STAFF RESOURCES

Technical and Automated Services and Special Collections / University Archives Meeting o n the subject of the Libraries' Reorganization

Thursday, August 10, 2006, 2 p.m.

Attendees: Ron Becker, Melissa da Fina, Sara Harrington (recorder), Michael Joseph, Elizabeth Leicster, Rhonda Marker, Mary Page, Fernanda Perrone, Karen Radic, Jane Sloan, Roberta Tipton, Mary Beth Weber, Larry Weiner

Agenda

Today's meeting is given over to a discussion and discovery session, led by Roberta Tipton and Jane Sloan, on the subject of the Rutgers University Libraries reorganization.

The following handouts were distributed: The minutes of the June 21, 2006 Planning and Coordinating Committee meeting, the current RUL reorganization chart, and the Faculty bylaws.

Reorganization documents can also be located off the Libraries homepage by following this pathway: About the Libraries / Staff Resources / Planning / Reports.

Anonymous feedback can also be given through the reorganization website.

Meeting participants were referred to the June 21, 2006 Planning and Coordinating Committee minutes, authored by Tom Glynn, since these minutes include an initial discussion of the then- impending Libraries reorganization. During that meeting a round robin took place that resulted in the airing of interesting new ideas, and Roberta Tipton volunteered to chair a Working Group on Reorganization. Subsequently, the University Librarian decided, along with R. Tipton and Faculty Coordinator Jane Sloan, that the first step in the process would be a series of focus groups with library faculty.

This is an effort to engage everyone and collect new ideas. A September 22, 2006, special faculty meeting is planned to report what has been offered, then perhaps to explore the implementation of any potential changes.

R. Tipton began the meeting by asking the participants to think in terms of the reorganized structure and ask themselves the following questions: What do you think is missing in the reorganization? What would you like to see? What is not happening that you want to happen? R. Tipton invited attendees to share their thoughts in a round robin discussion and to pose any other questions or issues that they might be interested in raising. Our main goal, R. Tipton stated, is to learn 'the lay of the land,' what we have in common, and how we can work together to solve problems. We are opening a communication process from which we are culling ideas to move forward.

The discussion quickly turned to the current Council structure. One participant stated that they would like to see something more like a Board of Directors, including representatives at large. It was felt that any new group might emerge from existing groups, and that, ideally, any Council should consist of something global that represents everyone. Participants indicated that they would like to see any new group fully addressing issues as they arise and play out, and have the Council work on emerging with a consensus on how priorities are established. While some attendees supported the idea of a single Council, others dissented. How, for example, would a new Council relate to existing functional groups? It was noted that the current Councils are useful because all AULs serve on all Councils. Some sort of Council is necessary, participants agreed, because that is where librarians are represented in a policy setting. Several questions remain unanswered: Do the Councils have to be in the bylaws? What is the need for the Councils?

AULs are expected to provide vision, leadership, advocacy, and harness information about their areas of expertise, as well as gain knowledge from the groups with which they work. Yet the structure of the Councils does not appear to match up with the decision-making processes of the larger organization; a Council structure should be set up that can best influence and assist AUL positions in the current reorganization. Faculty structure must match administrative structure in order to provide maximum influence. If faculty ideas cannot be communicated then the structure needs to change. There is a relationship between planning and structure, and planning should drive structure.

Council members advise AULs in areas of policy, but perhaps, some countered, fewer policy advisory committees are needed and more operational groups are required. Let's focus on the work of the Libraries, one participant suggested, and concentrate on the task at hand through the charging of working groups that would be populated by librarians and staff. If we focus on the work, the policies will follow. We should organize ourselves to focus on the tasks at hand. The Collection Development Council, one participant suggested, has perhaps evolved into a working group consisting of selectors and those working on collections issues. Issues that cut across Councils need to be dealt with-is there a Council structure that we could create that could cut across all of the Councils that currently exist?

There was common interest surrounding how faculty might best incorporate input into the running of the Libraries. There is a perception that decisions and policy recommendations, composed with much effort and arrived at through much deliberation, are ignored. Several people echoed a common concern that important Committee and Task Force reports are banished to file cabinet drawers. Some believe that this may contribute to the so-called 'burnout factor' among those faculty who no longer participate in faculty affairs. Why engage with large scale, long-term endeavors, the thinking goes, if such work will not bear any fruit? In approaching any reorganization, we therefore must look at ways that we can organize as a faculty to ensure maximum input.

Some suggested that the Libraries might return to earlier ideas about the role of the New Brunswick director, specifically, having faculty members fill the position in rotating terms.

Meeting members discussed the issue of faculty representation on Cabinet at length -is it possible that faculty member(s) might serve a term on Cabinet? How effective might this be? And what would we expect a faculty member elected to Cabinet to do-for what would s/he advocate? Could the Faculty Coordinator serve on Cabinet? Faculty member(s) participating on Cabinet, with responsibility of reporting back to faculty, would be an attempt to get a little closer to the Libraries administrative management.

Some offered that it might not be fruitful to suggest that a faculty member why participate in Cabinet, for a variety of reasons. Others countered that perhaps it is a simple as adding the faculty perspective to cabinet on certain pertinent issues, to ensure that the voice of the faculty is heard. There exists an overall conviction that faculty provide a knowledge base that the administration requires, and that increased consultation in advance of major decision making might be fruitful for all involved. In short, the faculty wants to participate in the management of the Libraries.

Participants engaged in a discussion of definitions of faculty governance. Do we, as faculty, want to have real academic planning power analogous to the teaching faculty, in other words, to be deeply in involved in departmental decision-making, hiring decisions, etc.? If we want to be in this position, do we need a governing body with term limits, etc.? Some asked if we as faculty should model ourselves after Senate, and introduced the idea of a faculty caucus, where faculty meet to discuss important issues during the time in between committee meetings and the formal Senate meeting. If this occurs, it was suggested that any faculty-only caucus prior to administration participation in meeting should be a structured discussion. One voice spoke up for 'faculty-only' library faculty meetings.

It was noted that faculty are also represented through the joint Planning and Coordinating Committee. The University Librarian, Faculty Coordinator, and Deputy Faculty Coordinator set the faculty meeting agenda and the Planning and Coordinating Committee agendas in a pre-meeting held two weeks before the meetings. Faculty members do therefore have the opportunity to contribute to the agenda. Indeed, the initial idea when combining the Planning Committee with the Coordinating Committee was so that planning discussions could take place with the participation of the University Librarian. We have avenues as faculty, therefore, that we are not fully exploiting.

It was stated that Librarian V's feel strikingly removed from the entire faculty process and are currently experiencing a level of frustration. Perhaps this is because Librarian V positions are structured around task-oriented responsibilities. One participant, who, it should be noted, is not a Librarian V, lamented that in discussions of open lines Librarian V positions are often the first to be eliminated as a path of least resistance, rather than looking at the contributions that Librarian V's make to the Libraries.

The experience of the Librarian V's is a particularly striking example of the notion that communication throughout the organization as a whole is lacking.

In conclusion, there was a strong agreement that as a faculty we need to learn to practice self- governance. What are the goals we are setting out for ourselves as faculty? How, in the end, do we best join the faculty and administrative structures together in the service of the Libraries as a whole?

The meeting was adjourned at 4:03 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Sara Harrington







Last updated: September 6, 2006
 
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