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MGT releases detailed library report, recommendations

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As a part of the Path Forward initiative in response to the Oct. 25, 2021, report delivered by MGT of America Consulting, President M. Katherine Banks ordered a follow-up report with a redesign of the University Libraries system. Today, MGT Consulting delivered their final report on library redesign that will be given to President Banks alongside the report from Working Group 14.

In addition to the consulting group’s new report, Working Group 14 is also addressing the future of the libraries but did not author this report. Working Group 14 is focused on integration of faculty librarians and has not yet made final recommendations. 

Outlined in the report are eight essential questions the group was tasked with answering, considering investments, staffing, accreditation, use of space and defining a “service library.” The final report is a conglomeration of responses from faculty, staff and students, based on “approximately 50 responses from emails,” the report reads. 

MGT’s methodology included an “environmental scan,” “review of the current state of the University Libraries,” “future library trends and analysis,” “stakeholder engagement” and “findings and recommendations.” However, MGT does not mention the environmental scan beyond the section listing their methodology.

Additionally, their findings in regard to future library trends is based on a blog post made in 2016 by KSS Architects, a Princeton-based architecture firm. KSS made the post following the opening of the Library Service Center, a library storage center designed by KSS and built in collaboration between Emory University and Georgia Tech for the purpose of storing the majority of both university’s collections in a single joint location.  MGT does not mention Emory or Georgia Tech in their report as “peer or aspirant” universities.

Though the report lists 10 peer institutions or university systems, there is no explanation given as to how these institutions were selected or can be used in comparison to A&M. All 10 institutions have lower enrollment than A&M. The report also offers summaries of each existing library facility, mentioning a plan from library leadership to “remove 30-40% of volumes” due to structural engineering concerns. 

Books would be moved to the Joint Library Facility, or JLF, that serves both the Texas A&M University System and the University of Texas System. The facility was first opened in 2013 and has space for approximately 3 million books, though it is unclear how many books are currently housed there. With the JLF, the intention is to provide a safe and secure facility for archival material, while also allowing students and faculty from both systems to utilize the resources.

A&M’s University Libraries are estimated to currently hold nearly 6 million books, but the amount suggested later in the report to be moved is “approximately 1 million volumes,” which is projected to take 10 years to complete “at current staffing levels.”

The report emphasizes in its introduction the importance of “the learning commons model” in which the final result is a shared space to “make services accessible to students and faculty.”

The first of the recommendations from MGT is to create four types of commons, to be led by a “Commons Council” which is suggested to be composed of “service partners” or university departments and “user constituents,” the varying representative bodies for students and faculty. The four types of commons include an “innovation commons,” to include makerspaces, classrooms or galleries, a “study commons” which consists of quiet spaces to read and study, a “knowledge commons” for special exhibits and a “learning commons” to host various academic support for different content areas. With this outline of “commons” types, there is no direct comparison of where A&M’s current library facilities are not meeting the goals set by the consultants. 

Moving into the need for information on campus, the first recommendation is to better communicate library services, resources and events. The report states that the University Libraries’ website “does not highlight facts about the Libraries in terms of the services, resources and support that is available. Nor does the webpage highlight the additional resources available in the library.” 

Currently, the front page of the library is intended to serve as a search engine and the drop down menu, entitled “Services,” lists nearly 40 of such services offered.

Other services suggested include increased support for graduate student writing, expanded access to the “Get It For Me” service, continued negotiations with publishers to secure needed resources, additional hours for library locations, an increase in electrical outlets, developing more consistent policies for library organization and expanding the reach of the Business Library and Collaboration Commons and the Medical Sciences Library beyond business and health majors. 

When mentioning the term “service library,” the report states the change will be in making library resources available through methods not linked to a particular site, and recommends that the University Libraries be organized “by service functions” in order to “[reduce] the territorial, physical barriers that limit opportunities for collaboration and partnership.” Additionally recommended is further support for publications from A&M, as well as the consolidation of the university Book Press.

Consultants also recommended expansion of library staff, as well as the creation of departments for management of open educational resources and further partnership with the Office of Research. Specifics for these departments are not given. The recommendations also include staff structure changes, reorganization based on service areas which is intended to grow staffing and provide an opportunity for advancement. Specifics for structural changes were not mentioned. 

For investments, MGT recommends the expansion of Open Access for Student Educational Success, or OASES, via increased funding in order to lower the overall cost of materials to students while also giving faculty more flexibility in their resources to update them as needed. Consultants estimate that students will save $7.1 million a year as a result of this initiative. The report also recommends the libraries “work creatively with donors” to identify strategies for further investment into the University Libraries.

As with other documents presented from MGT, these are simply recommendations to be passed onto President Banks and considered in conjunction with Working Group 14’s findings to present an overall plan, a next step in the “Path Forward.”

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  • MGT of America Consulting released a report on Library Redesign for A&M on May 2.

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