Validation Process Focus Group Reports
Rutgers University Libraries Faculty and Staff Academic Excellence Quality Indicators Focus Group Results

Library Assessment Committee Members: Susan J. Beck, Chair, Judy Gardner, Nancy Hendrickson, Ann Montanaro, Gary Golden, LAC Cabinet Liaison

The Rutgers University Libraries' Library Assessment Committee conducted focus groups with library faculty and staff on each campus during October and November 2004. This was part of the process to validate the criteria for the Library's Academic Excellence Quality Indicators.

This report presents the responses from the Library Faculty and Staff resulting from those focus groups. Although the initial use of the information was to validate the Library's Academic Excellence Quality Indicators, the committee believes that the resulting information should be shared with all as it has far wider implications for the Libraries than just for use in the development of the Indicators.

At each focus group, each participant was given a list of the questions. Issues discussed included: organizational climate, computing, work environment, access to learning, and recognition.

At the conclusion of the each focus group, individuals were asked to complete a survey ranking the Academic Excellence Quality Indicators in terms of their importance and value to them as RUL faculty and staff members. Forty-nine individuals completed the surveys. As you can see from the Table 1, Library faculty and staff ranked Organizational Climate as the Indicator that was most important to them.

The Committee recommends the Libraries conduct an Organizational Climate Inventory as soon as possible to identify specific faculty and staff concerns.

Table 1. Rutgers University Libraries Cumulative Rankings

Academic Quality Excellence IndicatorsRUL (N=49)
Organizational Climate12.85
Institutional Support23.81
Access To Appropriate Computing Equipment34.22
Access to Learning & Development Activities54.61
Personal Safety64.87
Systems Availability75.1
Physical Plant Security85.4
Scale: 1=most important    8=least important  

Definition of survey terms

Due to the diversity of the library system and the unique library environments, priorities varied among the respondents at each campus. Table 2 reports the comparative Indicator rankings by campus.

Table 2. Rankings by Campus

Academic Quality Excellence IndicatorsUL (N=49)Camden (N=18)New (N=11)NB (N=20)
Organizational Climate1131
Institutional Support2512
Access To Appropriate Computing Equipment3244
Access to Learning & Development Activities537 (tie)3
Personal Safety6627
Systems Availability747 (tie)6
Physical Plant Security8758
Scale: 1=most important    8=least important    

The responses from individual questions asked in the focus group follows. The first focus group was held in Camden. The focus group questions were evaluated and revised. Responses are presented here first with the questions that were asked on all three campuses. Responses are synthesized for some questions for all respondents. Depending on the question, some responses are presented by individual campus. The unique questions asked at Camden complete the report.

1. What makes the libraries a good place to work?

Employees identified these factors as contributing to a good work place:

2. Are you recognized/rewarded for your work? How would you like to be recognized/rewarded for the quality of work you do?

Are you recognized/rewarded for your work?

Most participants believe they are respected and recognized for the jobs they do. One employee said:" Best job in my entire life. Supported, respected and appreciates the freedom it allows" Another individual praised the administration in their library for the emotional support and compassion they received when dealing with an individual personal family crises.

Employees take pride in recognition for doing a good job. They are particularly pleased with recognition from faculty and students. Library faculty and staff are aware that library services receive high satisfaction ratings in campus exit interviews of graduating students.

However one employee expressed the opinion that they "felt appreciated by faculty who use our services but do not feel appreciated by the library." Another indicated they were "seldom recognized". Another said: "Recognition? This seems to get lost in translation or when filtered down/up the pecking order."

One person said: "When people do the work there is often no one there to recognize that they are doing a good job. "

How would you like to be recognized/rewarded for the quality of work you do?

As to be expected, there was a fair share of individuals who wanted to be financially rewarded for their work and indicated: "more money would be nice".

Library faculty and staff want to be recognized for the work they do by both their supervisors and their peers. They also want to receive both verbal and written praise. One staff person said: It might be nice to have a written evaluation of documentation of a job well done, so it could be used as evidence of self worth. Another echoed the same refrain with this comment: "It might be nice to have someone say and write that you do a great job".

Participants identified the following types of rewards:

Suggestions for Improvement of the Rewards System

Participants cited the following:

3. Do you feel personally safe working in the libraries? Can you describe any safety concerns you have working for the libraries?

Safety concerns varied by geographic location and will be described in that way. Faculty and staff in the urban area libraries expressed the greatest concerns. New Brunswick librarians and staff had few comments on safety.

Camden - Paul Robeson Library

In Camden, as to be expected in the "most dangerous city in America" both faculty and staff have serious safety concerns. Although one individual relayed she did not feel threatened at all - "its Camden you are supposed to keep your eyes open". This was a minority opinion.

Faculty and staff voiced these concerns:

Criticism was expressed about the security guard's behaviors. Concerns included the fact that the security guards do not always check ids and some security guards leave their station and watch the front door while using nearby computer workstations.

Suggestions for improved safety in the building as related to security guards included:

Other safety suggestions included:

Newark - Dana Library

Individuals indicated that working with the public can sometimes be challenging. One individual said: "There are crazy people - students and public alike". Another said: "Patrons are a concern."

Safety Concerns were expressed for people who worked nights and weekends, and specifically those who work in Tech Services.

Although one person indicated that they never feel unsafe and always feels personally comfortable, many individuals would like more security presence. Many indicated they would like and need a security guard. Others indicated that: Police don't come in often enough and [we] "need increased and regular campus police presence in the building over the day."

Individuals indicated they were "concerned for student safety in the stacks" and there needed to be an evaluation of stack safety.

Safety suggestions included:

New Brunswick Libraries

Safety was not a hot issue for the New Brunswick faculty and staff as evidenced by the lack of comments when compared to the other campuses.

Individuals identified specific locations where they had safety concerns.

Other issues

4. Are you satisfied with your physical work environment? Can you describe any concerns you have about your physical work environment?

Again this is a question that needs described by library or campus when that information is provided.

Camden - Paul Robeson Library

Newark - Dana Library

Temperature varies from one part of the building to another

New Brunswick Libraries

ADA Issues

5. Can you identify any barriers within the libraries which impact your work?



Basic Communication Issues

  • There is a lack of communication between departments and who is in charge - this refers to departments outside of the library BUT on campus
  • Different groups don't discuss things among different groups
  • We are going to share things but not everything and not always the right things
  • A new employee believes they are not yet on all the right listservs

Interaction among Campuses

  • Interaction with other campuses seems to be improving
  • There are some communication issues among campuses

Phone Systems

  • Phone systems varies from library to library
  • Telephones don't call out of the 973 area code
  • Communicating - tie line problems
  • Phone system in New Brunswick - it is difficult to get through to people - or a real person/Impossible to find a person in New Brunswick

University Telephone Directory

  • Need new version of University Telephone Directory
  • Need larger print in Directory


  • Teleconferencing doesn't always work for meetings, where the most people are controls the meeting
  • Advantages and disadvantages to videoconferencing


Faculty/Staff Barriers

There is a barrier between library faculty and staff in the libraries






  • The university bureaucracy can be daunting and at times real be a roadblock to both staff and patrons. The university needs to develop a more "friendly.... we are here to help or we are here to serve" attitude. Too often we get complacent and take a lack-a-daisical view of our patrons needs or even other staff members needs. Some units have become very insensitive toward the public and their unit peers due to heavy workloads or poor training or etc.

Political process

  • There is a lot of committee work but not a lot of decisions made
  • There is a lot of need to get sign off [approval] to pursue new opportunities
  • Sometimes individuals need to wait for other groups or individuals to finish some portion of work before they can do their responsibilities
  • Being on a lot of committee can sometimes benefit people

Unit Perspective

  • Sometimes a unit perspective can be a barrier (as opposed to a system wide perspective)
  • Librarians in Alex don't get involved or feel it is necessary to participate in system wide activities (this was said by an Alex librarian)



Psychological Stress

Remote Access [resolved]

Training in Adaptive Technology

Trust, respect and autonomy among colleagues

6. What kind of learning and development activities would help you perform your current and future work responsibilities?

Individuals identified the need for the following types of learning activities:

Positive Feedback and Recognition Workshops

Email Training

Operating System Training

Content Management Software Training

Writing Workshops

Presentation Workshops

Videoconferencing etiquette

Individuals Identified these issues as Barriers to Learning


Equal Access to Education Opportunities

Geography and Transportation

Need for Privacy, confidentiality, respect & discretion at training sessions

Need Practice and Thinking time after training



Suggestions for New Opportunities:

Other Concerns

Web Pages

  • Librarians should control of their own web pages - trained individuals feel they are loosing their skills to maintain web pages if they do not use software they have been trained to use.

Personal Growth

  • Alerting employees of personal growth opportunities - such as concerts and art exhibits are positive.

7. What kind of computing & systems (hardware/software/systems) needs do you have that are not currently being met?




Skill Development & Training Needs

Need to Automate Routine Staff Activities

Public Access Machines

Personal Needs

8. After looking over the Academic Excellence Quality Indicator's for the libraries, do you think there is anything missing? Would you like to add anything?

Added Value

9. What would you look for if you were interviewing for a perfect job in an excellent library? What qualities would indicate that this library is doing an excellent job and therefore you would want to work for this library?

After the first Brown Bag Lunch in Camden, the questions were evaluated and revised. This section represents the unique questions and responses asked during the Focus Groups at Camden.

10. What does the library do that most benefits the university?

11. How can we make the libraries a better place for you to work?

12. What is important to you as an employee?

13. Does Rutgers support its libraries adequately? What additional support is needed? Let's assume that the number one thing is more money---what else?

14. If you were creating measures for evaluating the impact of the libraries on you, what measures do you think would be important?

15. Of the measures you identified which is the most important?

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