The Information Steering Group met for a second time to discuss workload issues within the New Brunswick libraries. This meeting focused primarily on workload demands for instruction generally and for the English Department's Writing Program in particular. The Steering Group would like to prepare for a discussion of these issues at the New Brunswick Libraries Faculty meeting on Dec. 14 that will result in a plan for instruction for the Writing Program in the coming semester. Valeda proposed presenting this issue to the faculty in three parts at three levels. The following discussion summary is informed by that proposal.
Valeda would like to begin by explaining to the New Brunswick Libraries Faculty her priorities for the newly created unit, Research and Instructional Services, that she was hired to lead. Presumably this would also include a discussion of the identity of the NBL faculty within that unit. Valeda believes that such an identity would have to be founded upon the full participation of the entire faculty in a range of information services. She stressed the importance of teamwork. There was some concern, however, that some faculty members might regard "teamwork" as simply a way of repackaging "equity," a rhetorical strategy rather than a plan for action. The Steering Group did agree wholeheartedly that we should drop the term equity altogether and that we should use the term workload only in a collective sense. We recognized that it will be more productive to focus on the demands that will be placed upon the New Brunswick libraries as a unit and what steps need to be taken to meet those demands.
Valeda would then like to discuss with the faculty the challenges we currently face in instruction. She will make it clear that bibliographic instruction is her first priority, that she was hired in part because of her background in that area. She wants to develop a vision of the future of instruction for all of Research and Instructional Services. A number of the Steering Group members explained that in the past there has been some dissatisfaction among our New Brunswick colleagues with the planning and implementation of our instruction program, that there has been a sense that important decisions have been made without input from the entire faculty. We agreed that we need to have a general discussion of our philosophy of bibliographic instruction. It would address fundamental questions such as: What level and kind of resources should we devote to "general instruction" for classes like the Writing Program's? What role should subject specialists play in teaching those classes? What level of participation can be expected of colleagues who have especially heavy responsibilities in other areas? Is it productive to require librarians with little facility in instruction to participate in the instruction program? It was suggested that once the entire faculty has worked together to answer such questions, the entire faculty will be willing to participate fully at all levels. We all agreed that we need to focus not on the problems we have had in the past, but rather on viable plans for the future.
Finally, Valeda would like to plan specifically for the Writing Program this spring. We need to make specific, practical decisions that will determine how we will respond to the heavy demand for instruction for those courses. As a first step, we agreed that there should be two library sessions for each class. Given that number, Jeris will be able to report at the meeting on Dec. 14 what our overall workload for the Writing Program will be next semester. The Steering Group will need to discuss beforehand different means of apportioning the classes and present some models at the faculty meeting. Our basic options are fairly simple: we could simply give each librarian a "quota"; courses could be assigned based upon subject expertise; or we could identify a core group of librarians who would do much of this general instruction and who would be expected to do less in other areas. In reality, none of these options are mutually exclusive. This is complex challenge and we will not be able propose a single, simple solution. Moreover, this is just the start of an ongoing development of our instruction program. Our response to the issue will certainly change for example as we hire more instruction librarians and further refine our online instruction.