NEW BRUNSWICK INFORMATION SERVICES STEERING GROUP
ANNUAL REPORT
YEAR: 1998-1999

Prepared by Jackie Mardikian and Team Leaders
June 23, 1999

Information Services Steering Group members   (NB ISSG) : September 1998
- June 1999

Chair, Jackie Mardikian
Information Services Coordinating Team, Leader, Ferris Olin
Training Team, Leader, Jackie Mardikian
Central Telephone Information Service Team, Leader, Pat Piermatti
Reference Collections Team, Leader, Ilona Caparros
Common Knowledge Database Team, Leader, Ron Jantz
Technical Support Liaison, Jia Mi

o Outlined responsibilities of the Steering Group who basically
coordinate and steer activities of information services throughout New
Brunswick  (Appendix 1)

o Defined our role, organizational communication structure with other
departments within NB and RUL.  The Chair of the NB ISSG became an
invited member of the Standing Advisory Committee on Public Services.
In this capacity, the Chair acted as the Liaison between SACOPS and the
NB ISSG and communicated relevant information about public services to
NB library faculty.

o Developed a new organizational structure for information services in
New Brunswick libraries with Functional Teams and Local Operations
Teams.  (See the NB Information Services Group Organization Chart
Appendix 2).

o The NB ISSG re-examined its organizational structure at several
meetings throughout the 9 months of its existence in order to determine
where we are going and how we are doing.  We tried to minimize the
number of teams and number of meetings whenever possible. After careful
assessment and re-evaluation of our teams, we proposed the following
changes for the NB ISSG Structure as of July 1999 - June 2001.  We
recommended flexibility in filling these positions, and suggested
co-team leaders instead of single team leaders if that seemed like a
more practical approach.  The Coordinating Team and the Training Team
will stay. The Central Telephone Team will remain functional for another
year until their report is completed.  After that they will fold in the
Coordinating Team. The Reference Collection Team will have a liaison
from the NB Collections Group.  Since many of the activities of the
Common Knowledge Database were being duplicated in the RUL WAC
committee, it made more sense to merge the activities of this team into
the WAC, and have a representative to the NB ISGG.  We included an RUL
Instruction Liaison to the NB ISSG in response to a decision made at one
NB Faculty Meeting.
 

In summery, this is what the proposed new structure will look like for
1999-2001:

Chair
Coordinating Team Leader
Training Team Leader
Central Telephone Services Team Leader
NB Collections Group Liaison for Reference
NB WAC Liaison
RUL and NB Technology
RUL Instruction Liaison

o Data gathering resulted in an "Information Services Questionnaire
Survey" which helped us in planning.

o With input from the Coordinating Team and the Local Operations
Liaisons, we prepared the voucher budget for 1998 and 1999.

o We agreed that instead of Local Heads/Coordinators of Reference, one
member from each of the four major libraries would be designated as the
Local Operations Liaison to the Coordinating Team.  This structure seems
to be working well.

o Wrote the job description for the open Library Associate II position
at Douglass.  We conceived it as primarily based at Douglass with some
NB wide information services responsibilities.

o Sent out a "call for join a team" for each of the functional teams and
developed a membership list.  (See Appendix 2). This needs to be done on
an annual basis, and as new faculty joins us, we need to invite them to
join the functional teams.

o Wrote an Implementation Planning Document. (See Appendix 3).

o We re-examined the staffing model proposed in the July 8, 1998
document entitled "Proposed Changes for NB Information Services."  Based
on reference statistics, the steering group decided that we are not
ready to move to the staffing model proposed in the July 8 document.
This needs to be re-examined as our reference
 

THE NBISG COORDINATING TEAM, TEAM LEADER, FERRIS OLIN

The Coordinating Team of the New Brunswick Information Services Group
(NBISG) spent the 1998-1999 year focusing on organizational issues,
primarily identifying and examining current practices based at
individual buildings in light of reorganization into one New Brunswick
Libraries group. NBISG was convened a year after all other NBL teams
were operational. This team, like the entire NBISG, was the last to be
organized, and yet, within a very short amount of time proved to be
quite productive. The list below outlines and details our activities:

· Team Membership: Initially, the team was conceived so that those who
served as heads/coordinators of reference in the pre-reorganization
period were to provide assistance to other team members through the
first year's work, a period of transition. However, due to various sets
of circumstances none of the former heads/coordinators were able to join
the team. It was decided that each building would select someone to be
the Local Operations Liaison, who would ensure that each building's
reference department ran smoothly and they would trouble shoot as
needed. Local Operations Liaisons were: Alexander Library- Ilona
Caparros, Douglass Library- Ferris Olin, (Team Leader),  Kilmer
Library-Jeris Cassel, and LSM- Connie Wu. In addition, the team included
Penny Page, representing branch library concerns; Stan Nash, who was on
leave; Joe Consoli, who acted as Douglass's Local Operations Liaison for
a short while in Spring term; and support staff members who worked in
Reference Departments, Kevin McGuire (Kilmer), Scott McMillan
(Douglass), and Uma Swamy (LSM). In looking at the coming year, we note
that there might be some changes among our membership and that there is
the difficulty of finding colleagues who could serve as local operations
liaisons. Next year's team leaders will be Jeris and Penny; while Scott
Hines will facilitate reference at LSM for the fall term.

· Data Collection: Throughout the year, the Team gathered information
about reference activities, primarily at the four larger libraries. (It
was decided to postpone investigation of the branch operations until
after we had been through one year together.) Initially, we surveyed the
libraries to learn about their hours of services, staffing of
information services desks (reference/information desks), types of
services provided, etc. (Jackie Mardikian and Ferris Olin also visited
with each former head/coordinator of reference, where possible, to
ascertain additional information for that original survey.) This helped
us to learn about one another's operations quickly and to identify areas
of common concern. We shared copies of each other's reference desk
schedules and determined that scheduling could only be done locally. We
exchanged copies of locally produced handouts and aids for patrons; at
least one of these about electronic resources, from the Kilmer Library
created by Leslie Murtha, is planned to become a RUL document. Other
data collected will be detailed below.

· Statistics: Much of our discussions focused on the collection of
reference statistics, asking fundamental questions about the reasons
they are collected, how they are reported, analyzed and used, the kinds
of data maintained, definitions of the reference vs. directional
queries, what consistency of practices existed in NBL, etc. We met with
Samson Soong and Jeanne Boyle to learn more about what happens to the
statistics once they are reported centrally and we looked at how the
data is gathered within each building. We initiated for spring term the
collection of data on reference/informational questions asked/answered
off the reference desk within NBL. That data will be tabulated,
reported, and examined in the next year. These are statistics that as
far as we could determine have not been recorded and may also impact on
the amount of services provided yet not quantified. We are developing a
New Brunswick-wide statistical form for keeping reference statistics.
 

· Hours: Kilmer Library began in November to again collect daily
reference statistics after only maintaining them for sampling days.
This data will be reviewed in light hours and types of services and
because of the recommendation to create an information desk there with
librarians available for consultations.  As a result of reviewing
reference statistics at LSM, Alexander, and at Douglass, reference desk
hours and coverage were changed to reflect the needs of each building
and its clientele. LSM changed its hours in the Spring term after
examining the previous year's data; while Douglass looked at statistics
collected for March and April and October and November, 1995-1998 and
changed their hours of service beginning on February 1 and following
Spring term. The Team also gathered reference statistics for special
times: Easter/Passover, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day and Thanksgiving
week-ends, reading periods and exam periods, and Winter and Spring
Breaks to see if staffing patterns and hours of services were
appropriate. It was decided that they were, but this topic should be
revisited in the coming year. In the late spring, we were able to
announce New Brunswick Libraries' reference hours, for the first time.
There is agreement that we wish to have reference services hours posted
for the entire year well enough in advance so that we don't disadvantage
patrons. We recommend that they be posted in each building, as well as
on the web site. This is something we will continue to work on.

· Voucher Allocations: Early in the fall, the NBISG Steering Committee
determined the voucher allocations for the four buildings. In early
Spring, each local operations liaison began receiving regular reports on
the spending of those funds and reviewed them to make sure that the
monies would fund their needs until June 30. We are in the process of
gathering data to allocate this coming fiscal year's monies.  As an
aside, it should be noted that we had an unusual year in that within NBL
one library garnered salary savings and two librarians received
compensation for teaching at SCILS. These additional monies were
distributed throughout NBL and did contribute to what seemed like a
surplus of monies at the end of the year.

· Hourly Wages: Related to Voucher Funds was the issue we discovered
that each reference department paid different amounts of hourly rates
for similar jobs.  After looking over the wages paid at each site, we
agreed that we must be consistent throughout NBL. An April 20 memo to
Ryoko outlined the guidelines we developed and she accepted the
standards set forth. She asked that we review these guidelines annually.

· New Brunswick Libraries Reference Manual: Some, but not all, of the
libraries maintained reference policy manuals in various states of
currency. The Team agreed that a New Brunswick Libraries Reference
Manual should be developed and maintained and posted to the Common
Knowledge Database. At this point, we have determined the sections it
would include, but not its text: NBL mission and goals, Ethics of
Service, Reference Services Objectives, Librarians, Reference
Statistics, Referrals between NBL and individual Reference/Information
Departments, Reference Collections, Reporting Technological Problems,
Determining Hours of Services, Reciprocal and Consortial Agreements, NBL
Organization/ relationship to other NBL teams/ RUL.

· Name: We raised the issue of what to call our departments, what we
do-reference, informational services, etc., but could not come to any
consensus on nomenclature.

· Staff as Team Members: The Coordinating Team is the only NBISG Team
that includes support staff as members. Throughout Spring Term the three
individuals who fall into this category, Kevin McGure, Scott McMillan,
and Uma Swamy met with Ferris Olin at Kilmer, LSM, and Douglass
libraries respectively to tour each others buildings, learn what each
one did, exchange information, and discuss issues of concern. They will
join the rest of the Team at its June 23 meeting. Both Kevin and Uma's
job descriptions were out-of-date and so each, in concert with their
respective local operations liaison, reviewed and revised them. This was
in preparation for their Performance Appraisals, which took place in
April. Scott joined RUL in February and so his job description was
current and he did not undergo a Performance Appraisal. However, he met
with his local operations liaison to plan for next year's review and to
develop guidelines for evaluating his performance. A special note of
thanks must be made here to Uma Swamy, who throughout this first
operational year of the Coordinating Team, provided assistance New
Brunswick-wide by developing mechanisms for tabulating reference and
other statistical data and created the New Brunswick Libraries Reference
Statistics Form. Without her effort, the Team would have had a difficult
time reviewing the amount of data already collected and making the
recommendations that it did. Her work serves as a model for the
reorganization within functional groups.

· On Call/ Roving Librarians: New Brunswick librarians were asked if any
would, on an emergency basis, be willing to cover reference at locations
other than the buildings they had been assigned. More than a handful
volunteered; though they were not called upon. On several occasions,
reference desks were unexpectedly closed, due to lack of personnel. The
Team will continue to discuss ways in which we can work to provide
coverage under such circumstances.

· Branch Libraries: The NBISG Coordinating Team decided early on that
they wished to include the branch libraries within their considerations.
Several times throughout the year as we attempted to gather data, we
were unsuccessful in getting information from some of the branch
libraries. Penny Page's presence on the team facilitated whatever
conversations we had about the branches and it is hoped that in the next
year, new initiatives which might take place will be inclusive of the
branches to a greater extent.

· Telephones: We have remained aware of the developments for a
centralized telephone reference system and await word of further news.
The Team, along with the NBISG Steering Committee, lent support to
Douglass' request for a new phone system- one that freed reference
librarians from the job of being "switchboard operators." In June, a new
voice-mail system was installed at the Douglass Library.

· Implementation Plan: Throughout the year we have discussed how best to
implement the recommendations approved last July by the NBL faculty for
a reorganized reference/information services. One joint meeting with the
NBISG Steering Committee was also held for discussion of this. Continued
discussion needs to be happen. However, the Douglass Library phased in
some of the recommendations by placing Information Assistants
(well-trained undergraduate work-study students) at an area of the
reference desk in the spring. Because of its success, the old reserve
desk there will be transformed this summer into an Information Desk,
staffed by such students in the next academic year; while the reference
desk will remain an area for librarians who can provide consultation and
reference assistance as needed.  In the coming year, these arrangements
should be evaluated and modified as needed. LSM and Kilmer will begin to
determine what accommodations they might make in the directions of the
recommendations.

TRAINING TEAM: TEAM LEADER, JACKIE MARDIKIAN

o Agreed that this team's main responsibility is for the coordination
for training of all library personnel involved in performing information
services in NB libraries

o Gathered orientation and training manuals from all NB libraries

o Agreed that this team will conduct the central basic training programs
in summer 1999 to prepare new work-study students, interns and library
assistants for the fall semester.  The local libraries with the
coordination of the Local Operations Liaisons will fine-tune the
training at the local level.

o Wrote an "Information Services Training Guide" which can serve as an
important reference tool at all RUL libraries, and can be used for basic
training of new staff serving at all reference desks.  This will be
mounted on the web as part of the Common Knowledge Database. (See
Appendix 4)

o As of July 1999, the position for the Training Team Leader is vacant.

o Identified some basic training reference staff needs such as
downloading and search engines.  At our last meeting of the year, we
identified and invited staff from NB libraries to begin discussion about
informal training.
 
 

NEW BRUNSWICK CENTRALIZED TELEPHONE INFORMATION SERVICE (NBCTIS): TEAM
LEADER,  PAT PIERMATTI

The NB Central Telephone Team has been meeting regularly and we are in
the process of  preparing our preliminary report.  You will be receiving a copy of
the preliminary report in early July.  Once the team has met with Brian
August and the Lucent representatives, the NB Central Telephone Team will be able
to incorporate the technological solution(s) and costs into the preliminary
report and make it a final report.

 REFERENCE COLLECTIONS TEAM: LEADER, ILONA CAPARROS

o Drafted a draft proposal for managing reference collection purchases
in New Brunswick

o Examined the allocation of funds for reference collections.

o Will work on identifying any superseded reference works that could be
withdrawn, with reliance on the CRL Collection for reference service.

o After reviewing activities of this team, it made more sense to have
this team meet as part of the NB Collections Group and assign a liaison
to NB ISSG.   Ilona Caparros is the NB Collections Group Liaison for
Reference.
 
o Prepared a proposal for managing the reference collection budget,
which will be presented at the June NB Collections Group meeting.

o The Libraries have begun sharing certain superseded editions with each
other.

COMMON KNOWLEDGE DATABASE TEAM (CKDB): TEAM LEADER, RON JANTZ

In summary, the CKDB team has produced a working prototype that will
soon be launched publicly.  Our objective has been to provide access to
hard-to-find information sources that are useful to librarians and
information assistants.  Our motto has been to "make the uncommon
common".  The CKDB should also help integrate information sources across
NB so librarians/information assistants know more about the special
information at other libraries.  At this point there are about 560
records in the CKDB.  We will soon be launching the CKDB publicly and
are working to merge with WAC.  Our specific accomplishments so far
include the following:

· Established goals for the CKDB, specifically to complement other
sources rather than be redundant and to direct the capability to info.
Assistants and librarians in NB.
· We surveyed NB faculty for their input as to what should be in the
CKDB.
· We discussed a number of architectural approaches and decided on using
the electronic rolodex approach that would provide searching across all
fields in the database and an alphabetical listing.
· We organized into subgroups that developed information on holdings,
secret databases, core reference, library directions, and staff
directories.  We are taking various actions on these sources, in some
cases requesting cataloging and in others, entering the required
information into the CKDB.
· A prototype was developed using FrontPage, ColdFusion, and an
MS-Access database.
· Members of the CKDB team provided input to the CKDB and we also built
on the records from an Alexander pre-existing database.
· The team agreed to merge with WAC since it made sense that the CKDB
become an RUL-wide resource.  This view was shared with ISSG, NB
Faculty, and WAC.  We are currently in discussions with Jeanne
Boyle/SACOPS on how best to proceed with this merger.
· We plan to announce the availability of CKDB in the summer, 1999 while
enlisting librarians at the various locations to continue to add records
and to help others learn how to use CKDB.