The Mentoring Task Force continues to meet and is currently examining mentoring programs at other institutions.
The RUL group questionnaires are available in a Sakai site and the committee will analyze the responses, especially as they relate to redundancy and faculty workload. There are a few surveys that are missing and the Faculty Coordinator is following up on these.
The Committee will develop a list of activities that are considered "committed time."
The University Librarian is discussing with staff and faculty the organizational structure reports and the proposal from the New Brunswick Libraries faculty that combines New Brunswick campus responsibilities with an associate university librarian position.
The committee will discuss its role in recommending priorities for faculty line assignments.
The meeting was called to order at 9:30 a.m.
Some faculty members at the RUL faculty meeting on November 11 expressed reservations about implementing a formal mentoring program. It was suggested, for example, that an untenured librarian might receive poor advice from a mentor in the program. The task force chair stressed that mentors would be carefully vetted before participating and that participation on the part of tenured librarians would be strictly voluntary. The untenured members of the committee pointed out that the untenured librarians have expressed support for a formal mentoring process. Since only a few librarians are in the tenure stream at any one time, a successful program would require only a small number of enthusiastic and well-trained mentors. The task force continues to meet and is currently investigating mentoring programs at other institutions.
All of the RUL group questionnaires have been completed and have been placed in a Sakai site. The Faculty Coordinator began an examination of the seven committees mandated in the University by-laws as well as the three Councils. She noted that a few questionnaires are missing, and will follow up on making them available. Of the committees mandated in the bylaws, some of the responses recommended changes in the group's charge or configuration. The committee will examine the questionnaires in detail and make recommendations, especially as they relate to redundancy and faculty workload. A review of the faculty committees will be a first priority. As part of the discussion that followed, members considered at some length the role of the Research Leave Committee.
The Faculty Coordinator led an extensive and productive discussion of faculty "committed time." At the outset, members of the committee did not share a common understanding of what is meant by the term. For one it referred primarily to time set aside for committee meetings. Another conceived it more broadly to include any commitments that require a librarian to be in a specific place at a specific time. Committed time in this sense would include assignments such as reference desk shifts and bibliographic instruction. A third committee member defined it as one's core professional responsibilities, as the tasks that one must accomplish as part of ones basic job description. In this case, it was irrelevant whether the task in question was carried out at a specifically scheduled time. The ensuing discussion tended to center around this third definition.
Defining committed time in terms of core responsibilities allows us to better understand both workload equity and workload flexibility. It should help us gain some sense of how equitably work is distributed among the library faculty. Beyond this, however, assuming an equitable distribution, there are differences across the libraries in the flexibility of librarians' committed time. Certain faculty members have many core responsibilities must be done at a certain time and often in a certain place. For example, some of our colleagues must serve ex officio on many different committees. This should be taken into account when librarians take on or are assigned committee work or other responsibilities that are not part of their committed time.
An analysis of workload must also take into consideration tasks that librarians perform beyond their core responsibilities. Much of this "noncommitted time" involves serving on library committees. We should consider whether committee service is equitably distributed and whether the current committee structure makes the best and most efficient use of our time and expertise. In certain instances it may be desirable to merge committees or to assign to an individual the work that is presently performed by a committee. Streamlining however entail risks. Committees allow us to take advantage of a range of skills and experiences and to ensure that units within the Libraries are adequately represented. The challenge is to design them such that we make effective use of our human resources and minimize duplication of effort across the system.
In order to gain a better understanding of the issue, the committee will work towards developing a list of committed time. The list will provide examples of how much time is devoted to various tasks, expressed either in hours or a percentage of a librarian's total time at work, and whether or not it is performed at a scheduled time. A calculation of actual committed time may cover a day, week, month, semester or any other period. The list will also include a list of the committees on which faculty may serve, including within the Libraries or within professional organizations, and how often they meet. This exercise should help us develop methods of analyzing committed time.
The search for a New Brunswick Libraries Director is related to the possible restructuring of Access Services and Collection Services system-wide. In September, the University Librarian sent faculty and staff reports from Judy Gardner and Gracemary Smulewitz that recommended centralizing these two functions. In practice, the local access and collections services units have already been cooperating system-wide in cross-campus functional units and both reports have thus far been well received by staff in those areas. The New Brunswick librarians also responded favorably to the recommendations in the reports and considered them in developing a plan for reconfiguring the director position. The University Librarian met with the New Brunswick faculty on November 17 to discuss their proposal. The "Associate University Librarian for Academic Research and New Brunswick Libraries Faculty" would, among other responsibilities, act as a mentor for New Brunswick faculty, assist with fund-raising for New Brunswick Libraries, and foster research initiatives, especially as they relate to the content of the institutional repository.
The University Librarian will be discussing this proposal with Cabinet and other groups. Research is certainly a critical component of the Libraries' mission and it makes sense that New Brunswick Libraries should take the lead in this area. There are, however, aspects of the proposed position that will require further consideration. For example, it is unclear at present whether the duties outlined in the proposal are substantial enough for cabinet-level position. Moreover, how those duties will be defined in relation to the other associate university librarians and the directors in Camden and Newark is problematic. Simply by the nature of the work we do and the complexities of the RUL system, some blurring of responsibilities is inevitable. At the same time, we need to describe a position that is reasonably coherent and that will attract strong candidates nation-wide.
Librarians are encouraged to discuss the restructuring and the New Brunswick director position in their units. If the University Librarian decides that their current proposal is untenable, she will continue to consult with the New Brunswick faculty.
Ann Montanaro and the University Librarian reported at Cabinet on the Association of Research Libraries' forum on "Managing Digital Assets: Strategic Issues for Research Libraries." Donald Waters of the Mellon Foundation presented an excellent paper entitled "Managing Digital Assets in Higher Education: An Overview of Strategic Issues." It would be worthwhile for faculty and staff to read this and discuss it at some future meeting. Also, we will invite Waters to speak at the Libraries sometime in February. The fulltext of all of the papers delivered at the conference may be viewed at: www.arl.org/forum05.
At the last Faculty Senate meeting, President McCormick outlined a proposal for a large bond issue that would be used solely for academic buildings. If the bond issue passes, the Libraries will submit a request for funding for various projects. Our first priority would be an expansion of the Annex. A new science library might also be included, as well as projects in Camden and Newark.
The university-wide Libraries Advisory Committee will meet on December 1. Among the topics are the strategic plan and a discussion of the results of the LibQUAL+ survey.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:10 p.m.