It has been proposed in Cabinet that the Unit Computing Specialists in Alexander, Douglass, and Kilmer Libraries and in the Library of Science and Medicine report to Anne Butman in Systems rather than to the local reference team leader. The Steering Group was very concerned about how this change would affect the quality of service offered to our users. They discussed the issue at length and subsequently collaborated via email on a memorandum to the Associate University Librarian for Research and Instructional Services (see attached).
The Steering Group discussed ways to begin work at the next New Brunswick Library Faculty meeting on one of the ISSG goals for Academic Year 2008-09: "Explore strategies for effectively meeting the need for undergraduate instruction." First Jeris will report on recent instruction initiatives in New Brunswick and university wide. Then Tom will lead a discussion of a number of key issues, such as learning objectives for library sessions and what the new online tutorial currently under development can contribute to undergraduate instruction.
The New Brunswick Information Services Steering Group would like to share with you our thoughts regarding the reporting structure for the RIS Unit Computing Specialists. Since we understand that changes are under discussion, we thought it would be helpful to provide some information and perspective regarding the important role that the UCSs play in RIS. Since its inception, we have found that the current embedded model has served our users extremely well.
The USC's are an integral part of the information services team in their respective units. They provide services that are essential to the RIS mission. They:
All of these tasks are central to RIS's ability to provide quality service to our users. The UCSs play a key role because they mediate between users' needs and the technology available to meet those needs. If their embedded reporting structure were to change, they would lose touch with the public service context in which we employ technology.
While the RIS librarians are always very happy to discuss ways of improving communications with our colleagues in Systems, we think a change in the current reporting structure would detract from the quality of service we provide and would not help the Systems Department. If the training or skills of individual UCSs is an issue, we feel that should be addressed on an individual basis. We fully understand that there is a serious staffing shortage in Systems. Especially in the current budget crisis, the UCSs are always ready to assist whenever they can. In fact, they have already taken on additional tasks to help out, such as installing staff PCs, and with their colleagues in Systems, reimaging the public machines in their units. Given this availability in the past, and with an increased focus on collegial support in the future, we believe that a different reporting structure will not help relieve the staffing shortage in Systems.
We would be happy to discuss this with you at your convenience.
Respectfully and collegially,
The New Brunswick Information Services Steering Group,
Tom Glynn, Chair
cc: Jane Sloan, Chair, New Brunswick Libraries Faculty