Commission on the Future of the Library issues its report

The Commission on the Future of the UC Berkeley Library, charged with studying the current state of the library and envisioning its future, issued its report today (Wednesday, Oct. 16).

The report can be viewed here, along with the Commission’s original charge letter.

In response to publication of the report, University Librarian Tom Leonard said this:

“We need to ask new questions about everything that contributes to Berkeley’s excellence, and we are fortunate to have the Commission lay out the challenges for the Library. Not only did the faculty members work hard, for a year — most of them have been serving the Library in other ways for a much longer time. This is what it takes to steer the right course when changes come so rapidly in how we find and use information.

“The Library’s strategic plan will be improved by what the Commission found. Indeed, we have been innovating to meet the needs the Commission brought to light these past months.

“For the Fall Semester:

  • Scanning in the libraries is now free and making paper copies far easier than last year.
  • Books that have been checked out can be returned to any library.
  • A suite of powerful computers is now at the Moffitt entrance, flanked by a lounge to sit down with new books.
  • Shelving has been improved and expanded in Main Stacks, in the spirit of our “stacks Olympics” this year.
  • The Berkeley Library has become a national role model in offering access to our collections to students with print disabilities.

“On the horizon we will:

  • Loan laptops to students.
  • Make the online library experience as welcoming as our physical facilities.
  • Make paging books from other campus libraries as easy for students as the BAKER service is today for faculty.
  • Simplify course reserves and enhance student access
  • Create more collaborative space for programs in the humanities and the sciences.
  • Expand library hours keyed to the needs of undergraduates.
  • Take even greater advantage of digitization as a way to share collections that once were exclusively paper.
  • Increase the opportunities in libraries to learn about using Big Data across all academic fields.

“Everyone on campus who has stepped through the doors of the new Engineering Library and Bancroft’s Magnes Museum on Jewish Art & Life, knows that the Library has not stopped innovating in tough economic times.

“As the Commission points out, we have done this at a time when we could not renew our intellectual capital. But we can do more today. We have new senior managers in a reorganization that will make it possible for our academic experts to do what they do best. In the past year, we have filled key positions ranging from Slavic and Japanese to Geospacial Information and Political Science. Generous donors have allowed us to add treasures, ranging from a rare collection on the birth of documentary photography to Bach chorales in manuscript.

“With renewed support, and the excellent advice in the Commission report, the Library is poised to accomplish much more. No one has done a better job of laying this out and finding a way forward than the Commission members, aided by many campus voices (including those of librarians).”