Sunday, July 10, 2005

Bye-bye Wasserman

The university administration continues to move agressively to close the Paul Wasserman Library. Below is the text of the latest memo.


Subject:
Wasserman Announcement
From:
Charles Lowry
Date:
Thu, 07 Jul 2005 16:59:17 -0400
To:
UM LIBRARY STAFF

All,

I am pleased to provide this initial information for CLIS and Libraries faculty and staff concerning the transfer of services and responsibilities for the Wasserman Library to the Administration of the Dean of Libraries. This is a joing announcement that is concurrently being made in CLIS. It has been arrived at after discussions between myself, Dean Preece, and the Provost. Dean Preece has consulted with her facult and staff and I with the LEC.

The first consideration of this change occurred over a year ago with a report from a committee appointed by Dean Dearstyne that recommended administrative relocation. More recently, discussions between Deans Preece and Lowry and Provost Destler have focused on achieving additional goals of centralizing library resources to provide improved services and releasing space in CLIS for research and student projects.

There are many details to be worked out in order to continue providing robust library information services to CLIS faculty and students. This will remain the primary goal of the planning and implementation process. What follows is not a plan, but the outline of the basic framework within which the planning groups will work. The key points are as follows:

* A planning group, comprising CLIS and Libraries faculty and staff,
will be put together to work out the details of the transfer of
collections from their present location in Hornbake to McKeldin
Library. Karen Patterson and Tim Hackman will be members of the
planning group and will work throughout the planning process with
Dean Preece and the CLIS faculty to be certain that the planning
process has optimal results for CLIS faculty and students.
Coincidentally, work is already underway to measure shelf
availability in McKeldin Library and this will support the work of
the planning group, which will be appointed and charged in August.
* These general guidelines will be used in planning for the merger
of collections
o Until planning is completed we will not know precisely when
the collection merger will occur. Given the challenges of
moving a collection that is equal to a full year's growth in
McKeldin’s holdings, the planning group will have to work on
at least two potential dates when such a move may
occur-January or June 2006. However, the target date will be
January.
o Some weeding of duplicates will take place.
o Some materials will be put in off-site shelving where they
are retrievable on a 48 hour basis.
o A few materials may be kept in CLIS for purposes of instruction.
o Most of the Wasserman collection should go to McKeldin and
will be interfiled based on the LC classification scheme.
o The Children’s collection may be kept in the Dewey Decimal
Classification as a separate collection in McKeldin.
o Collection development resources provided by CLIS and UML
will be combined and over time the acquisition funds
supporting CLIS programs will grow with the aim of providing
better service to CLIS.
o The one-time cost of the move will be provided the Provost.
o There will be some funds for refurbishment in CLIS.
* Karen Patterson and Tim Hackman will be transferred to the Library
Faculty, where they will benefit from the Libraries promotion and
permanent status system. Both will remain physically located in
the Wasserman Library until the collections are merged.
* Karen's position will be assigned to the Libraries Social Sciences
Team for the specific support of CLIS students and faculty. Some
collaborative work has already occurred between Wasserman and the
Social Sciences Team. During the transition of collections and
services, Karen's time will be devoted solely to the UML support
mission for CLIS and general CLIS support.
* Tim’s assignment is not yet settled. His work responsibilities may
be distributed in several Public Services units that can provide
support to CLIS until a permanent assignment is identified. Once
Tim has a permanent assignment, his current position will be
reallocated for a different function within CLIS.


Throughout this process the aim will be to provide improved library support to CLIS by keeping the collection more up to date. Those functions which don’t transfer to McKeldin, such as overseeing technical support in classrooms, will be supported in other ways within CLIS (e.g., by newly appointed technical support staff).

In this initial memo we have focused on issues of concern to both CLIS and Library faculty and staff. Separate discussions will also be needed for each group as we move forward with the planning process.

Charles

14 Comments:

Blogger surly student said...

As a curent CLIS student I find it sad and ironic that the place where I have come to be trained as an information professional finds its own library of such little value that it is shutting it down.

Besides the fact that closing the library will remove one of the most valuable resources available to CLIS students,
this act is especially offensive because it is a blow to our profession from the very people who are supposed to be championing it.

Wasserman library is a hub of learning, sharing and community building in our college...it is THE heart of CLIS. By closing it(without regards for the opinions of any of the other members of this learning community) the the administration is making a clear statement about how they feel about the students and faculty of CLIS.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Dear Surly Student,

I couldn't agree more!

Thanks for writing!!

2:36 PM  
Blogger Katy Newton Lawley said...

I'm a doctoral student and Master's alum of CLIS. My stomach literally turned when I heard this news, which is a blow to my personal, everyday routine as well as to my conceptualization of CLIS as a community with open communication and mutual respect throughout the organization.

Since Dean Preece (and before her, Acting Dean Dearstyne) failed to initiate dialog with the student body, I must assume that she went into meetings with the Provost unwilling and/or unprepared to fight on our behalf for Wasserman. This troubles me. Deeply.

I am also insulted by the perky tone of Dean Lowry's memo. This is not a process that should be described with any corporatespeak euphemisms. It is a solemn occasion, which will disrupt (1) the personal and professional lives of Karen and Tim, (2) the research habits of students and staff and faculty, (3) social and collaborative chance meetings among students, and (4) the marketability of CLIS to prospective students. I could go on about each of these at length, but those who use and appreciate Wasserman know, I think, what I'm talking about.

Karen and Tim and the GAs have always done such a great job providing friendly, professional, and specialized services in a convenient and comfortable environment. I beg CLIS not to push them out, although my pleas feel useless and muffled, since the decision has already been made.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Dear Katy,

Thanks for writing. Please encourage others to post their opinions, whatever their take on these issues. CLIS is failing itself and its students by not building a learning space that can support hones intellectual debate about its own mission and vision.

Pass it on!

4:24 PM  
Blogger EmilyBee said...

What amazes me is the total lack of regard for the student our officials are displaying. They didn't consult us, they didn't explain whatever the problem with having Wasserman is so we could help work on it, and they didn't even tell us it was happening- we had to find out through the grapevine. It disgusts me. As others have pointed out, the message is clear: the student is our university's last priority.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Dear Emily,

Yeah, it's pretty amazing to me the secrecy about it all. It suggests, though does not necessitate, the lack of clarity among those making the decision.

Spread the word, let's keep the dialogue going.

More later!

10:14 PM  
Blogger Kara Reuter said...

Like Katy, I earned my MLS at CLIS and am a current doctoral student.

While I appreciate the pressures that CLIS (continually) faces and I can imagine the benefits of the decision to close and move Wasserman, at the moment it is difficult to see past the numerous losses. Like many others, I am troubled to have learned of this decision through the grapevine. I would have expected a change of this magnitude would have been carefully and thoughtfully communicated to the CLIS community as a whole.

If closing Wasserman is indeed an inevitability at this point, I hope we can work together first to support our valued colleagues and mentors, Karen and Tim, and also to set expectations to ensure continuity of all the wonderful services we have enjoyed.

8:58 AM  
Blogger Sheri said...

As a former MLS student and current PhD student at CLIS, I am more than a little upset about this situation.

We have questions:

Why weren’t the students involved in discussions surrounding the fate of Wasserman? Isn’t that why we have student collegium representatives?

Why hasn’t the administration responded (officially or otherwise) to students’ concerns now that the news is out?

Will there be a new space for student interaction/networking/community building? The lounge as it exists is not sufficient.

Will services provided by Wasserman staff be continued? If so, to what extent? Will Karen’s new position at McKeldin as the CLIS representative include other non-CLIS related duties “as assigned”?

What is the new space created in place of Wasserman to be used for? Computer science or library science research? This question is directly related to how the administration/leaders in the college envision the future of CLIS (and maybe library schools in general). Is this indicative of the “you can get everything online” or the “do you really need a masters degree for that” mentality? What is the slated direction for CLIS?

Where are the answers?

2:51 PM  
Blogger Sheri said...

As a former CLIS MLS student and current PhD student here, I am more than a little upset about this situation.

We have questions:

Why weren’t the students involved in discussions surrounding the fate of Wasserman? Isn’t that why we have student collegium representatives?

Why hasn’t the administration responded (officially or otherwise) to students’ concerns now that the news is out?

Will there be a new space for student interaction/networking/community building? The lounge as it exists is not sufficient.

Will services provided by Wasserman staff be continued? If so, to what extent? Will Karen’s new position at McKeldin as the CLIS representative include other non-CLIS related duties “as assigned”?

What is the new space created in place of Wasserman to be used for? Computer science or library science research? This question is directly related to how the administration/leaders in the college envision the future of CLIS (and maybe library schools in general). Is this indicative of the “you can get everything online” or the “do you really need a masters degree for that” mentality? What is the slated direction for CLIS?

Where are the answers?

2:52 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Dear Kara,

Thanks for writing, first. I think that we're getting a range of people and a range of details here, so keep it comin'.

As aside, I keep hearing the word "inevitable" or some form of it. I wonder how set in stone it really is, if you look at the language of the memo. The word "planning" keeps coming up. Sounds curious to me.

Keep making those great points!

2:52 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Dear Sheri,

Yes! I think the opportunities for improved team/trust building and creative problem solving are myriad in this recent Wasserman flap. We learn about management techniques and this is clearly a model to avoid.

Best,
Kevin

2:54 PM  
Blogger Malissa Ruffner said...

I, too, am a recent CLIS graduate (2002), returning as a doctoral student next month. My very first reaction to the news that the Paul Wasserman Library is closing was very physical and very personal; to be blunt, my stomach dropped to the floor.

What in the world will it be like to be a student at CLIS again without the library? Well, sure, at least I’ve finished my 670 homework for Dr. Soergel, but wasn’t I supposed to focus on research for the next five years?

I love McKeldin and the coffee shop (it really is there!), rubbing Testudo’s head on the way through the door and seeing the masses, but I don’t love to settle in and READ there. I don’t BROWSE there with a sense of possibility. I walk over there with my pockets crammed with necessities so I don’t have to carry anything around. Unless it’s less than 30 degrees, my coat stays somewhere else. I plan my trip with a map in hand like I’m crossing the country – just to keep my stairway use at peak efficiency. And I don’t see anyone I know.

But it is not effective or smart to resist a new idea merely because it makes your stomach drop to the floor. That’s why we learned about evidence-based decision-making at CLIS. That’s why there’s a great course on planning and evaluating library services. And besides that, we were indoctrinated, sometimes against our will, in collaborative decision-making. [Weren’t we told “group work will prepare you for the real world?”]?

It’s hard to imagine a more poorly communicated decision; announcing a foregone conclusion like this one in a nest of library nuts (and I say that in the most affectionate way) requires a certain sensibility. I fear that the lack of sensibility reflects the decision-making process itself. But we just don’t know.

I think we can all agree that it makes sense to examine the role and function of a library that was designed and built in a different information era. This is a rare opportunity to model the kind of process to which all information professionals must aspire, and in fact, what CLIS prepares us to do. I just hope it is not too late to reach a decision that is both sound on all critical levels and respected by those who are affected.

8:16 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Dear Malissa,

Wow. Well written letter. There's so much to take in here.....

Thanks for writing. Speak up and out often!

10:31 PM  
Blogger Mara Hemminger said...

I find this development "unsettling," to say the least. I
have sent a personal note to Dean Preece, asking her to
explain to the larger community of students and alumni why
this decision was made. I`m sure she has good reasons for
this, and I would like to hear them. However, this feels
very sudden, and without notice to those affected (namely
current students). As a very recent CLIS alum, I was quite
serious about making a contribution to CLIS next year. The
secrecy and seriousness of the decision to close Wasserman,
however, is definitively changing my mind about that gift-
giving thought.

I do not know if other alums feel the same way, but if you
do, you should make your views known, and soon. If we speak
up now, perhaps a better solution can be reached, or a solid
explanation given. If we remain silent, then we allow a
wonderful resource to fall to the budgetary guillotine.
Silence and complacency never reversed any decisions in this
world; they only allowed the status quo to continue,
regardless of how good or bad that might be.

11:02 PM  

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