Newark Library Faculty Meeting on the subject of the Libraries' Reorganization

Monday, August 7, 2006, 1 p.m.
Robeson Center, Room 224, Newark Campus

Attendees: Natalie Borisovets, Veronica Calderhead, Sara Harrington (recorder), Jane Sloan, Roberta Tipton, Ann Watkins, Jingfeng Xia


Today's 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. A related website can be found by following this pathway: Libraries homepage / About the Libraries / Staff Resources / Library Faculty.

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. 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.

R. Tipton began the meeting by inviting participants to participate in a round-robin discussion structured around the following questions: What do you think is missing in the reorganization? What would you like to see? What is not happening that you want to happen? R. Tipton invited attendees to raise any other questions or issues that they might be interested in discussing.

There was some preliminary discussion about how and when the Planning Committee merged with the Coordinating Committee. R. Tipton provided background on the merging of the two groups. It was noted that the function of the Planning portion of the Committee is to advise the University Librarian about longer-range issues including program priorities, faculty lines, and long-range planning.

As discussion continued, it was noted that the idea for this series of "reorganization meetings" emerged from a need to have faculty members discuss faculty structure in the face of the administrative reorganization. While it is not mandatory for the faculty to reorganize itself because of a change in administration, in this case, the July 1 reorganization of the Libraries' administration has outdated certain references in the faculty bylaws.

Meeting attendees raised a number of concerns, including:

The questions, and others, seemed to relate to a host of larger issues, including:

Participants agreed that it is a strength that we function as a library system, hence we must seek consistency across the Libraries. At the same time, as Newark and Camden faculty members often feel outnumbered and outvoted, it remains important to recognize the distinct cultures and needs of the different campuses.

As in other venues, there was an engaged discussion of the efficacy of the current Council structure. Traditionally, some remarked, the Councils have functioned effectively because all of the AULs sitting on Cabinet have attended all of the Council meetings, bringing with them the perspectives of their own groups and areas. These varying perspectives have been helpful. The Councils also serve a purpose in that they allow faculty and administrators to connect with one another. In general, it is believed that the more dialogue we have the better we work together as a faculty. The Councils can serve as one pathway through which information is shared between faculty and Cabinet, since the Councils include both members of the faculty and Cabinet.

The discussion continued with an examination of the newly delineated AUL positions, such as AUL for Facilities Management and Development. It was asked what groups do or should report to these positions. Will the new position of AUL for Instructional and Research Services, or the vacant AUL for Administrative Services, be posted?

There was also some exploration of how the internal New Brunswick-based faculty bodies, such as New Brunswick Libraries Faculty and New Brunswick Collections Group, function. Some see it as a way for New Brunswick to lend one voice to a representative who then attends Councils or other groups. Others praised the overall efficacy of the functional groups run by staff. Functional groups, once centered in New Brunswick, have been made into system-wide entities. These groups address concerns that they observe. The same issues tend to affect all three campuses; however, in the functional groups local practices and differing needs are recognized and respected. Some participants did express concerns over the organization and direction of technical services operations.

The participants also asked how faculty meeting agendas are composed. J. Sloan reported that the agenda is set in a pre-meeting between the University Librarian, Faculty Coordinator, and Deputy Faculty Coordinator. Planning and Coordinating Committee meeting agendas are set in the same fashion.

Some questioned if the faculty as a whole has issues that they should discuss together, perhaps without administrators present. Yet how will the faculty share concerns with the administration if administrators are absent? It was agreed that the people who need to hear messages should be present in any given context, but if they are, some worry that faculty members will not speak freely. It was further noted that venue is quite important in these matters. It was felt that the current venue for faculty meetings, the TLH, is not a space that fosters dialogue. Gradually, the potential idea of a faculty caucus emerged. This was inspired by the faculty caucus conducted by the Senate, and is viewed as an opportunity for information sharing between faculty members prior to a faculty meeting. It was believed that such 'development work' before faculty meetings might improve communication in meetings themselves.

Some meeting participants noted that outside of faculty meetings, email is a useful venue for the free exchange of ideas. In the past, some open-ended email discussions have been curtailed. Additionally, there is some sensitivity about email overload, and hence, hesitancy on the part of some to regularly use listservs. Many meeting members wanted to assert that the use of email to promote a culture of open dialogue should be encouraged.

The meeting was adjourned 3:29 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Sara Harrington

Last updated: September 6, 2006
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