New Brunswick Library Faculty Meeting On the Subject of the Libraries Reorganization

Friday, July 28, 2006, 9:30 a.m.
Pane Room, Alexander Library, College Avenue Campus

Attendees: Ellen Calhoun, Jeris Cassel, Kayo Denda, Mary Fetzer, Judy Gardner, Rebecca Gardner, Sara Harrington (recorder), Karen Hartman, Bill Hemmig, Helen Hoffman, Marty Kesselman, Jim Niessen, Pat Piermatti, John Shepard, Jane Sloan, Eileen Stec, Farideh Tehrani, Roberta Tipton, Lourdes Vazquez, Ryan Womack, Connie Wu


Today's New Brunswick Library Faculty meeting is given over to a discussion and discovery session, led by Roberta Tipton and Jane Sloan, on the subject of the Rutgers University Libraries reorganization.

The following handouts were distributed: The minutes of the June 21, 2006 Planning and Coordinating Committee meeting, the current RUL reorganization chart, and the Faculty bylaws.

Reorganization documents can also be located off the Libraries homepage by following this pathway: About the Libraries / Staff Resources / Planning / Reports.

Meeting participants were referred to the June 21, 2006 Planning and Coordinating Committee minutes, authored by Tom Glynn, since these minutes include an initial discussion of the then- impending Libraries reorganization. During that meeting a round robin took place that resulted in the airing of interesting new ideas, and Roberta Tipton volunteered to chair a Working Group on Reorganization. Subsequently, the University Librarian decided, along with R. Tipton and Faculty Coordinator Jane Sloan, that the first step in the process would be a series of focus groups with library faculty.

This is an effort to engage everyone and collect new ideas. A September 22, 2006, special faculty meeting is planned to report what has been offered, then perhaps to explore the implementation of any potential changes.

Libraries' faculty and staff may now have different perspectives given that the reorganization, effective July 1, has already taken place. It was affirmed that any recommendations that emerge should be actively explored and evaluated at the September 22 faculty meeting. Indeed, there was some sentiment that if we are merely sharing thoughts and feelings rather than making concrete suggestions to improve the Libraries these sessions may not be productive. The faculty would like to have the sense that any recommendations that might emerge will be heeded and considered, rather than being, in the words of one participant, 'dispersed into cyberspace.' It was pointed out that it is the role of the faculty to contribute to long-range goals and planning, and that what we are now talking about is what faculty will do in response to, and as part of, the reorganized structure.

In a round robin discussion of issues, a few major thematic issues emerged:

The Council Structure

One suggestion that received significant support was to eliminate the current Council structure and instead form one large-scale Council that can make decisions and offer recommendations. This Council could also direct the formation of any task forces and teams that emerge. Such task forces and teams should draw upon the entire faculty pool, rather than Council members alone. Functional teams, composed of faculty and staff members, (such as WAC) might elect a team leader to serve on the larger Council with AULs and the UL. It was suggested that the formation and constitution of any new Council should be included in bylaws in order to ensure proper representation.

It was noted that part of the friction in the Councils' work is parallel tracks of administrative versus operational aspects. Given the multi-campus structure, it may be useful to flatten and simplify the organization of Councils, as there are currently too many channels of communication. It seems that faculty is not always 'on board' with, or aware of, the visions and missions of the various Councils. The utility of the new Council would therefore be to closely connect administrators and faculty members.

It was also acknowledged that there are multiple models for such a Council, and a number of questions emerged, such as, What is difference between this proposed Council and the Planning and Coordinating Committee? Would such a Council incorporate or share some of the functions of Cabinet?

Some expressed support for currently existing Council structure, but noted that given the fewer numbers of librarians at Newark and Camden, the current structure may be especially burdensome on these faculty members.

The Relationship between Faculty and Cabinet

Some noted that in some senses, everything that we do is an interim solution. Therefore, what we need is a flexible structure that empowers those at the lowest levels to make decisions and experiment. There should exist some policy and decision-making unit with which faculty might be involved, perhaps as part of Cabinet. Alternately, it would perhaps be useful to have a faculty member elected to serve on Cabinet.

The Role of Faculty and System-wide Thinking

Participants agreed that whatever we do, we need to include faculty from all three campuses and try to think in a system-wide manner. One participant noted that library faculty are by definition different from teaching faculty, who do not manage operational aspects. Faculty need to support the operational structure and ensure good communications among faculty bodies. Faculty must think also about their role in the Libraries, and ask themselves what self-governance means. There is some concern that the reorganization has resulted in a traditional structure that moves away from faculty independence and faculty self-governance. It seems that it is often difficult to get good ideas moving, or make even incremental changes. It would perhaps be useful to develop true faculty groups that discuss issues cross-campus. One person suggested that perhaps we could organize a once-a-semester meeting of faculty from all three campuses. It would have to be determined who could call such a meeting, and how we will conduct ongoing business and communicate about issues across the course of the year. Regardless of method, we must commit to seeking cross-fertilization of ideas and wider involvement.

Some noted that there are redundancy issues for some groups in the NBL structure that have traditionally functioned effectually, such as NBCG, with those in the RUL structure, such as CDC. More than one participant noted the need for an enhanced understanding of the role of NB librarians in the new reporting structure as the reorganization chart is necessarily devoid of nuances.

Additional Questions or Comments

Some additional questions and comments emerged.

Although position descriptions for some of the AUL positions have been written, there exist some questions about perceived potential duplications between AUL responsibilities, as well as about the scope of the responsibilities of the AUL for Organizational Planning and Research. Specifically, what relationship will exist between AUL for Organization Planning and Research and Planning Committee?

One participant suggested increased permanency in the team leader positions occupied by staff members.

This section of the meeting was adjourned at 11:25 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Sara Harrington

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