Roots of Professional Development at Rutgers University Libraries
In August 2000 the Libraries published An Investment in Learning: A Proposed Plan for Learning,
Training, and Professional Development for the Rutgers University Libraries. The Report documented
findings and recommendations of a system-wide steering committee convened in June 1999 by Marianne
Gaunt, University Librarian. The Report intended to support successfully achieving the Libraries'
goals, along with A Bridge to the Future: The Rutgers Digital Library Initiative. The Report
presented ten recommendations designed to facilitate the Libraries' moving to become a "learning
organization" while achieving the goals of the DLI I.
The 10 recommendations of the Report:
- Make learning integral to the carrying out of the Libraries' mission, its long-range plan, its short-term goals.
- Provide for learning and training that is continuous-getting to the heart of the matter.
- Provide appropriate structures for the effective coordination and support of the learning, training, and development plan.
- Address priority learning and training needs made evident by individual and committee needs assessments.
- Focus on the development of effective instructional design as a way to facilitate and enhance learning.
- Make effective use of staff resources Web pages for learning, training, and development.
- Use technologies to facilitate and enhance learning.
- Create an Institute for Library Leadership in the Digital Environment to foster learning at all levels within the Libraries.
- Develop learning and training partnerships/participate in external programs.
- Build an environment for learning.
The needs assessments identified a variety of subject areas for knowledge and skill development, both
in "soft" skills and in technical skills. The list of top twenty-five subject areas included sixteen
that could be termed "soft" skills. In the early stages of developing the training and learning
plans, however, the Training and Learning Advisory Committee decided to focus on technical skill
development, while offering some programs in soft skills as well.
The Investment in Learning Report envisioned eight objectives for the emergent professional
development process at the Libraries:
- Identify and prioritize on an ongoing basis in accordance with RUL goals, required competencies and areas of expertise expressed by diverse committees and other organizational groupings within the Libraries, and the needs of individual librarians and staff.
- Formulate, identify appropriate instructors for, implement, and evaluate a comprehensive series of continuous learning/training programs that address these needs.
- Formulate, implement, and evaluate a series of instructional design strategies (syllabi, documentation, follow-up, etc.) that facilitate learning.
- Facilitate technology-enhanced learning and the effective use of Web-based communication in support of learning.
- Promote the idea of learning as a shared responsibility between individuals and the organization, of learning as ongoing and continuous, of learning as taking place in informal and formal settings, and of learning as integral to one's job-in accordance with the new philosophical statement.
- Develop partnership relations within the university in support of learning, evaluating the effectiveness of the programs on an ongoing basis.
- Develop a support structure that encompasses a coordinator of learning, training, and development services, an advisory committee, local learning/training liaisons, and support for facilitators and trainers.
- Build an environment for learning that will foster innovation and progress.
Professional Development - The First Three Years
The Libraries hired Marilyn Wilt as the RUL Training and Learning Coordinator in June 2001. Working
closely with Samson Soong, Associate University Librarian for Administrative Services, Marilyn
convened the first Training and Learning Advisory Committee, and together they developed an initial
implementation plan which they called "Explore - Discover - Learn". The plan was designed to support
exploring our roles and responsibilities, our functions, our structures, our needs and concerns. In
that exploration we would discover skills, information, experiences that we would learn. The
understanding that would be manifest as we continued to discover and learn would support our
willingness to continue to explore, to try new things. This reflexive process also supports the
maintenance of a vibrant learning environment.
The four components of this initial plan:
- Team Development Series [now called the Collaborative Development Series] -addressing the development of skills in (a) working with difficult people; (b) problem-solving; (c) decision making; (d) stress management; and (e) managing change. The learning objective for the series: to develop skills and understanding to facilitate working effectively with others to achieve mutually-agreed-upon goals.
- Institute for Library Leadership in Digital Environment - as per the IIL Report, develop a three-day institute, with the first target audience being supervisors. The Institute would address the development, support and nurturing of supervisors. As we strengthen their supervisory and leadership skills, we build partnerships with them to support the ongoing development ventures.
- Appreciative Portrait of the Libraries - the Training and Learning Coordinator collaborates with each functional area, committee, council, team to develop a portrait of the Libraries. Through a series of facilitated conversations, we would together construct the "portrait," spelling out individual roles and responsibilities, functions, structures. Each would be placed in the picture showing connections to other areas (both within and outside the Libraries), as well as contributions to the successful achievement of the overall goals of the Libraries. We envisioned these conversations as part of a regularly scheduled meeting, to avoid adding further time commitments to everyone's full schedule.
- Training and Development Website - moving the website from an archival site to a more interactive one. We would offer T & D calendar and catalog; T & D resources - links to other sites; online tutorials; documentation from completed programs; opportunities to offer suggestions, provide feedback.
After September 11, the Advisory Committee felt it was important to partner with the Committee on
Diversity to create an opportunity for us to come together as a community. The program, "Exploring
Rutgers University Libraries' Community", provided us with colorful (and delectable) opportunities to
learn more about Ramadan, Id al-Fitr, Diwali, Pongal, Chanukah, Winter Solstice, Advent and
Christmas, and Kwansaa. In spring 2002, we participated in two satellite conferences-one dealing with
virtual reference, one dealing with OCLC open archives metadata harvesting protocol.
Our first venture as a "Leadership Institute" was a partnership with LAMA. We invited Abigail Hubbard
to come in April to RUL to facilitate the "Leadership Survival Kit" on two successive days. The
Institute's participants were librarians from both Rutgers University and Princeton University. In
May we partnered with the Instructional Services Committee in the first of two programs called the
The professional development process in 2002-2003 built on the first year's work, and continued to
expand programming. The Committee identified two themes around which programs were organized:
Leadership Development and Technical Skill Development. We used videoconferencing to expand our reach
to both Newark and Camden, although we continued to originate programs in New Brunswick.
We invited colleagues from VALE, SCILS, NJLA, and SLA to join us for a satellite teleconference
entitled "Safeguarding our Patrons' Privacy: What Every Librarian Needs to Know about the USA Patriot
Act and Related Anti-Terrorism Measures." We partnered with the Public Services Council and the
Scholarly and Professional Activities Committee in sponsoring "Where are we going? Alternative models
of reference/public service" with Anne Grodzins Lipow as keynote speaker. At the invitation of
Marianne Gaunt, we partnered with the RUL Planning Committee in the Digital Future Series: "Preparing
for RUL's Digital Future"; "Dealing with Change" [programs in NB and Camden]; "Building Digital New
Jersey: Using Dublin Core." All of these programs were intended to develop our knowledge and
understanding of key issues confronting libraries today, and were part of the leadership development
On the technical development side, we invited Dr. David Magier, Director of Area Studies, Columbia
University Libraries, to facilitate "Advanced Research Strategies on the Internet," and colleagues
from Princeton University Libraries joined us for the program. We began our partnership with Marcie
Anszperger, Director, Staff Computer Literacy, Teaching Excellence Center, with basic programs in
Word and Excel. The Series continues to expand, with us now able to offer programs in Word, Excel,
PowerPoint, and Access on all three campuses, linking to Dana and Robeson via the Polycom equipment.
All of the remote site participants have the handouts and demo disks that the New Brunswick
participants have to use.
We debuted the Training and Development website, which includes a two-month calendar, a course
catalog, links to a variety of T & D resources and tutorials, and a link to Marilyn for feedback and
In 2003-04, the RUL training and development activities built on the programming and design of the
preceding years to bring further to life An Investment in Learning. The emergent training and
development process for the Libraries is grounded in this over-arching mission: to create and
maintain a dynamic, vibrant learning environment that supports the successful achievement of both
individual and organizational goals. We continue to build upon the two focus areas: leadership
development and technical skill development.
- Throughout the year we used the videoconferencing equipment to expand the reach of our programs. To
support our continued use of that technology, we ran a workshop in the summer designed to develop an
expanded understanding of videoconferencing, and the unique roles and responsibilities of both
presenters and participants.
- We continued the technical training series, partnering with the Teaching Excellence Center, and
expanded the workshops offered. We now offer Basic, Intermediate, Advanced Word; Basic, Intermediate,
Advanced Excel; Basic, Intermediate PowerPoint; Basic, Intermediate Access. We also offered the first
program in what we expect to be an ongoing series, partnering with the PC Working Group: a program in
effective file management.
- We partnered with the RUL Planning Committee in the Digital Future Series in the spring 2003, to
expand understanding of the many diverse digital projects being developed and nurtured in the
Libraries. In addition to the three inaugural programs, we collaborated on the design and
implementation of the 2003 State of the Libraries program. We expanded the showcase to spotlight not
only digital projects, but also books and journals of RUL authors and the D21 project. We closed the
morning program with a "performance" of the process of acquiring an e-resource, featuring all of the
"players" that would have a role in the process.
- In the fall 2003, we implemented the Collaborative Development Series in Access Services/Collection
Services in New Brunswick. In partnership with University Human Resources and the Center for
Organizational Development and Leadership, we framed the implementation with a pre-assessment and
post-assessment to give us some baseline information going in, and some initial sense of the
learnings emerging from the Series. [Each session had its own evaluation/assessment as well.] The
four programs-Service Excellence, Effective Problem-Solving, Dealing with Difficult Situations,
Project Management-were offered to everyone in Access Services/Collections Services except for top
management. Following the Collaborative Development Series, we offered a special two-day Supervisory
Development Series to all of the supervisors in AS/CS, intentionally building on their experiences in
the preceding four-part series.
- In consultation with Cabinet, we decided to continue to offer the Collaborative Development Series
to other units/teams in the Libraries. A group from Technical and Automated Services began the series
in June, with sessions offered monthly through the summer.
- We partnered with Human Resources in Newark to offer a supervisory renewal series at Dana Library
in May and June.
- We have continued our partnership with the RUL Planning Committee in 2004, now turning our
attention to supporting the Libraries' strategic planning process. We have designed a series of
programs beginning in July that will support everyone in the RUL community in expanding their
understanding of the challenges/opportunities facing the 21st century academic research library; how
we can learn from the data gathered this spring in the multiple venues, synthesizing them to better
inform the emergent strategic planning process. The first program in the series, Envisioning the
Future Symposium, July 22, brought together Dr. Clara Lovett, President, American Association for
Higher Education, Dr. Philip Furmanski, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Rutgers
University, and Marianne Gaunt, University Librarian, for formal presentations in the morning.
Participants were invited to engage in facilitated small group discussions in the afternoon on topics
growing out of the morning presentations. The series will continue in the fall.
- We have established a formal partnership with the PC Working Group this spring to design and
implement a number of programs, beginning with a new employee's technical orientation that will offer
coaching and strong documentation to support effectively learning to use our systems. We will develop
the orientation strategies and documentation and expect to launch the orientation in the fall.
- We have redefined the charge of the Training and Learning Advisory Committee, building on all of
the lessons learned in the past three years. We invited interested members of the RUL community to
volunteer to join the Committee, and we have seven volunteers from across the three campuses that
have agreed to serve. The Committee will meet in August to begin work on the implementation of the
professional development suite for the coming academic year.
- We continue our partnership with Human Resources, offering New Employee Orientation programs, P4P
information sessions, and other information sessions as needed [e.g. 2003, long-term care insurance].
With each program, or in each series, we strive to offer the participants the kind of environment
that will support their learning-varying the room, the campus, the times as needed to ensure broad
accessibility. We continue to re-evaluate the Training and Development website as well to ensure that
it is an informative, timely resource for everyone in the RUL community.