SFU Library Three Year Plan January 1999-2001

Mission Statement
At the heart of the University, the SFU Library is dedicated to providing access to collections, services and facilities of the highest possible quality in support of the teaching, learning and research goals of the Simon Fraser University community.

SFU Library Three Year Plan (1999-2001)
 STATUS January 2000



The Simon Fraser University Library was reviewed in 1998. The Three Year Plan is in part a response to issues raised in the review. Many activities related to the goals identified in this Plan are well under way, as it was deemed most effective to proceed where possible with important activities rather than await agreement over the complete contents of this Plan. Therefore we would propose that the end date of the Plan be December 31, 2001. The Plan will be made available for comment to the SFU University community during February 1999 and finalized by March 31, 1999.


The status of each part of the Plan is noted below in bold italics.


The SFU Library's community is characterized by its diversity. While sharing much in common, it is quite evident from the Library's 1997 User surveys[1] that the information needs and priorities of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates are quite different. These competing needs must be kept in mind as the Library makes its plans. The Library's goals for the period 1999-2001 are grouped into three equally important areas:

  • Communications;
  • Collections development;
  • Customer service.

We also discuss the resources required to support these goals.

1. Communications

The Library Review Report emphasized the need for improved communication between the Library and the University community; this will be a very high priority over the next three years. SFU Library staff support the importance of this communication and consultation. The following goals identify specific means by which we intend to meet our objectives.

a. External to the Library

Senate Library Committee

  • In response to concerns in the Review Report, the Senate Library Committee will begin in summer semester 1999 meeting according to a predetermined schedule. Complete.
  • The membership of the Senate Library Committee has been reviewed and proposals are being forwarded to expand it to include undergraduate, graduate, librarian, and staff representatives. Complete.
  • Increased consultation is taking place, particularly in relation to collection issues, and there is an effort to form more positive bonds with the SLC. For example, there is a proposal for the Senate Library Committee to sponsor a workshop on how researchers in different disciplines use information resources. Begun; ongoing.

Liaison Librarians and Departmental Representatives

  • The liaison relationship with SFU faculty is a successful model which we wish to enhance. This also involves strengthening the role of the liaison librarian. In particular, we will be involving departmental reps and liaison librarians in allocation of the library collection budget within their subject area. Begun; ongoing.

General communications to faculty and students

  • We will increase the frequency of  meetings between the University Librarian and groups such as the SFSS, TSSU, and SFUFA Begun; ongoing.
  • The Library's Web resource, the Kiosk, is a primary source of information about the Library. We will improve its organization and content to simplify access to the Library's resources. Complete; ongoing.
  • The University Librarian (Pro Tem) has an open door policy and welcomes visits and discussion with all members of the SFU community. Begun; ongoing.

b. Internal

It is important to improve commununications within the Library in order that our services be most effective. We plan to:

  • Establish cross-divisional communication channels within the Library to ensure that library activities are carried out most effectively, given available resources. Begun; ongoing.
  • Establish planning mechanisms which involve appropriate staff to ensure that all perspectives are addressed. Begun; ongoing.
  • Improve orientation and training for library staff to ensure that we provide the best possible level of service to the community. Begun.
  • Establish a staff newsletter. Under way.

2. Collections development

Library journal and book collections were identified in the 1997 User surveys as  most important  to both faculty and students. We will be seeking to make the most effective use of available collection funds.

Scholarly publication is changing dramatically with the advent of electronic journals and alternatives to traditional publishing mechanisms, particularly in the pure and applied sciences. The Library must be an active participant through its participation in organizations such as CARL (Canadian Association of Research Libraries), COPPUL (Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries) and SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition). We must raise awareness on the SFU campus of the acute funding problems caused by the high cost of scholarly publications and work with creators of scholarly materials to find means to contain these costs. We must be proactive in our collection activities to respond to the changes in the industry.

As faculty members leave or retire and new faculty arrive, and as programmes offered by SFU change, the  Library collection mix required to support new faculties and programmes changes; we must continue to develop methods to respond to those changes.

At the same time, limitations in the SFU Library collections budget require us to supplement our collections with the best possible Interlibrary Loan service. This has been achieved by expanding access to and direct requesting from online catalogues and databases. There is still improvement to be made in this area. The challenge must be met particularly with the expansion of Distance Education and other online programmes.

Specific steps the Library will take include:

  • Prepare a written collections policy and communicate it to the university community; Under way.
  • Prepare a written policy for determining appropriate uses for the Library's endowment funds  and communicate it to the university community; Not yet; specific priorities have been established, for example the SFU portion of the CFI Canadian National Site Licence Project; and the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions collection.
  • Re-examine collection allocations in relation to current SFU programmes: Begun.
    • Identify criteria to be used to determine equitable allocations;
    • Examine present allocations to determine if they are equitable; and
    • Identify mechanisms to address any inequities;
  • Adjust the Library's profiles to conform with changes; and rework them to take advantage of new vendor technologies; Complete in part; ongoing.
  • Identify electronic alternatives to print in order to achieve cheaper and better access to collections; Begun; ongoing.
  • Cooperate with other libraries in collection development, acquisition of electronic text, and document delivery. Begun; ongoing.
  • Ensure/improve access to the collection through improving internal processes:
    • Provide electronic reserves materials where feasible; it should be noted that copyright restrictions limit our options at present; Complete.
    • Provide more timely access to electronic resources as we regularize procedures for acquisition, financing and provision of electronic texts; Begun; ongoing. Serials librarian replacement will have this responsibility.
    • Reduce the processing backlog (through the project currently under way) and  establish procedures and staffing levels to ensure materials are available as quickly as possible. Complete.
  • Ensure/improve security for the collection:
    • Provide screens for windows which open on floors 3-4 Complete in Reserves area; air circulation improved. Further funding requested.
    • Examine ways of increasing Reserve materials security Alternatives are being considered.
  • Identify funding for more shelf space when the current space is exhausted (2002 for compact shelving on Floor 1; 2008 for regular stacks). Realistic options after fl.1 compact shelving is full include an onsite automated book retrieval facility, or offsite warehouse space. The options and space requirements were reviewed again. Despite the potential slowdown in the rate of growth of the collection as we acquire more material electronically, we still anticipate that the Library will be full in 2008. The Automated Retrieval Centre (ARC) is on the University's Capital Plan, and on the Library's Advancement plan.
  • Although the Belzberg Library is able to meet the current library needs of the Harbour Centre campus, we will work with Harbour Centre administrators to ensure that Belzberg Library space and resources can support any future expansion. The Library will support a small facility on fl.7 in Harbour Centre.
  •  Establish an Electronic Text Centre for the University. This facility would provide support for making available electronic materials which are unique to SFU; these would be converted from print materials  when an academic purpose could be served by doing so. Examples are the Anna Jamieson letters, and other materials of interest to the Print Culture Programme. Alternatively materials could be developed only in electronic form. The Senate Library Committee  supported the proposed Electronic Document Centre ; this is an ongoing effort. http://edocs.lib.sfu.ca .
  •  Identify collection budget expenditures which are low priority or could be reduced or changed to effect savings (e.g. binding). These expenditures might be used to improve budgets for identified underfunded areas. Both monograph and serial binding costs have been reduced through more intensive triage of monograph materials and in-house repairs; and through the introduction of flush binding for most serials. Some underused reference titles were cancelled.

3. Customer Service

As the Review Report recognised, the services provided by Library staff are essential to support the best possible access for the SFU community to information. We want to make the Library easier to use, more convenient, and more responsive to user needs.

  • In response to users' requests, we are expanding Bennett Library hours effective January 31, 1999. We have been able to do so by reallocating the existing budget. Done.
  • We are developing a prototype online tutorial as a model for other Library tutorials. We will use the MOST (Modular Online Self-paced Tutorial) software to produce other online tutorials, where they are identified as being most effective. Begun; a comparison of the effectiveness of the online tutorial vs. classroom instruction for 'introduction to the catalogue' is being conducted this January.
  • In co-operation with Operations and Technical Services, we plan to provide a variety of electronically wired carrels, which will enable students and faculty to plug their laptops into the campus network and library's online resources. Done.

Also being explored:

  • We will identify services which are low priority or could be reduced or changed to effect savings (such as discontinuing the collection of  paper telephone books, and  university calendars, both of which have been supplanted by online resources). Still to be considered.
  • In order to improve service, the Library is considering creating a Help desk on floor six which would be open longer hours. The desk will open approx. April 2000 for longer desk hours during weekdays, and with expanded services.
  • We are exploring ways of providing improved access to materials in the Fine Arts Room. We reviewed the available options within the Library's budget and concluded that the current operation represented the most effective balance of costs and service given current resources.

 4. Resources

According to the Maclean's annual survey and to our benchmarked libraries, SFU Library's current collections funding level  is intermediate. The resources contributed by the university toward staff and other operating expenses are relatively low compared to our benchmarked libraries. While we recognize the financial restrictions of the SFU University as a whole, we will continue to articulate the Library's particular financial needs, in order that we provide the most effective service to the SFU community.

  • In the current funding climate, we will work with the University's Advancement Office to identify funding sources to augment the Library's budget:
    • Set fundraising priorities to support library collections, and technology and facilities; Under way.
    • Substantially increase the Library endowments;  Under way.
    • Investigate the potential for sale/licencing of SFU Library software. After investigating the potential for sales and alternative products available, we have concluded that Open Sourcing the code and contracting to provide support services has more potential for the GODOT, SLRI and MOSST software.
  • Changes we envision can be achieved by reallocating staff judiciously, in particular to support: liaison/reference librarians; copy cataloguing; Interlibrary Loans/Telebook; proposed 'help desk' support. A number of staff changes and reallocations have occurred, and are reflected in the organization chart. We continue to assess the Library's requirements as vacancies occur, and as part of Library planning.
  • Additional funding is required to make changes to the physical environment; these changes will improve the environment for staff in order that they function more effectively. We wish to:
    • Identify ways of improving the checkout counter area layout; The Loans counter has been moved to provide more room behind the desk, and cutouts in the counter mean less reaching for staff.
    • Make changes to the sorting room discharge facility as identified in a recent ergonomic report. Complete; some further improvements are being considered.

[1]Simon Fraser University, SFU Library in Review, Fall, 1997: Results from a Survey of SFU Students and Results from a Survey of SFU Faculty.

Owned by: Gwen Bird
Last revised: 2023-09-06