at UCLA Library
Gary E. Strong, University Librarian, University of California,
Los Angeles (UCLA)
t UCLA we call it “academic and administrative restructuring.”
It has other names in other places. But the same scenario, with
differing dimensions, remains if called something else—higher
education and large research universities are strained at the core and those of us
who care about and for them are challenged to polish our crystal balls and gaze
toward a future that will sustain the values and beliefs that have created our
universities. It seems the debate is raging as ARL looks at scenarios for the
future,1 and Ithaka2 and other groups are pushing to forecast the future of
research libraries.
Dan Greenstein, Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Programs at the
University of California, has been widely quoted from remarks made at a forum
at Baruch College of the City University of New York. He was reported to have
stated, “The university library of the future will be sparsely staffed, highly
decentralized, and have a physical plant consisting of little more than special
collections and study areas. We’re already starting to see a move on the part of
the university libraries…to outsource virtually all the services developed and
maintained over the years.”3 This statement has sparked a widespread debate
about just how accurate such a forecast is.
UCLA Library does not approach its future with this view in mind. When
I arrived at UCLA in 2003, the library was faced with budget reductions that
actually took root in 1994 when the state budget faced significant shortfalls in
revenue. I was challenged with recovering from a failed integrated library
system solution and the closure of the physics library. We worked those
difficulties through. Integration of most of the separate technical services units
across a diverse campus was already underway. Librarians were defining how
we could become more engaged in new directions for undergraduate education,
experiment with digital reference, and envision a new “UCLA electronic
library.” Over the next two years, we drafted a new strategic plan that resulted
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