Information Services Group
Coordinating Team
Annual Report
1998-1999

 
 

    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 others' 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
    concensus 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.
 

6/19/99
Ferris Olin, Team Leader
New Brunswick Information Services Group, Coordinating Team