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 VOL. 23, NO. 22APRIL 24, 1998 

Libraries, AcIS to Receive Additional $35.9M Plus

Will Fund More Staff, Book Storage, Network

Capital Projects—Libraries and AcIS.


The University has committed $35.9 million in additional capital and operating funds for the University Libraries and AcIS (Academic Information Systems). Additional major investments will be made as further capital requests totaling $72.1 million are reviewed during the University’s ongoing capital funds allotment process, which will not be completed for several more months.

  The new $35.9 million in funding, added to the $63.3 million in capital investments made over the last four years and the additional capital commitments expected the next few months, means that well over $100 million in additional investments will be made in the University Libraries and AcIS over the 10-year period of FY95 to FY04.

  This most recent commitment of funds will be used to:

  • Move hundreds of thousands of volumes of infrequently used books, particularly from Butler Library, to off-site storage,

  • Increase the size of the Library staff,

  • Increase the size of the AcIS staff and make the salary structure more competitive,

  • Install a new University computer network architecture, and

  • Improve the remote-access modem pool.

  These improvements will be funded from a variety of sources, including the University’s operating and capital budgets, endowment income, student fees for service and a 12 percent telephone surcharge.

Chart: Operating Budgets for Libraries and AcIS, Base Allocation & Action Plan (% Change Over FY98)
Table (in 000s):

  Without this new infusion of funding, budgets of the Libraries and AcIS were projected to grow at 2.75 percent a year (along with other administrative budgets) and the Library’s materials acquisition budget at 8 percent a year. Now the operating budget for the Libraries will increase by 33.7 percent over the next six fiscal years, from $22.6 million in FY98 to $29.7 million a year in FY04. During the same period, AcIS will have a 103.3 percent increase in its operating budget from $2.7 million to $5.4 million a year.

  Currently the budgets of the Libraries and AcIS are merged into the central administrative budgets of the University, but beginning in FY99 both their operating and capital budgets will be shown as separate line items.

  “Our libraries and computer information systems are at the center of the academic life of Columbia,” said President George Rupp. “These new investments represent a major step forward in our commitment to keep Columbia at the forefront of the development of new forms of scholarly information production and distribution while continuing to add to our impressive library print collections.”

  Added Provost Jonathan R. Cole, “The University is making a greater investment in its libraries and computer information system now than at any point in the last two or three decades, if not longer. During the recent periods of budget containment, we had limited the rate of investments in administrative units of the University. The Libraries and academic information systems are so central to our core mission that we must treat them differently if we are to continue our historic role as a great leader in library and electronic information systems.

Libraries and AcIS Funding Plan
   FY99  FY99–FY04
Network Upgrade
  Ports/Building Bandwidth  1,450,000  7,000,000
  Network Project Support  104,000  435,000
  Backbone  550,000  1,825,000
Off-Site Book Storage Facility  3,500,000  8,660,000
Butler/Lerner Microlab Equipment  300,000  510,000
Interim Storage for Libraries  170,000  510,000
Dial-In Modem Pool  301,800  1,551,800
Prioritized Enhancements for
  Libraries & AcIS
  2,824,352  15,390,015
    Total Funding Plan  9,200,152  35,881,815

  “During the current period of revolutionary change in the way we gather, store and access old and new information, Columbia is committing the additional resources necessary to sustain our great libraries and to continue our role as an innovator in new media and new information networks.”

  The priorities targeted for funding were outlined in the comprehensive Libraries and AcIS Action Plan released last fall by Elaine Sloan, vice president for information services and University librarian, and refined through the work of an 18-member faculty advisory committee, chaired by the Provost, which has met biweekly since December.

  The University has already invested $42.5 million of debt financing in improving Butler Library. It has also received $16 million in gifts for the renovation of Butler, including a generous $10 million gift from Trustee Philip L. Milstein and his family to name the undergraduate College library the Philip L. Milstein and Family College Library.

  During the first phase of Butler’s renovation, the mechanical infrastructure of the building was modernized and technical services were consolidated on the first floor. Phase 2, which is scheduled for completion by the year 2000, will transform the building’s second and third floors. Further investments will be made in Butler both to the physical infrastructure and to the quality of the stacks that over the next few years should virtually complete its renovation and restoration.

  As a result of a generous gift from Michael and Zena Wiener, another $2 million was invested to reconstruct the Gabe M. Wiener Music & Arts Library and make state-of-the-art improvements in its electronic equipment. And $1.2 million has also been committed to upgrading the HVAC infrastructure of the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library.

  Among the top priorities for the next investment of capital are:

  • Avery Library,

  • The Rare Book and Manuscript Library,

  • Accelerated completion of the retrospective conversion of old books into the CLIO Plus system, and

  • The replacement of CLIO Plus with the next generation on-line cataloging system.

  “When faculty and students return next September for the fall term,” Cole said, “they should see a material improvement in the stacks. By the end of the fall semester, they will also get a good feel for the quality of the restored and renovated space in the undergraduate library in Butler.”

Capital Expenditures and Commitments
Made before Action Plan (in 000s)
Butler Renovation (Phase 1 & 2)  42,207
Weiner Music and Arts Library  2,000
Avery Library  1,194
  Libraries  7,223
  AcIS  10,667
Total  63,291

  More than 250,000 volumes of seldomly used books will be transferred to a temporary off-site storage, from which they will be available on a one- or two-day turnaround basis depending on how early in the day the request is made. Over 100,000 volumes will be transferred by the start of the fall term and another 150,000-plus volumes during the next two academic years, alleviating shelf crowding. With the additional library staff that will be hired, these transfers will ensure that the stacks will be maintained better and, therefore, make it easier for faculty and students to find materials.

  The temporary storage facility will be used for three years while the University invests $8.75 million in the construction of a state-of-the-art permanent off-site storage facility and during the initial transferring, cataloging and electronic processing of the material being stored in the permanent site. This facility, a joint venture with the New York Public Library, will also make specific volumes available on the same day or the day after a request is made. Within a year of its opening in 2001, the Columbia Libraries will move more than 1 million volumes into it. By 2003, it will house more than 2 million Columbia volumes.

  To measure the effectiveness of these investments, the Libraries are developing staff performance indicators as well as user surveys to track the level of user satisfaction and service improvements.

  AcIS will install a new architecture for its campus-wide computer network, replacing the current architecture, which is reaching the end of its useful life. With the current system, users share bandwidth, that is, share access to the network. Consequently, a researcher who requires a lot of bandwidth can shut down access to the network for an entire building. The new architecture will have dedicated bandwidth for every individual user.

  Another major investment will be made in substantially improving remote-access to the network by upgrading the existing modem pool and expanding it to more than 500 high-speed modems. These enhancements should reduce the time it takes faculty and students to dial into the campus computer network.

A rendering of a lounge area planned for Butler.

  AcIS will also recruit the equivalent of 11 full-time employees (FTEs), five of whom will be added to the Help Desk. The result will be better service during the day, and an extension of hours into the evening, from the current 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. to service from 7:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M. Salary levels will be improved to maintain AcIS’s competitiveness with other universities, and AcIS will develop new career models to improve staff stability.

  “This demonstration of the University’s commitment to the Libraries and AcIS,” said Sloan, “will ensure that Columbia can maintain an extraordinary library and information system. The very substantial incremental resources that will be allocated over the next six years will result in tangible improvements to the services and resources available to students and faculty.”