Week in Review – 25 January 2013

Prudent Planning

As just about everyone knows, this is something of a budget “situation” in Washington these days. It has been several years since a budget has been passed by both houses of Congress which means the government has been authorized to spend money under continuing resolutions for quite a while. The current continuing resolution expires at the end of March. Added to the now normal drama of extending the continuing resolution is the issue of sequestration, or an automatic reduction in government spending set to occur at the beginning of March as a result of the debt limit and budget negotiations that have taken place over the past year. Sequestration, if enacted, will reduce government spending by about $12 billion per month, with half that amount coming from defense spending and the other half from domestic programs.

With these budgetary boogie-men on the horizon, the Department of Defense and the Army have begun a process to plan for what might be some disruptions in funding as a result sequestration and the continuing resolution. There is no guarantee that sequestration will happen, nor has any funding been cut so far from the existing authorization. But given the outlook ahead, it is prudent to do some planning and be smart about how we allocate funds.

The mission at West Point continues, and we remain committed to carrying forward to do the work necessary to graduate the Class of 2013, bring on board the Class of 2017, and maintain all mission-critical functions while doing everything possible to fully maintain and support the workforce required to do this work.

Prior to the current conversations about budget planning, the Library was already planning for a reduction of approximately $200,000 to our FY13 allocation. Last week’s Week in Review walked through some targeted reductions planned for that effort. We are continuing forward to execute that plan and believe that we can achieve our goal without any significant and irreversible impact on total amount of material available, though access may not be quite as convenient in some ways as before.

Should sequestration occur, we will expect to see deeper cuts to our materials budget, though exactly how deep we don’t know. Such cuts would have significant impact on support to the curriculum, though the library is far from the only area that would see significant reductions. Since any funding disruptions, should they happen, may very well be quite short and temporary in nature, we are fortunate that electronic resources are easily turned off and back on again, with no lasting damage to the overall collection. We are working to ensure that any decisions with regard to resources are easily reversible.

Outside of library resources, there are a few other areas where we’ll feel some evidence of the budget uncertainty:

  • We will not be making any job offers until the budget situation has stabilized. We are continuing to push forward all of our hiring actions as far as we can. That hasn’t been easy to do lately, but we’ll keep at it.
  • Funding for our compact shelving in Bartlett Hall is back on hold. We are also continuing forward with the contracting process up to the point of award so that once funds are stabilized the contract can be executed.
  • We are focusing our supply and monograph purchasing on essential/emergency items only.
  • Travel and training dollars are on hold. We anticipate that some ability to use gift funds for travel and training may open up in the near future.

While the budget uncertainties we are facing right now are far from enjoyable, the Army and the U.S. Military Academy have both weathered plenty of storms in the past. Sequestration is a somewhat different challenge than we have seen in the past, but we will find our way through these bumps. Such events provide us good opportunity to think critically and creatively about how we deliver the service we provide. We will look to maximize the benefit of those conversations and thought.

As the picture clarifies (or unclarifies as the case may be), we’ll try to keep everyone updated on where we are. I will say directly that situations like this cause rumor mills to go into overdrive, generally to little benefit and often to much harm. If you have questions, do not hesitate to ask. Please do not just participate in perpetuating hearsay that may not have any basis in truth. The honest answer to many questions may be that we do not yet know. I can say there is a strong commitment to preserve and protect both the mission of the U.S. Military Academy as well as the skilled and talented workforce that provides the education we deliver throughout the organization. Thank you for your individual and collection contributions to that mission.

USMA Library Events

The events below will likely affect USMA Library and Jefferson Hall operations in the coming week.

Date USMA O/DEAN USMA Library Jefferson Hall Hours
  25 Jan 2013
500th Night Weekend  Week in Review 0700-2100
  26 Jan 2013
Debate Tournament 0700-2100
  27 Jan 2013
28 Jan 2013
Opera Forum 0700-2245
29 Jan 2013
 Division Heads 0700-2245
30 Jan 2013
Pres. Roosevelt Wreath-Laying  Dean’s
31 Jan 2013
Post Night 0700-2245
  1 Feb 2013
 Week in Review 0700-2245

USMA Library Metrics

USMA Library tracks a number of key statistics to measure service levels. These are their stories …

December January
17-23 24-30 31-6 7-13 14-20 21-27 28-3
Access Services
Items Charged Out 224 41 331 526  542
Gate Count 9,902 N/A 9,406 5,815  5,294
Administrative Services
DV Tours 0 0 1 0  0
Significant Events Hosted 0 0 0 1  1
Events/Meetings Attended 14 0 1 18  14
Information Gateway
Reference Questions 4 0 10 21  16
Library Instruction Sessions 0 0 0 2  4
Cadets Attending Sessions 0 0 0 47  194
Materials Processing
Items Added – Books 409 180  393
Items Added – Digital 0 805  0
Items Added – GovDocs 0 71  0
Items Added – Other 183 5  249
Continuing Resource Check-Ins 480 116  104
Special Collections & Archives
Reference Inquiries 14 10 16 33  53
Research Visits < 1 hour 0 0 3 3  12
Research Visits < 1 day 0 0 0 0  2
Research Visits > 1 day 0 0 0 0  1
Instruction Sessions 0 0 1 0  0
Cadets Taught 0 0 4 0  0
Systems Management
Library Home Page Visits 854 1,598  1,742
LibGuides Visits 182 456  649
Digital Collections Visits 121 114  106
Facebook Visits 5 18  100
Public Printer Prints 15,810 70,368  15,285
Public Printer Copies 1,274 1,161  824
Public Printer Scans 510 175  135

USMA Library Radar

Brief status updates on current and planned library initiatives.

20130125 Radar

Food for Thought

A few quotations from the past week about libraries, information, technology, and the future.

  • “Maybe books won’t survive the transition to digital devices, any more than scrolls survived the transition to movable type… what the internet portends is not the end of the paper container of the book, but rather the way paper organized our assumptions about writing altogether.” Clay Shirky | Is the book a crucial cultural artifact, or just an outdated container for content?
    “Books used to die by being ignored, but now they can be killed — and perhaps unjustly killed,” said Trevor Pinch, a Cornell sociologist who has studied Amazon reviews. “In theory, a very good book could be killed by a group of people for malicious reasons.” – A Casualty on the Battlefield of Amazon’s Partisan Book Reviews – NYTimes.com
  • “Asked for their thoughts on which services libraries should offer to the public, majorities of Americans are strongly in favor of: 1) Coordinating more closely with local schools: 85% of Americans ages 16 and old say libraries should “definitely” do this; 2) Offering free literacy programs to help young children: 82% of Americans ages 16 and old say libraries should “definitely do” this; 3) Having more comfortable spaces for reading, working, and relaxing: 59% of Americans ages 16 and old say libraries should “definitely do” this; 4) Offering a broader selection of e-books: 53% of Americans ages 16 and old say libraries should “definitely do” this. These services were also most popular with the library staff members in our online panel, many of whom said that their library had either already implemented them or should “definitely” implement them in the future. At the same time, people have different views about whether libraries should move some printed books and stacks out of public locations to free up space for tech centers, reading rooms, meeting rooms, and cultural events: 20% of Americans ages 16 and older said libraries should “definitely” make those changes; 39% said libraries “maybe” should do that; and 36% said libraries should “definitely not” change by moving books out of public spaces.” – Library Services in the Digital Age | Pew Internet Libraries
  • “Let the legal analysis follow the pedagogy. Or, to put it another way, fair use follows mission. One of the great advantages of being involved with MOOCs is that they open a space where reevaluation of mission and what is really important to an institution is unavoidable. And in that space we are offered a new/old way to think about copyright, teaching, and fair use.” – Making MOOCs Easier | Peer to Peer Review
  • “The 44th President and 113th Congress on Twitter On Monday (Jan. 21), Barack Obama will be publicly sworn in as President. While buzz about the Inauguration builds on Twitter, the legislative branch has some news of their own: as of today, all 100 members of the Senate as well as 90% (398 members) of the House of Representatives are on Twitter.” – Twitter Blog: 100 Senators and the 57th Inauguration