You are a team of consultants made up of librarians and information technologists. You have been called to one of the following institutions to make an assessment of the situation and propose a course of action that will lead to improved services to users and advance an agenda of collaborative efforts for the library and computing center.
1. The College of the Plains
2. Everglades University
3. Cactus State University
4. Stony Ridge University
5. Winter College
6. Sunshine State University
Case Study Analysis: Collaboration
Case Study Analysis: Partnership Assessment
Case Study Analysis: Opportunity Assessment
This small private liberal arts college is located in the Midwest. There are 1,700 undergraduate students and no graduate programs. There are 130 faculty. The College has an endowment of $75 million, which means that most operating expenses must come from tuition. The library has 300,000 volumes, 1,350 serial subscriptions, and a budget of $1.9 million. There is a staff of 23, including seven librarians. The library reports to the Provost, who reports to the President. The IT division is divided into academic and administrative computing and reports to the Vice President for Information Technology, who reports to the President. They have a budget of 1.7 million dollars and a staff of 25.
At the College of the Plains information technology was adopted later than it was at large research institutions. In the late 1980s the Vice President of Information Technology was hired and established a campus-wide network and drew the two computing centers into one in a newly created office on the library’s lower floor. All campus computing equipment is purchased through the IT division. The Vice President for Information Technology is an aggressive individual who makes things happen and is seen on campus as an empire builder.
A series of individuals have held the position of Library Director over the last eight years, including one year in which the Vice President for Information Technology and the Academic Dean jointly ran the library. The library purchased a turnkey library system in the early 1990s, and added a number of CD ROM databases after that. The computing center runs the library system with a part-time library Systems Manager who is on the IT staff. The responsibility for AV has been moved from the library to IT in a move to consolidate technical positions under IT.
A new Library Director has been hired, who has a good understanding of technology. Grant money has been secured by the Academic Dean and the Vice President for IT to establish a CWIS and to conduct training sessions for faculty in the use of information technology in the classroom. The librarians have been invited to join this process as instructors and to help develop the CWIS. The President, who believes technology is important to the future of the college, has appointed a task force made up of staff from IT, the library, and teaching faculty to develop a mission and goals for IT and the College.
Located in the Southeast, this medium-sized, private university has 10,000 students, almost half of whom are graduate students. Ph.Ds are offered in 70 fields, and there are 750 faculty. The library budget is $8 million, the collection consists of 2 million volumes, and there are 156 employees. The information technology division has 90 employees and a budget of $8.9 million. Both the library and information technology report to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
As a science-oriented institution, the University was an early adopter of technology. Because of the large number of grant-funded projects it has been able to attract over the years, and through several key partnerships with computing vendors during the 1980s, the University was able to develop and maintain state-of-the-art computing resources. Although records management and administration are handled centrally, academic computing has moved to a decentralized model. The information technology division recognized early that there would be a growing need for connectivity to support this approach. They lobbied for and received funding for a high-speed, campus-wide network which was first installed in the early 1980s and upgraded in 1990.
The University subsidized librarian-mediated online searching first to faculty and graduate students, and then to undergraduates in the late 1970s when the first major science databases became available. By the mid-1980s, the library was mounting the most heavily used databases and providing end user training. All library staff have personal computers on their desks with Internet and email access.
An early alliance developed between the library and information technology professionals when they collaborated to build an OPAC in the mid-1970s. They have worked together over time on projects to enhance the system and keep it up-to-date. Under this care and attention, it has evolved into an integrated library system (ILS). There is a joint planning committee made up of representatives of the two units that looks at strategic information resources and technology issues. Their current projects include the ongoing development and enhancement of the CWIS they brought up last year, the linking of their library’s OPAC with a federation of other science and technology research libraries using the Z39.50 protocol, and the application of hypertext and multimedia to the visualization and retrieval of scientific and engineering information.
Court decisions and changes in federal agency regulations regarding the percentage of grant funds that can be charged to indirect cost overhead have reduced funding to support the ongoing development of computing and information resources. In addition, declining profits in the computing industry have reduced the availability of corporate funding for the information technology division. The total information technology budget–base budget plus external funding–has shrunk by more than 25 percent over the past four years. More and more, the University is being forced to make choices on what systems to support and what new initiatives to engage. At the same time, student and faculty expectations for locally-available, leading edge technology remain extremely high.
A medium-sized public institution located in the Southwest, this university has a history as an agricultural school, but a current emphasis on undergraduate education. Of the mostly local 20,000 students, only 2,000 are graduate students. There are 1,200 faculty and 70 fields in which Ph.Ds are offered. The library spent $11 million last year, maintains a collection of 1.7 million volumes, and has a staff of 275. Administrative and academic computing are loosely-coupled organizations; both report to an Assistant Vice President for Information Technology, as does telephone services. Together, administrative and academic computing have 96 employees and a budget of $9.2 million. The library reports to the Provost, and the IT division reports to the Vice President for Administration; both of these individuals report to the President.
The University was not an early adopter of computer technology. Its first major computing expenditures were made for DEC minicomputers in the early 1980s. The University continued to upgrade its computing equipment throughout the 1980s and now operates a multi-node cluster of DEC computers and a sizable DECnet campus-wide network. To date, the majority of computing equipment and staff time has been allocated for administrative computing, especially in the student services areas. In almost all areas the emphasis has been on purchasing turnkey systems and implementing them with a minimum of local modifications.
In the library, operations were automated as modules became commercially available. At the present time, circulation acquisitions, serial records, and administrative services each have adequate, but independent systems. The library brought up a turnkey OPAC in the late 1980s with one-time monies. Online search services are available on an appointment basis. The library has purchased all the major CD ROM products currently on the market. All librarians have access to a personal computer.
The IT organization and library are on cordial terms, but there hasn’t been much contact between the two units over the years, beyond negotiations to install and maintain the various library automation systems at the data center. There have been some informal discussions between staff about establishing a join task force on electronic information, but nothing has happened so far.
There is a new University President who has arrived with her own vision of modern undergraduate education, one that focuses on information technology and the importance of electronic information to personal empowerment and lifelong learning. She sees this shift as essential for preparing citizens of the state for the employment world of tomorrow, for keeping enrollment up, and for drawing students from other states. While there is not a lot of local or state money for these initiatives at the present time, she is willing to focus some of the University’s limited discretionary funds toward this goal, and is encouraging faculty and administrators to position the University for federal and corporate funding that may be made available around the National Information Infrastructure (NII) initiatives.
As a small institution located in the Northeast, this private university has 6,000 students, including 1,000 graduate students. Ph.Ds are awarded in 25 disciplines, and there are 650 faculty. The library has a $10 million budget, a collection of 2 million volumes, and a staff of 205. The information technology division has 105 employees and a budget of $11 million. The library reports to the Provost, who reports to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Information technology reports directly to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
With a world renowned reputation in the humanities and social sciences, this institution has traditionally offered its students and faculty an intimate and personalized educational experience. There has always been strong, visionary leadership regarding information technology. A culture that encompasses universal access, partnerships, and “content over conduit” has led to a wide range of technological innovations in both administrative and academic computing. The information technology division actively seeks partnerships to support planning and implementation of new systems and, in almost a clearinghouse capacity, serves to link existing and emerging programs.
The library has had an integrated library system since the mid 1980s, a development project supported by the information technology division. The bibliographic databases most needed by students and faculty were mounted locally as soon as they became available. All library staff have personal computers on their desks with email and Internet access. The library recognizes that it has benefited from the leadership of the information technology division and looks for opportunities to share expertise and resources in the development of new programs that support instruction and research. The Library Director, who came to Stony Ridge just over a year ago from a major research university in the Midwest, wants to build on the strengths of the library/IT partnership, but is also interested in having the library play a stronger leadership role in the planning and development of new programs that focus on information resources.
At the same time, the university-wide information technology program is having difficulty establishing priorities and remaining focused, in part due to the recent departure of two senior IT managers–one to a national telecommunications company and the other to a position with the Federal Communications Commission. Long at the leading edge in information technology among higher education institutions, there is a strong desire in the IT organization and on the part of the President to maintain a course of action that continues to support innovation and prevents Stony Ridge from falling into a maintenance posture. It is critical to the long-term survival of the university that it keep its reputation in this area.
This is a small, but prestigious college located in an urban environment in the eastern part of the country. It has a selective admissions policy and an endowment of $300 million. It enrolls 1,000 students and has a faculty of 110. It has one of the premier music programs in the country at the undergraduate level. The library has a budget of $2.5 million, a collection of 450,000 books and 1,500 serial subscriptions. There is a staff of 28, including three staff members who work in the separate music library.
In the early 1980s, Winter College, along with two other similar colleges in the same city, established a three-college computing center. They saw this as a way of saving money in establishing a much-needed technology. The three presidents of the colleges formed a board that hired an Executive Director of the consortium. This individual oversees the computing resources for the three colleges. The three library directors meet with this individual on a monthly basis. In the early 1980s the consortium purchased a turnkey library automation system which serves as the system for the three colleges. Some bibliographic databases are mounted on the consortium server, and other databases are on CD ROMs, depending on the needs of each college. Each campus has its own CWIS, although they each run on the central consortium machine. The consortium also manages the network and telephone systems for the three colleges.
Much of the development and management of the computer systems of the three colleges is done by verbal agreement and advisory committees meeting with the Executive Director of the consortium. Each college contributes an equal share toward the support of the central computing facility. The budget of the consortium is $5 million per year with $2.5 million devoted to computing. There is a central computing staff of 30. Other local funds support desk-top computing at each college, although the consortium supports the equipment and sets standards for purchase. The library directors believe that there is a need to migrate to a new client-server architecture for the library system. The Executive Director has many other priorities, especially those supporting classroom instruction, teaching and learning.
This large public university located in the West has a distinguished history as an institution of higher learning. The student enrollment is 32,000. There are 1,700 faculty, Ph.Ds are offered in 80 fields, and there are 9,000 graduate students. There are 7 million volumes in the library’s collections and the library budget for this year is $31 million. There are 750 staff. Information technology serves both academic and administrative computing needs with a staff of 195 and a budget of $22.5 million. Information technology reports to the Vice President for Administration; the library reports to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. As of last week, the Director of the Library is part of a special task force reporting to the President on the development of innovative information technology systems for instruction and research.
The computing center focuses on administrative computing, research computing, and technology infrastructure and believes it is serving its customers well. It has made cautious purchases over the years and has chosen technology with a proven track record and good long-term utility. During the 1970s and 1980s the computing center developed strong ties to major vendors in the computer industry which benefited the University financially. More recently it has been developing similar relationships with regional and national telecommunication companies to address needs for network communication with remote campuses and extension centers. The computing center expects campus units to come to them after projects have been developed and bid, so that they can serve on a contract basis in both implementation and maintenance roles.
Because they did not see leadership or support coming from the computing center, each school or discipline has taken over the task of developing its own student computing resources. This has created fragmentation and an unevenness in the levels and availability of information technology and computing support. This fragmentation of technology also extends to the various school and branch libraries, many of which adopted their own technology solutions for bibliographic databases and local area network communications during the late 1980s and into the 1990s.
A new Library Director with a systems background, extremely knowledgeable about information technology, has made enormous progress in updating technology within the library over the past two years. She lobbied for and received funding for an integrated library system (ILS) to replace the fragmented, semi-automated systems that had been in place. The ILS is up and running in the main library, but implementation in the school and branch libraries is going slowly. She initiated a faculty and student partnership program for the joint development of innovative information resources services. She has just received word that her request for funding for a DWIS has been met with enthusiasm by the Board of Trustees, though the Trustees did recommend that the proposal be reexamined in two areas: to better explain the role of the information technology division in the DWIS development and to investigate the feasibility of expanding such a system to include outreach to the public and to alumni, possibly on the model of a free-net community information system.
Instructions: In the space below, identify the forces in the situation in your case study that are driving efforts toward increased collaboration and forces that may be restraining progress or driving toward individual efforts.
|working together (constraining forces)||status quo||working in isolation (driving forces)|
Instructions: Use this worksheet to identify areas of strength and areas of weakness for the relationship outlined in the case study.
Partnership in Context: degree to which the partners believe that the partnership will be sustained over time.
- Mutual benefit: explicit articulation and agreement upon the benefits accrued by each member of the partnership. Categories of benefits: financial returns, process or product innovations, operations efficiency, risk sharing, positive working environment
- Commitment: agreement/desire to sustain relationship. Indicators of commitment: shared goals, incentive systems, contracts.
- Predisposition: an existing predilection in favor of the partnership. Demonstrated through: trust (based on track record and personal relationships), existing attitudes and assumptions.
Partnership in Action: ability of partners to influence policies and decisions that affect the operational performance of the partnership
- Shared Knowledge: of each other’s perspective, environment, culture, work processes.
- Mutual Dependency on Distinctive Competencies and Resources: skilled personnel, management time, physical assets.
- Organizational Linkage: physical process linkage, information integration, social networks.
Instructions: Based on your understanding of the opportunities, constraints, and possibilities inherent in this case study, what is your proposal for a course of action for these two units at this institution? You may wish to consider the following questions:
- What problems need to be solved or what opportunities are currently available? (Lack of LAN on campus, new president with technology agenda, etc.)
- What should the goal(s) of the collaboration be? (Build understanding for better relationship, improve customer access to external resources, etc.)
- What project(s) or activities should be undertaken? (CWIS, joint planning, etc.)
- What risks and what benefits are associated with the proposed course of action? (Sense of loss of autonomy/unique identity/power/resources, skill building for staff, etc.)
- What kinds of resources would be needed? (Capital, human resources ongoing, one-time, etc.)
- What should the governance arrangement be? (Formal written agreements, joint planning group, etc.)
- What should the planning horizon be? (Six months, three years, etc.)