2CUL Progress Report: October 2009 - September 2010

December 7, 2010

The summary below highlights the accomplishments and progress made by the libraries at Cornell and Columbia in the first year of planning for 2CUL, a project supported by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (http://www.2cul.org).  The 2CUL steering committee has worked in close consultation with the project facilitators, Ithaka S+R.  The working groups (http://2cul.org/about/teams) include many staff members from both libraries.

Goals for improving collections and services, and generating cost savings

  • Improve the quality of collections, services, and expertise available to key constituencies.
  • Achieve 15% cost savings or cost avoidance, and redirect those savings toward joint investments in critical areas and emerging priorities.
  • Lay the foundation for a permanent selective integration between the two libraries.

Our progress in the first year of the grant:

  • On July 1st, the two libraries began sharing one selector for Slavic and Eastern European Studies. Columbia’s Slavic Studies selector, Rob Davis, now provides research support and collection development services, manages library purchases, monitors gift offers, and provides statistics on collections access and usage for both Cornell and Columbia. The shared staffing model is organized through a cost transfer agreement between the two institutions. It is designed to result in cost savings for both schools, at the same time creating a deeper shared collection with fewer unnecessary duplicate purchases.
  • A draft agreement for collaborative support for Southeast Asian Studies is currently under review.  A final agreement and cost model is anticipated in early Spring 2011 with the Cornell subject specialist providing research support and collection development services for both Cornell and Columbia.
  • The South Asian Studies librarians at Cornell and Columbia have been working closely to coordinate their collecting profiles. Within one important purchasing program, they have already divided collecting responsibilities to maximize breadth and reduce unnecessary duplication between the two libraries.
  • The next collecting area that is being investigated for collaborative development is Latin American Studies. Columbia is in the process of hiring a Latin American Studies subject librarian, and Cornell will participate in the candidate review process.  The process for analyzing research support and collection development needs at both institutions began in October with an agreement anticipated in late Spring 2011.
  • Cornell selectors and Columbia IT staff are exploring sharing a joint web archiving service that Columbia is currently providing with grant funding.   The exploration is to determine the potential staffing and infrastructure cost savings of a joint web arching program.
  • Another working group has been investigating the potential to jointly negotiate e-resource licenses in order to provide access to a wider range of content at a lower price than the institutions would pay individually. This work has already resulted in a successful negotiation for access to a newspaper database.
  • Overall, the 2CUL steering committee plans to redirect cost savings generated from collaborative collection development arrangements (i.e., reducing duplication wherever possible and appropriate) to the purchase of additional materials that neither institution could afford to purchase on its own.  A working group is building parameters for measuring the size and depth of the two collections and conducting collection use analyses, in order to better understand the implications of deduplicating prospective materials purchases and setting firmer goals for coordinated collection development.
  • The two libraries have very different budget models. A working group established a comparable budget baseline for measuring cost savings/avoidance, and this will ensure clear targets for future 2CUL budget planning and joint investment.

Goals for integrating library operations and co-investments

  • Achieve 30% integration or common approach of operations, services, collections, and resources within three years, and establish a fiscal and governance framework for managing initial integration.
  • Co-invest in critical under-supported areas and innovative and emerging services.
  • Collaborate in the pursuit of generating new resources.

Our progress in the first year of the grant:

  • Cornell is now cataloging Turkish-language materials for Columbia.  Aside from providing backlog relief for Columbia, this valuable experiment will help library staff understand the challenges of integrating cataloging and other back-end processes on a larger scale.
  • The two libraries are co-developing a pre-order online form (POOF) tool in order to facilitate much of the labor-intensive process involved in placing monographic firm orders; the development is expected to be completed by the end of January 2011.
  • Working groups from both institutions have shared valuable information on the opportunities to operate a shared Library Management System. The two libraries have been meeting with vendors and investigating options, and are working to influence marketplace development. By the end of 2011, 2CUL plans to issue a joint RFP for a shared system.
  • A working group produced a white paper attempting to forecast the state of technical services in 2015, covering functions such as acquisitions, processing, cataloging, and metadata services. The white paper proved useful to the 2CUL steering committee while planning further integration.  A second working group was tasked with creating a similar forecast for the future of resource sharing and access, including inter-library loan and document delivery; that report will influence multiple aspects of the 2CUL collaboration. These white papers will be shared with the broader professional community.
  • IT staff from the two libraries have investigated opportunities in several areas, such as the creation of a joint dark preservation archive, collaboration on web archiving, and data management support (to help researchers comply with the new data management guidelines issued by the National Science Foundation). Through these early explorations they gained valuable insights into the benefits of sharing planning information and assumptions and at the same time identified some of the challenges in planning and carrying out joint infrastructure development within the delimited timeframe of a two-year grant.  While no specific areas for co-development were identified during this phase, new opportunities for infrastructure sharing and cooperation will continue to be explored, and regular information exchange will continue.
  • A joint 2CUL team has been charged with assessing how the LOCKSS Preservation strategy is being used in the two libraries. The December 2010 deliverable will be a brief report addressing the issues outlined in the charge.
  • Steering Committee discussions uncovered a joint area of concern relating to the need for a registry of e-journal archiving services that would inform local preservation decisions. Following a scan of activity in this area 2CUL made contact with PEPRS, a JISC-funded project aiming to address these issues. 2CUL is offering to develop US-focused use cases and to test out the development database.
  • 2CUL received two grants totaling $30,000 from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation and the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to study library support for humanities PhD students (http://2cul.org/activities/intervention). The project will inform the libraries’ strategies for addressing higher attrition and lower completion rates for humanities doctoral students as compared to those in the sciences, social sciences, and engineering. An additional joint grant proposal for special collections cataloging has been submitted to CLIR.
  • 2CUL has launched discussions in other areas, such as joint e-resource management, procurement, and processing of print materials from China, ways to generate new resources through joint fundraising, offering cataloging services to other institutions, and establishing a copyright consultancy service for libraries, drawing on the expertise of current staff at both libraries.

Goals for communication and spurring change in the broader library community.

  • Build understanding and support for the 2CUL collaboration among stakeholders.
  • Share experiences and findings from this initiative with the broader higher education and library communities.
  • Provide a blueprint or example for other such collaborations.

Our progress in the first year of the grant:

  • The 2CUL groups have conducted extensive outreach with stakeholders, particularly faculty. The University Librarians have worked to keep deans, administrators, and faculty informed about the collaboration, and library staff received regular updates on 2CUL through staff meetings, staff intranet communications, and other channels.
  • The steering committee continues to share early results from 2CUL with the broader library community through presentations, conference discussions, and professional publications. It has also built awareness of the collaboration outside the United States through presentations in Ireland, China, and Sweden.
  • Higher education news sources published stories on 2CUL, including  the Chronicle of Higher Education and Library Journal.Campus media at both universities have reported on 2CUL as well.