PALS Director's Update [pdf] - Stephen Elfstrand (Following are a few highlights. An outline of his remarks is at the very end of these minutes, for further reference.)
Finances are more stable; increased revenues with sales of services has helped. “We aren’t just asking for money, we’re doing something about it.” Cutting expenses remains important. A certain amount of revenue is needed to support a system like Aleph and supporting 60 libraries. Going over to Linux from Solaris would cut costs. Servers, licenses, and staff are the vast majority of our budget items.
We are expanding our product suite. 15 subscribers for Linker - we’re looking for more. If you have a different brand, the PALS product is competitive - ask for a quote. 4 subscribers for ERM. If you get a lot of database subscriptions and a lot of bills to pay, this is a useful product. There is a discount when purchased with Linker.
Version 2 of Evergreen is out with better workflow and a better interface. PALS is becoming a developer. There is broad interest in combining Evergreen and VuFind (MnPALS Plus). Stephen is actively marketing Evergreen services.
With MnPALS Plus, we hit the book cover Google service so much that they cut us off.
Go to http://plustest.mnpals.net/ and you can see the Minnesota Digital Library resources. They have also loaded a few Biomed Central records to see how journal articles look. (That’s not so successful, yet.)
Right now it is difficult to do customized pages, or turn certain features on and off, in MnPALS Plus. As a sort of “freebie” model right now, that’s difficult for PALS to manage. Unless we make it a subscription service, it’s difficult to offer different pages to each library.
The missing piece is federated search. We could try to do an open source version, but substantial development work would need to be done. Is there interest? PALS will test.
PALS staff members are actively working to be sure they are aware of what is happening in the library systems world, making presentations, and working on strategic plans.
MnSCU Update - Todd Digby
The new chancellor, Stephen Rosenstone, was selected. He’ll start this summer. Now there will be a search for a senior vice-chancellor for Academic Affairs (Todd’s boss’s boss). Leadership ranks should be filled by fall. There are many other internal changes with retirements and staff-cutting. The FIRE Library collection will move to a new site, to be announced soon.
The governor’s budget will be released next week. His hope is that the worst-case scenario would be a hold-the-line budget, hopefully a slight increase. Instructional management system rfp is out. They are trying to determine total costs, including faculty retraining costs. Governance committees are undergoing reconstruction to increase communications among campuses and committees.
Stephen and Todd authored an article that will be in the March COMPUTERS IN LIBRARIES issue.
MINITEX Update - Bill DeJohn
1. Cost Avoidance Reports for FY10 have been sent to libraries earlier this week and will continue to be distributed over the next few days until completed. This includes how much a library saved by using Minitex for electronic resources and library products. Also included is a resource sharing paragraph in terms of how many requests were sent to Minitex and how many requests Minitex referred to a library.
2. ELM stories compilation is now being edited. We have about 229 stories with 61 from 19 academic institutions, 11 of which were MnPALS libraries.
3. Bill is expecting a 5% reduction in the Governor’s budget next Tuesday for both Minitex and MnLINK. That’s a reduction of about $301,000 each year of the next biennium. I suppose the Legislature will take that as its base to reduce further. What would this mean? Reduced student hours, reductions in operations. Some programs will be affected. Some subsidies for scholarly resources may be reduced.
4. OCLC’s recent report Perceptions of Libraries is well worth your attention ... and you can download it from OCLC sites.
Futures Interest Group - Michael Kirby
Michael sent out a message asking if anyone would like to moderate a conference call on a topic. You don’t have to be a member of the group.
They would like to see demos of commercial discovery tools at the Annual Meeting on April 14. Keep in mind, one search does not necessarily cover all resources. Ebooks and mobile devices would be good areas for PALS to consider for consortial pricing.
Smart phone app for MNPALS Plus? It’s already pretty mobile-friendly, but maybe there is more we can do. Could we get consortial pricing for libguides?
Tom – An app would be nice, because it’s easier than going to a site and bookmarking it. Stpehen will look into what it takes to create an app, versus style sheets.
The Reference User Group will host the first workday on April 4; Systems April 13; Circ/ILL April 15. Acq/Serials/Cataloging on April 28. Ex LIbris User Group in Fargo next fall will be followed by the Fall PALS User Group meeting; they’ve begun to discuss.
Consortium Strategic Plan
Linda gave an overview of the plan done in 2006. During that process the group came up with five major strategies.
1. Strategic positioning of libraries within the larger structure. She wasn’t sure how much had been done with that one.
2. Implement new and improved technology. A survey was distributed to all libraries. Where is the line between services that are provided as part of membership, and which are charged separately?
3. Marketing and assessment. At the time, we felt we were too new on the Aleph system to do this effectively. How can you tell funders why the system is important? How do we keep in front of funding authorities in this time of cutting? We haven’t done too much yet.
4. Effective member participation. How can we get more members to be involved? We’ve made changes. User Group days are reduced from two to one.
5. Effective use of resources.
How should we proceed? Should we modify the vision statement to reflect the direction of the consortium in the coming years? Larry: It would be a good idea to bring the vision statement to the group.
Considering it was done four years ago, there are a lot of things that seem prescient: discovery tools, ERM, wikis, blogs, changing the user group structures, open source aspects. This is exactly where we are headed. It was a good exercise, and well-done.
Larry: Since we are moving along the lines noted in the report, could Stephen talk about it at the Annual Meeting? Yes, Stephen will ask the group about how much emphasis should be put on a discovery tool. Stephen: Would it make sense to get central funding for some things that are add-ons? Is that even possible? It could be cost-effective to centralize funding for some products, like the Linker? It’s harder for some of the smaller libraries to afford the products.
Linda: In some ways, does strategic planning become even more important in turbulent times, when resources are scarce? What are the best uses of resources to help libraries? You could break up in small groups at the Annual Meeting to discuss issues.
Stephen posed the question, “What are your users crying for that you just can’t provide right now?”
Linda: In the PALS office, we could come up with some good questions.
Planning for the Annual Meeting
Discussed in the previous topic.
Respectfully submitted, Robbie LaFleur
Appendix: A detailed outline of PALS Executive Director Stephen Elfstrand’s report