January 2015

CIC Library Directors Fall Meeting

Faithful readers will recall that I reported on the fall meeting of ARL directors in the November Library Office Notes. By all accounts, you all found that report scintillating, so I figured a similar report on the meeting of the CIC library directors would be appreciated.

In these consortia and multi-institutional organizations, we’re seeing a stronger disposition to find areas of common interest and ways to collaborate more deeply. During the November CIC directors meeting, our agenda was packed. Now, I don’t mind saying that my experience with these is that each meeting has a dozen topics and we all wander aimlessly, espousing important positions and ensuring that our colleagues at other CIC libraries know we’re important. Having assumed responsibility for chairing the group, I wanted to minimize my level of psychic pain by having a clearer agenda and more clearly expected outcomes. Most of the first day was devoted to items with formal proposals and, for the first time in anyone’s memory, most of these were items for which a vote was needed. My pain was diminished.

To help give some sense of the tenor of the meeting, I’ll recap a few of the items.

  • The directors agreed unanimously to gradually increase our CIC dues. By comparison to other CIC programs, the libraries contribute proportionately less. We all agreed that the CIC is an important platform for our work, and that made the vote easy.
  • For several years now, our libraries have been contributing to a shared fund for “Large-Scale Investments” in collections. This effort has been tremendously successful and the savings have been real and appreciable. We agreed to increase the level of commitment for the central fund portion of this shared purchasing program.
  • Another exemplar for collaboration is the Shared Print Repository (SPR). While we all agreed that it has been very successful, when we established the SPR, we also agreed that we would review the effort before renewing our commitments; therefore we put together a small review team and Tom Teper will participate as a representative Collection Development Officer (CDO).

Much of the meeting was focused on shared work and shared resources rather than simply common interests, and this is a sign of the times. For example, a proposed Geospatial Data Discovery Project was looking for three or four partner institutions, and every one of our libraries expressed interest in participating. We also revisited the topic of a possible shared data repository, though there was little in the way of a specific outcome. Not all of the conversations focused on shared capabilities, of course, and it’s worth noting in closing that another trending topic made its way onto the agenda: we talked about open textbooks and sent the provosts a formal statement of support (with language that suggests a strong role for libraries) for open textbooks and Open Educational Resources (OER). While it’s safe to say that, as directors, we see shared investment and infrastructure as one clear strategy for increasing impact and viability, another focus continues to be creating alternative ecosystems like OER.

John Wilkin
The Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Dean of Libraries and University Librarian