realizing our vision through effective stewardship of collections, people, funds, and facilities.
Being accountable for performance.
Enjoyment and Accomplishment
- Enjoying the opportunity to be as curious, creative, and committed to the intellectual enterprise as the people we serve.
Celebrating personal and organizational accomplishments.
The U.Va. Library staff is characterized by a passion for customer service, an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit, and a commitment to collaborating with each other, with students, and faculty at U.Va. and the wider community.
I U. Va. Mission:
"To enrich the mind by stimulating and sustaining a spirit of free inquiry"
Stimulate and sustain that spirit of free inquiry by:
Focused dedication to making information and collections accessible quickly, creatively, and responsibly
Innovative service to deliver those collections to Library users
Imaginative use of physical space for using the collections, for group work, and for enhancing collaboration between faculty and students
1. Access to collections
When the "big deal" works
While the "big deal" often merits its bad reputation, there are times when it can work to the advantage of libraries. Under the leadership of the U.Va. Library staff, the seven Virginia doctoral institutions joined together to negotiate a new five-year contract with Elsevier. The new contract gave all seven libraries access to all of Elsevier's publications at a nominal increase in cost. By recognizing the power each institution had to leverage its subscription dollars through a joint negotiation strategy, the U.Va. library led a big deal that works for faculty, students and staff at all seven institutions.
Making collections deep, diverse, and readily available
We work closely with schools and departments at U.Va. to ensure that we are giving strong support to current and emerging programs. The subject specialists are generally in public services, but they also come from cataloging and elsewhere. For example, the recently retired head of the Physics Library had a Ph.D. in philosophy so was also the subject specialist.
Library resources are key to the University’s mission of enriching the mind. Providing collections that are diverse, deep, and easy to use is a collaborative effort of all the U.Va. Library staff. Interlibrary services, cataloging, public services, acquisitions and subject specialists work as a team to get the job done. One of our recent initiatives set a goal of getting any faculty or student request for a book or article filled within seven days. The staff determined the most expeditious way to meet the goal. Recently, we discovered that we had slipped in our performance, and staff from across the libraries worked as a team to determine what had gone wrong and fix it.
Several years ago, we decided to address the chronic problem of the "recall wars" that occur when a title is in high demand. Circulation staff, Management Information staff, Cataloging staff and subject specialists worked closely together to develop a plan to identify the most requested items and spent $100,000 in acquiring additional shelf-ready copies. The faculty and students were overjoyed, and there was a significant reduction of staff time spent on recalls. We now update this process periodically.
Like many research libraries, U.Va. used to receive recently reviewed books rather slowly. We wanted to get scholarly books reviewed by the Sunday New York Times and the Washington Post available to users as soon as book review sections were published. Staff worked with the U.Va. bookstore and developed a plan by which all titles within scope for our libraries are on the shelves and ready to circulate by Monday morning. This effort involved staff in many parts of the libraries and is much appreciated by faculty and students.
Special Collections staff encourage faculty to incorporate rare books, manuscripts, and archives into their coursework, and both students and faculty tell us that this enriches their classes. We have also improved access to Special Collections by replacing a handwritten request system with an online one, making it far easier for users to request materials. The implementation involved staff well outside the department, such as circulation, information technology, and reference staff. Use of our Special Collections has risen since we have made online descriptions available for more than 95% of the department’s 16 million manuscripts and all of its rare books.
2. Innovative Service:
LEO, or Library Express on-Grounds
LEO is a fast and popular document-delivery service that brings the library to faculty offices and desktops through online request forms ( http://www.lib.virginia.edu/leo/). In its 13 years of existence, usage of LEO has grown an average of 12% a year. In 2003-04, we retrieved and delivered over 36,000 books and articles for faculty. While LEO started in a print world, it now fills most requests in digital form. Faculty tell us that they are more productive as a result of this service.
"This quick note is an attempt to express my gratitude and admiration for the superb services Alderman Library has provided me . . . I’m a newcomer to Virginia . . .I had no idea that life could be this good." ~ Professor of Economics
Our regular faculty surveys prove that LEO is the top ranked library service, and we were able to maintain it even during two major budget crises.
Faculty tell us that they routinely use the existence of LEO as an incentive in faculty recruitment. It works.
"Teaching with Technology," or, "The Laptop Program"
U.Va. had a number of faculty who were early and successful adopters of technology, but there was not a groundswell of activity among the rank and file faculty. We knew that major disincentives included lack of time and experience with the technology.
The Library collaborated closely with the University’s central IT organization (Information Technology and Communications, or "ITC") to develop the "Teaching with Technology" initiative to demonstrate scalable, sustainable approaches for helping faculty incorporate technology in teaching, learning, and research.
In two pilot projects, we gave faculty in the English department and School of Architecture free laptops, but required them to take customized courses in using technology (co-taught by Library and ITC staff) and to use technology in the classroom the following semester. Faculty and students evaluated the projects positively.
"…using technology prompted conversations with students that wouldn’t have happened otherwise." (faculty comment)
"The various multi-media presentations greatly expanded my knowledge of stage design/performance history/18th century culture in general." (student comment)
A proposal for permanent funding has been made.
Microsoft Readers in the Classroom
Starting in 2000, the Library’s EText Center staff worked with faculty, with support from Microsoft, to experiment with the use of handheld devices in the classroom. The first faculty were one early adopter of technology and one self-described Luddite. One faculty member commented that his syllabus had gone from being rigidly linear to non-linear because the students could access the texts anytime and anywhere. We have learned a lot about what works well and what doesn’t. The College of Arts and Sciences is using "tablets" now in large lecture classes.
Digital Media Labs
Again with ITC, we envisioned a comprehensive service for offering faculty and students equipment, workspace, and assistance with digital resources and their use in class projects. We combined budgets and staffing from existing separate services to form the Digital Media Lab, and housed it in Clemons (undergraduate) Library. In one lab project, staff helped a history professor convert the class web site to a fully searchable database.
The lab model was so successful with students and faculty that we created a second lab in the newly renovated Brown Science and Engineering Library.
"Over the years I have come to expect, and perhaps simply take for granted, superb work from the Digital Media Lab. But you have really outdone yourself this time . . . The final product, which I hope you will SHOW OFF to your colleagues in the library, is quite remarkable . . . This will be an incredible resource for students." ~Professor of History
3. Creative use of physical space
Renovation and naming of the Brown Science and Engineering Library (SEL)
One of the priorities resulting from the Virginia 2020 planning process is to strengthen science and technology in a University long known for the humanities. Much of emphasis will be on attracting and retaining the best faculty, getting the best graduate students, and providing ample and appropriate lab space. We know the library can play a large role, and we have laid the groundwork by increasing the science collection budget and completing a renovation and expansion of SEL. What was once the ugliest and most unwelcoming library on Grounds has been transformed into a beautiful new space, including a large reading room with gas fireplace, collaborative study areas, wireless access, well-lit stacks, and digital classrooms.
For three years, SEL Library staff worked amidst construction while the Library was renovated and expanded. The staff had ingenious ideas to help students cope with the noise. They offered them earplugs, they circulated CD players, and they involved them in the renovation process. They exhibited the final architectural drawings so that students and faculty would see what was coming. They even involved students in the selection of furniture. Once the SEL staff had settled on three finalists for a piece of furniture (e.g. task chair, soft seating, reading room chairs etc.), they displayed them and encouraged students to vote. The students made the final choices.
The completed project has contributed a beautiful and popular resource for study to the University, and enjoys a 40% increase in usage. The Library was a central location for the annual "Research Week" program, a series of lectures and presentations of undergraduate research. We also host "fireside chats" (a term new to these students!) by faculty. This fall, a donor who was impressed with the Library staff’s enthusiasm and teamwork, as well as the renovation itself, pledged a major gift to name it in her husband’s honor: The Charles L. Brown Science and Engineering Library ( http://www.lib.virginia.edu/science).
Creating a new home for Special Collections and a place for Library outreach
The University and its Library have long placed an emphasis on the value of using primary resources in teaching and research. Special Collections ( http://www.lib.virginia.edu/small) is a unique and rich resource for scholars, but for 66 years had been located deep inside Alderman, with a beautiful but cramped reading room and difficult spaces for staff, collections, exhibits, and preservation.
Opened in August 2003, the new Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library occupies 72,000 square feet, of which 80% is underground. The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library offers state-of-the art climate and security controls for the collections, ample and appealing room for staff and for readers, and a permanent exhibit on the Declaration of Independence. The Small Library is open unusually long hours (9 am to 9 pm on Monday through Thursday; 9 to 5 on Friday; and all day on Saturday) to provide better access to students, faculty, and other researchers.
The Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture, occupying the above-ground portion of the new building, will feature exhibits, symposia, conferences, and other public programs. It also provides spaces for visiting scholars and for the Center for Undergraduate Excellence (CUE). CUE awards undergraduate research fellowships and handles all the nominations for Rhodes and Marshall scholars.
Re-imagining Alderman Library
The move of Special Collections to the Harrison/Small building offered the first chance since 1938 to make a major redeployment of space within Alderman, a building famous for its labyrinthine layout and spooky spaces. Library staff are working with our student and faculty advisory groups to provide more and better space for faculty, students, and visitors.
Graduate and undergraduate students want a mix of social spaces (one floor of the Clemons undergraduate library is called "Club Clemons"), group study spaces, and quiet spaces. They care about the quality of the lighting, and they appreciate elegance. Our students are extraordinarily respectful of the libraries. A first step in the process is restoring the McGregor Room, a beautiful 1930s period room formerly occupied by Special Collections, to its original purpose as a quiet reading room. Another released space will become an Asian Studies library. Our Asian Studies program is highly interdisciplinary, and our faculty and students have already demonstrated the benefits of a dedicated space to work together. Their previous space was a very long table in a hallway.
II U. Va. Mission:
"Activities designed to quicken, discipline, and enlarge the intellectual and creative capacities . . . of members of the University"
Constant collaboration with faculty to help them explore and use Library resources in their research and teaching
Constant attention to students to learn what they want and how we can deliver it
1. Collaboration with Faculty
Electronic Centers: EText and "Geostat"
Working with faculty in the humanities, the Library created the first digital text center in a library, the EText Center, in 1992. This was a pioneering effort to digitize humanities texts and assist faculty members in using them in teaching and research. Faculty projects created with the help of Library staff include ground-breaking scholarship about the Salem Witch Trials, a hypertext archive of British poetry, and the first prototype of Clotel: A Scholarly Electronic Edition, a digital library project that lets scholars study the relationships among and differences between four editions of "the first African-American novel."
The EText Center has since created more than 70,000 texts, had more than 9 million e-books downloaded from its web site, and successfully completed a million-dollar challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Library staff have helped other institutions around the world create e-text centers, including institutions in New Zealand, Australia, Puerto Rico, Germany, Japan, and Taiwan. See http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/projects.html for more projects.
The Geospatial and Statistical Data Center, or "Geostat," offers faculty and students expert consultation and specialized software to analyze digital geographic and statistical data. Faculty from diverse departments across the University have used Geostat to produce dynamic projects for teaching and research, including mapping geographies of Virginia’s slave trade, creating animated maps of Civil War battles, and producing the first web-based compilation of biographical data about the more than 8,500 people who served the state as governor, delegate, or senator from 1776 onward.
Recently Geostat staff outfitted 30 students from the School of Architecture with scans, digital maps, aerial photos and tools for manipulating these resources. The students traveled to Venice for a semester-long study of the city, and have begun posting the results of their work to a website (http://www.arch.virginia.edu/mt/weblogs/venice/), where you can see how the students have applied raw information to new studies. The Geostat website (http://www.lib.virginia.edu/geostat) was also named "resource of the week" on December 2, 2004, by resourceshelf.com ( http://www.resourceshelf.com/)
Collaborative projects in the sciences
Librarians have also collaborated with faculty and students in the sciences in several projects. The Virginia Climatology project, is a joint effort between the Science and Engineering Library, the Digital Research & Development team, and the departments of Environmental Sciences and Systems and Civil Engineering. The result will be a source of integrated data that will let scholars and state and local officials research problems by exploring, for example, the relationships among weather, traffic, accidents, population, crime, and public safety.
"Modeling Virginia" is a collaborative project between the Library and faculty and students from the systems engineering and civil engineering departments. They are integrating a variety of data collections so researchers can easily explore creative analyses and solutions using different data sets. A joint grant proposal has been submitted to NSF to fund this project.
Space and resources for scholarly projects
The Library offers space and support for scholarly projects including the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH, http://www.iath.virginia.edu/), the Virginia Center for Digital History (VCDH, http://www.vcdh.virgnia.edu/), Rare Book School ( http://www.virginia.edu/oldbooks/), the Center for Undergraduate Excellence ( http://artsandsciences.virginia.edu/cue/), and the Rosetti Archive ( http://www.iath.virginia.edu/rossetti/index.html).
"At the same time the [Library’s] Electronic Text Center was being set up, the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) was being created for faculty. [The Library] made sure that IATH in effect ‘grew up in the library’…. Having IATH located in the library enabled the library to enrich its experimentation with faculty-led production and use of electronic resources." ~ The Digital Library: A Biography by Daniel Greenstein and Suzanne E. Thorin (Washington, DC: Digital Library Federation and Council on Library and Information Resources), pp. 58-59.
2. Listening to students
Since students use the library in different ways than faculty, we established an active student advisory committee that meets with the University Librarian and a number of staff who vary depending on the agenda. Made up of about 20 students from all disciplines and representing undergraduate and graduate students, this group has given us invaluable information. They are smart, imaginative, candid, and reasonable. These dinner meetings in the library always generate lively discussion and ideas for change.
The students told us loud and clear that only the geekiest of them would come to library orientation programs and that printed brochures were a waste of time and money. The Clemons (undergraduate) library staff took this to heart, and decided on a new approach with an innovation grant of $10,000 from library administration. They appointed a team of students, not student employees, to use the money to create an orientation film that students would watch.
The students interviewed many members of the staff in order to frame the messages to be conveyed. They conceived, directed, and produced an orientation video that has been shown at first-year information sessions and on our web site, where it was downloaded an average of 30 times a day, from 66 countries in addition to UVa during 2003-04. The video was also featured by Apple computer in its "Profiles of Excellence" series ( http://www.apple.com/education/profiles/virginia/index2.html), and the students who made it have since gone on to careers in digital video production. We are told that the video has become a cult classic on Grounds.
The U.Va. Library was one of – if not the—first university libraries to open a coffee bar actually inside the library. Students craved coffee, especially late at night, and the library staff were tired of serving as the coffee police. Knowing that the Faculty Senate agenda that year was to foster informal student/faculty interaction, we relaxed the food policy, moved out the card catalog, and put in a cafe that has since become the favorite place for students, faculty, and visitors alike. It begins their experience with the library, and does so in a friendly, welcoming way.
"My favorite example of informal teaching space is the Alderman Café in what used to be the catalogue hall, where students and faculty share yuppie coffees while working together over books, laptops, and notebooks. Similar meeting ground in other places will be built into our new buildings." ~ John Casteen, President of the University of Virginia
A number of faculty now hold office hours in the café and tell us they do more business there than they had in their offices. One physics professor even teaches his seminar in the café.
We knew we had a major impact on the lives of students when the Vice-President for Student
Affairs told us that three different consultants brought in to look at student life all reported that students said the library was the center of their academic lives outside the classroom.
III U. Va. Mission:
"Activities designed to quicken, discipline, and enlarge the . . . aesthetic and ethical awareness of the members of the University"
Beautifying spaces, both inside and outside
Programs and exhibits that engage and inspire
1. Beautifying Spaces
A new public space for reading, strolling, learning and talking
The Library’s latest building, the new Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library, was designed to have the majority of its square footage underground, to preserve the treasured open space, trees, and views that contribute to the University’s position as a World Heritage Site ( http://www.cr.nps.gov/worldheritage/us-jef.htm). Working with the University’s Landscape Architect, Facilities Management, and design and construction teams, the Library envisioned not only an improved interior space for reading, teaching, and learning, but an exterior landscape that would engage Library users with rich variety and places to read and discourse.
The new public space features myriad trees and plants, chosen to echo Jefferson’s ideas for a botanical garden for teaching and learning. Benches, pathways, and lights create a beautiful new open space that unites the new and existing libraries (Clemons, Alderman, and Harrison/Small) in a new "quadrangle" for continued reading, learning and discourse among faculty, students and the community. It also serves as a wonderful gathering space for library staff.
Continued creation of new and refurbished reading rooms and study areas
The long-term plan for Alderman includes returning several formerly-grand, but now a bit worn, rooms to their original purpose as quiet reading rooms for study. Work on the historic McGregor room is underway and other spaces in Alderman and Clemons will follow. The new reading room of the Brown Science and Engineering Library, in one student’s words, "is the most popular place to study on Grounds." One engineering student even mourned the bad old days, "only because I had this place to myself."
2. Programs and exhibits that engage and inspire
CLIR Scholarly Communications Institute
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation invited us to plan (with the Council on Library and Information Resources, or CLIR) and host the second and third Scholarly Communication Institutes (SCI) here at the U.Va. Library. We were determined that U.Va. faculty and students should be involved with the Institute. With Mellon approval, we selected the field of Practical Ethics and invited teams from U.Va., Duke, Indiana, and Minnesota to come to Charlottesville for three days. The teams were made up of senior faculty, a junior faculty or graduate student, the librarian, and an institutional administrator who was in a position to allocate resources. The teams left the rich discussion resolved to pursue an experiment in a new model of scholarly communication. They have set about bringing together additional colleagues through the principle scholarly societies in ethics and have each begun modeling a component of what is proposed as a common information resource. Each ethics center will contribute their strengths and rely on the others to cover any weaknesses. One administrator, initially reluctant to participate, left the experience saying that "this was the most exhilarating experience I've had in my job."
SCI 3, in the summer of 2005, will focus on the thorny issues surrounding the sustaining of digital scholarship and building collaboration among authors, libraries, publishers, and information technologists.
Multiculturalism Committee Programs
The library staff has had an active Multicultural Issues Committee (MIC) for well over a decade. Their purpose is to increase diversity awareness in the Library and the University community. Recent events included a collaborative panel between the Library and the Law School on the 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education; a conversation with Dorothy Height, civil rights leader and author of Open Wide the Freedom Gates; a concert by blues artist Corey Harris, co-sponsored with the Black Student Leadership Institute; a reading by Martin Prechtel, Native American author; a discussion with Carlos Eire, author of Waiting for Snow in Havanna; and monthly staff "brown-bag luncheons" to discuss multicultural issues and readings. The programs are varied and very well attended. An MIC member serves on every search committee and makes sure that we are effective in building a diverse pool of applicants.
Exhibits of Library Collections
About a decade ago, we revamped our exhibit programming to appeal more broadly to students. Stealing an idea from the Met, we knew that we had to draw students in before we could educate them. Working with student interns, faculty and graduate student curators, and faculty advisors, the Library staff has produced more than 30 exhibits since 1995, and offered many of them online ( http://www.lib.virginia.edu/speccol/exhibits/) . Topics include censorship, gothic literature, Lewis and Clark, American theatre, the history of women at U.Va., and jazz. One of the most heavily trafficked areas of our web site, for example, is the 1995 "Psychedelic 60s: Literary Tradition and Social Change" exhibit ( http://www.lib.virginia.edu/speccol/exhibits/sixties/). The curators can come from anywhere in the Library.
IV U. Va. Mission:
. . . to record, preserve, and disseminate the results of intellectual discovery and creative endeavor
Use teams dedicated to building and improving a digitization workflow and metadata standards that can serve as models for other libraries
Build digital collections and preserve printed ones using a formal process and input from faculty, students, and staff across the University
Create a research and development unit (R&D) devoted to solving digital collection development and management issues, and share their work with other libraries and the world
Create and support international digital collection development efforts
1. Building workflow and metadata standards for digital production
Digital Library and Production Services
Digital Library Production Services (DLPS), created two years ago, is dedicated solely to digital production, with a goal of building and preserving a stable, sustainable digital collection in a cost-effective and efficient way. DLPS also decides when outsourcing digitization is better.
In this past year alone DLPS digitized 23,465 page images; 3,620 documentary images; 4,917
slides; and 542 aerial maps, using efficient workflows for text and slide processing. The staff also developed a process for Library selectors, working with faculty, to choose searchable digital texts in addition to traditional monographs and to set priorities for brittle books.
Metadata Steering Group
Library staff from multiple departments spent the last year reviewing existing metadata standards and industry best practices. Their charge was to approve and maintain metadata standards for the Library's digital initiatives and establish best practices for data content, as well as approve new local practices for the application of existing standards. They also engaged the perspectives of Library experts in the various international standards (TEI, MARC, VRA).
Today the group continues its work and is instrumental in ensuring the data integrity of digital collections.
2. Building digital collections and preserving printed ones
Rare Materials Digital Services
The Rare Materials Digital Services is charged with increasing the access and discovery of these rare materials to further research and instruction.
So far more than 30,000 images from Special Collections have been made available, along with several popular web-based collections that are heavily drawn upon by faculty (the Jefferson: http://www.lib.virginia.edu/small/collections/tj/, Holsinger: http://www.lib.virginia.edu/small/collections/holsinger/, and Jackson Davis collections: http://www.lib.virginia.edu/small/collections/jdavis/) both at U.Va. and beyond.
The staff have also created the U.Va. Online Visual History Database ( http://mcgregor.lib.virginia.edu/prints), a broad-scale effort to digitize and make available to the community images drawn from every school at the University. The department is collaborating with outreach, communications, and digital production staff from across the University and will establish the Library as the central driver for collecting, preserving, and disseminating digital images of high quality and scholarly usefulness.
Improving Special Collections Manuscript Processing
Large research libraries nationwide struggle with backlogs of unprocessed manuscript collections. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation gave the Library a grant to test a model for assessing the condition, housing, and intellectual access of our manuscript backlogs. With over 5,800 surveys completed to date, the project has identified processing priorities for our backlogs. We are confident that other research libraries will find this model helpful in tackling their unprocessed collections.
R&D to solve digital collection management challenges
As our digital collections grew we became acutely aware that we needed to find a better solution for managing our growing digital collections. After searching unsuccessfully for a vendor product, we made the commitment to design and develop a solution. Our exploration led us to work done by Cornell computer scientists on a digital library architecture called Fedora. We have formed a collaborative working relationship that led to a redesign of Fedora and development of an open source architecture product that is now being experimented with by vendors, researchers, and libraries across the globe. This work was made possible by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
In addition to U.Va., other institutions developing specialized applications using Fedora include Northwestern, Yale, Indiana, New York, and Tufts universities; the National Libraries of Portugal, Denmark and Australia; and the American Geophysical Union. The software has so far been downloaded by more than 360 organizations in 50 different countries.
3. Creating and supporting international digital collection development efforts
The Japanese Text Initiative
A collaborative effort with the University of Pittsburgh offers digital versions of classic Japanese texts from the eighth century to the present. The site offers simultaneous translations as well as the original Japanese.
Tibetan-Himalyan Digital Library
Building on faculty interest in using technology for research and its dissemination, as well as on the University’s goal of increasing international scholarship, the Library continues to collaborate with faculty from the Department of Religious Studies to create a model "information community." This concept is a subject-driven, collaborative web site built around print and digital versions of Library collections and the teaching interests of specific faculty.
The Tibetan and Himalyan Digital Library ( http://www.thdl.org) is a collaborative project that lets scholars from around the world access deep collections of texts, images, and maps, use innovative tools for exploring those collections, and share ideas for projects and new resources. It builds on the University’s strong programs in Tibetan studies, and lets the Library explore how we can best support faculty members’ interest in teaching and research using technology.
"The real heroes of the digital revolution in higher education are librarians; they are the people who have seen the farthest, done the most, accepted the hardest challenges, and demonstrated most clearly the benefits of digital information. In the process, they have turned their own field upside down and have revolutionized their own professional training. It is a testimony to their success that we take their achievement for granted."~ Edward L. Ayers (Dean of Arts & Sciences at U.Va.) and Charles M. Grisham (U.Va.). "Why IT has not paid off as we hoped (yet)." Educause Review. November/December 2003, p.43.
Library staff at every level and in every arena are committed to making a difference. The 2004 State of the Library provides ample evidence.
In the U.Va Library, the staff is one of our greatest assets, and we place a high value on recruitment and retention. We urge search committees to make a recommendation only if they are excited by the candidate. We provide ample opportunities for learning through our staff training program and this past year 97% of our staff participated.
Our Staff Share program was originally conceived as a way to provide library staff with opportunities to work in different areas and gain new skills. As a volunteer program the staff member must want to participate, and supervisors are encouraged to enable them to do so. It has been highly successful as a staff development program, and it has also helped us deal with unusual vacancies or one-time increases in workload. In our most recent budget crisis, we could not have maintained our level of services without these volunteers. The result was uninterrupted service and improved staff morale.
"I’ve been here 18 years and this was my first chance to meet the public. I not only got great training and new skills, I have new respect for the people who staff the desk!" ~ Staff member, Library Acquisitions
We recognize that jobs are often stressful in this rapidly changing environment. Each January, before classes start, we schedule Winter Carnival, a series of 45-minute classes taught by external experts who donate their time to the Library. Supervisors encourage staff to participate. Topics include landscaping, dog training (with a dog), yoga, cheese and wine pairings, using power tools, investment advice and digital photography. One of the most popular classes is our local "Antiques Road Show" sponsored by a Charlottesville auction house. Attendees tell us that Winter Carnival is rejuvenating, informative, entertaining and a good way to meet other staff members with common interests.
The library staff have and continue to advance the University’s mission on many levels. It is due to their expertise, dedication and innovation that the Library enjoys an extraordinarily good reputation. In the serious budget cuts of 2002-03, the faculty and students—unprompted by the Library—effectively lobbied for additional funding.
Even our student staff advance our mission. As they advance in their careers, they often help the library. Our President, John Casteen was a long-time student employee when he was an undergraduate and graduate student here.