We know we will have challenges ahead to support the University in light of the
above trends and as SMU expands its research agenda. At the same time, it is
important to acknowledge how far we have come since the last period of review.
Some of the most obvious changes have occurred in the use of space. The Fondren
reference area that previously housed a collection of 10,000 reference books is
now a humming Information Commons with over 70 computers supported by a
much-reduced physical print collection. At the request of the students, we
created group study rooms with computers, white boards and vibrant colors as
well as a student lounge with vending machines and coffee to fuel creativity
during the ‘night owl’ hours. The Hamon Arts Library created a similar space
where students listen to and view all forms of media at one-stop shop multimedia
CUL’s budget stabilized over the last five years with a regular infusion of acquisitions increases, additional funding for student workers to support new services such as the 24/7 study hall, and support for a variety of temporary positions that enabled the Libraries to pilot new initiatives such as digital content management and grant writing. Several new permanent positions were added in the areas of web services, fundraising, technical support, personnel, university archives, music media, photography curation and digital services.
Our collections have grown by more than 280,000 volumes, and we have doubled the number of databases and e-journals to over 5,000. We acquired many notable archival collections, such as the JCPenney Archives, the Stanley Marcus Library, the Horchow papers, the Temerlin Archives, the TI Historical Archive, the contents of the Texas History Museum, the Hahn Algonquin papers and two collections of unique WWII photographs. We subscribe to various ‘big deals’ of online resources and databases through consortia such as TexShare and Phoenix to leverage our acquisitions dollars for electronic resources, and provide access to over 33,500 eBooks.
Another obvious area of progress has been to make our services more convenient for our users, specifically by moving many of our functions online. For example, renewing books, borrowing from other libraries and ‘chatting’ with librarians can all be done via the internet. We incorporated the media library into the main library, created iPod reserves for music, developed an online resource alert service for faculty and students and repurposed our classroom technology support unit to focus on digital production and student multimedia support.
At the same time, we raised CUL’s visibility both on and off campus with the creation of a portfolio of high quality, glossy publications such as Browsing Forward (a biennial newsletter) and the CUL Annual Report. CUL news items are included regularly in the SMU Forum and picked up by the national press. Our first centrally-funded major gifts officer joined the staff in 2008 and CUL is now well-placed to play a central role in the upcoming campaign with its own volunteer fundraising committee and staff support. Various projects funded externally over the intervening years include the Remember the Ladies! Campaign, which has raised over $500,000 for the Archives of Women of the Southwest; the commissioning of an architect to develop initial plans for the FLC renovation; the creation of a staff award endowment; and the digitization of the Tyler, Texas Collection of race movies. At the same time, the SMU Libraries Executive Board has grown stronger, more focused and more enthusiastic in its advocacy of our cause, as has the Friends of the SMU Libraries/Colophon (FOL).
CUL worked hard over these years to collaborate with many SMU units. In partnership with the School of Education and Human Development, CUL received temporary funding for a grant writer; with support from the Faculty Senate and the Provost’s Office, CUL created an annual Faculty Recognition day to honor faculty and their publications. We formed the Strategic Alliance to unite contiguous, non-CUL units to work on information technology issues as well as a Student Advisory Council that acts as a forum for students to voice their concerns and give input on service enhancements.
Internally, CUL worked diligently to improve opportunities for staff. We created additional awards such as the FOL Library School Scholarship, CUL Team Award and the Dean’s Eureka Award; raised the librarian minimum salary; created a promotional ladder for librarians with annual support from the Provost’s Office; created a library mentoring program and a support group for library staff going to (or thinking of) library school. For more efficient personnel practices, we established a separate CUL human resources office and consolidated student payroll and hiring staff processes.
CUL has much to be proud of as it looks back over the last seven years. We are well placed to succeed as we challenge ourselves to move ahead and play an integral role in SMU’s second century.