The Divisional Structure Task Force (DSTF) was established by the Executive Committee (EC) at its August 1, 2011 meeting. The membership roster was complete and the group began its work on September 1, 2011. DSTF’s charge was to evaluate the current divisional structure and make recommendations to increase its effectiveness and efficiency. The complete charge is provided in Appendix A. Minutes from the DSTF’s meetings are available online as well as notes from the open forums, a summary of the survey that was conducted, and the resource documents reviewed by the DSTF.
The DSTF solicited input and feedback throughout its work, using both in-person as well as virtual means of encouraging and facilitating participation.
The DSTF charge directed the Task Force to consult with a number of groups. In discussing the process of consultation, the DSTF decided to consult as broadly as possible with groups across the Library and selected the open forum model to allow for input as well as conversation around the topic of divisional structure and effectiveness.
Open forums were held with the following groups:
Appendix B contains the script used to facilitate the open forum sessions including lists of the handouts provided, discussion questions, etc. Notes from all of the open forums are available online. Some people fit into more than one group and were encouraged to come to as many open forums as they would like. Thirty-seven people participated in at least one open forum and of those three participated in two open forums. Three to five members of the DSTF were present at each open forum except one for which only two DSTF members were available.
In addition to the open forums, the DSTF extended an offer to meet with any group that asked for a meeting. Following a request, members of the DSTF met with the University Librarian and the Associate University Librarians on November 7, 2011. This meeting followed the same structure as the open forums. Task Force members also discussed the possibility of division mergers with the Physical Sciences and Engineering, Life Sciences, and International and Area Studies divisions.
In addition to the open forums, the DSTF sought to ensure an opportunity for participation for those not comfortable speaking publicly and/or those who were unable to attend an open forum. Invitations to complete the survey were distributed through LIBNEWS-L and responses were gathered November 1- 14, 2011. The survey questions and all of the collected responses are available online.
A draft of this report was distributed for comment via LIBNEWS-L on January 30, 2012 along with a link for providing feedback through a web form. The draft report was also discussed at the Library Faculty Meeting on February 1, 2012. In addition, e-mailed comments were received from two faculty members as well as a notice that the International and Area Studies Division had reviewed and endorsed the draft.
The Task Force reviewed the organizational structures of research libraries at other institutions, including all CIC institutions as well as University of Texas-Austin, University of California-Berkley, University of Illinois-Chicago, and University of Toronto. The Task Force also reviewed documents related to the restructuring of the libraries at Harvard University. The committee discussed the library organizational structures of five CIC institutions (University of Michigan, Indiana University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, and University of Wisconsin-Madison) in greater detail because they most closely resemble UIUC in terms of ARL statistics as calculated on the basis of staffing, service points, and reference and circulation transactions.
Not all institutions make organizational structure details publicly available and in many cases individual Task Force members used personal contacts to seek information beyond what was posted on websites. Complete information could not be acquired in all cases.
Although the Task Force found the process of reviewing other library structures informative and in some cases engaging, the utility of the information gathered was limited. Differences in the employee-type, status of librarians, supervisory authority of associate university librarian/associate dean positions, role and authority of committees, and average size of library units contributed to limits on the utility of other institutions’ structures in the Task Force’s deliberations.
In addition to documents related to other institutions, the Task Force also reviewed the University Statutes, Library Bylaws, Provost Communications on tenure and promotion, and relevant sections of minutes from the Administrative Council’s meeting on June 20, 2011 and the Library Faculty meeting on July 20, 2011. Charges and membership composition for committees with divisional representation (i.e., Collection Development Committee and the Faculty Review Committee) were also reviewed.
What follows are the repeated themes and salient ideas noted and discussed during the Task Force’s investigations, open forums, and survey responses. There is a wide variety of opinions and perspectives about the divisions, their purpose and value, and their effectiveness. The findings reported here are those that emerged as a consensus viewpoint.
People are generally happy with the division structure. The division structure has proven to be a flexible one that has enabled the Library to manage through times of great change and uncertainty. Many people had recommendations for improving the effectiveness of operations within the structure but the structure itself was repeatedly affirmed in the open forums and other feedback opportunities.
Library faculty noted that the current system affords opportunities for seeking and establishing affinities with others within a given division as well as across divisions. This structure also creates a supportive environment for completing one’s librarianship work, enables communications, and humanizes the experience of working in the large and complex University Library system. Some tenure-track faculty found their divisions extremely supportive in their progress toward tenure, but this experience is not uniform.
The Task Force explored alternative structural options during the open forums including the complete elimination of the division-level structure thereby flattening the organization further, a return to the previous structure of statutorily-defined departments, and the conversion of division coordinators into supervising administrators thereby creating greater organizational hierarchy. Also discussed in the open forums was a concept of having individuals affiliate with a division of choice rather than divisions being structured through unit membership. None of these alternative models offered sufficient benefits to outweigh the time and effort required to transition to and implement a new model, at least in the current difficult budget environment, nor did any of the alternative models garner a consensus in the open forums.
Great appreciation was expressed for those individuals who take upon themselves the additional work of serving as division coordinators. There was also an affirmation for continuation of the division coordinator stipend and graduate assistant assignment to provide incentives for those accepting this responsibility. There is confusion, however, and at times dissatisfaction with the perceived vast variation among division coordinators – both when comparing among divisions as well as within a given division. As previously mentioned, the idea of division coordinators transitioning into supervising administrators was also discussed at the open forums but there was strong and consistent opposition to this idea from both division coordinators and division members alike.
The Task Force was unable to locate a comprehensive and authoritative list of library units. The Library’s organizational chart raised more questions than it answered since it also seems to confuse organizational structure and service delivery in places. The upcoming New Service Model implementations may well only exacerbate this problem. Moreover, the Task Force was unable to determine which position or body has the authority to define “library unit.” Correlated with this was the inability to locate a definitive list of unit heads.
As stated in the Library Bylaws the AC’s purpose is:
The Administrative Council shall serve as an advisory body to the University Librarian with regard to the promulgation and implementation of standards, regulations and procedures that relate to the general operating policies of the Library and such other advisory functions as may be assigned or delegated to it by the University Librarian. The primary responsibility of the Administrative Council shall be the day-to-day management of the Library. VII.1.B.1.a
There was strong consensus that AC can be valuable and worthwhile, but all parties – librarians, division coordinators, and administrators – are dissatisfied with its actual functioning. Various causes were identified in the open forums including lack of communication, lack of participation, encroachment of the Budget Group on AC responsibilities, and confusion about roles and responsibilities.
The following recommendations are based on the findings reported above as well as more specific ideas discussed in the open forums, the Task Force’s meeting with administration, the results from the anonymous survey, and the Task Force’s own deliberation over all of these findings.
Although the Task Force affirms the division structure, it heard a resounding plea for improved communication throughout the Library across all library employee groups. The ideas that emerged for improving communication across the Library largely parallel those detailed in the “Improved Communications Position Paper” and “Themes from Faculty Governance White Papers.” However, in the case of the DSTF’s investigations, comments reflected increased attention to improving communication with and via AC. The Task Force appreciates the practices that were implemented from the Shared Governance documents and recommends further adoption of their recommendations on communication. The Task Force found that staff and academic professionals remain outside the realm of the division-based communication mechanisms and thus are often not aware of Library priorities, practices, and policies; however, the Task Force believes that this is best dealt with at the unit level rather than as part of the divisional structure.
Feedback in the open forums indicated not only a general need for improved communication but also the need for better communication in specific areas in order to improve division functioning and contributions to the Library. The Budget Group (which is addressed in a separate recommendation), Content Access Policy & Technology Committee (CAPT), and the Advisory Committee to the University Librarian for Services (SAC) were particularly singled out in the discussions. Although some advocated for CAPT and SAC to have divisional representatives, others suggested specific practices that would improve communication without changing the committee membership. The Task Force sees value in divisions being better able to engage the important issues with which CAPT and SAC are charged but is hesitant to recommend burdening the Library with committees that become so large as to be unwieldy. Alternatively, the Task Force recommends that CAPT improve consistency in posting its agendas to the committee’s website but even more importantly that its meeting minutes be made available to the Library as a whole. The Task Force believes this will address the need for improved communication without further expanding CAPT’s already large membership. The dissatisfaction with SAC’s communication is more difficult to address because SAC already posts minutes to its website; in this case, the Task Force recommends that the interim Associate University Librarian for Services engage divisions on best practices for communications in this area once she/he is appointed.
The Task Force confirms the role of the division coordinators as described in the Library Bylaws:
Divisional coordinators will be responsible for holding regular meetings of the division, seeking advice and consent from their division in matters affecting the division, coordinating the activities of their division, assuring the implementation of general library policies and procedures, and reporting regularly on the activities of the division and keeping their division fully informed of decisions made by the Administrative Council. (VI.3.C.2)
However, operational attention is needed to address the great variation in how division coordinators exercise their responsibilities. To ensure that division coordinators are fully apprised of their responsibilities and supported in developing and sharing best practices in division leadership, the Library should begin a program of annual training for division coordinators, analogous to the training provided for EC members. It should include training on expectations for communication and leadership within a coordinator’s division and on the current role of the division in the tenure and promotion process. Division coordinators should also communicate with division members about their roles and responsibilities to avoid members having expectations that are outside of the scope of the division coordinator’s responsibilities.
Division advisory committees are responsible for division coordinator evaluation, which informs the University Library’s decision in appointing the division coordinators. The Task Force affirms this requirement as stipulated in the Library Bylaws and stresses that the evaluation is equally important when a division coordinator is being recommended for re-appointment and when a coordinator’s term is ending without re-appointment.
Given the inconsistencies in the support tenure-track faculty report experiencing within their divisions, with some perception that these differences stem from varying approaches to the division coordinator’s role, the Task Force advises against increasing division responsibilities for tenure and promotion processes. Only after division coordinator training is implemented and assessed for effectiveness in improving consistency should a change that increases division responsibility in the promotion and tenure process be considered.
The University Librarian and the Executive Committee should determine how a definition of a library unit can be brought about and then apply the definition to create a comprehensive and authoritative list of library units and, in doing so, a list of unit heads. The Library’s organizational chart should also be brought into alignment with this information.
The Administrative Council should meet consistently, and each meeting should have an agenda posted to the AC website that reflects the range of AC’s responsibilities as detailed in the Library Bylaws. Information items should be sent by email rather than waiting for an in-person meeting and LIBNEWS-L should be used whenever possible to minimize forwarding and ensure uniform access to information across library employee types. The focus of the in-person AC meetings should be discussion and decision-making. Minutes should be made available as soon as they are approved and disseminated throughout the Library in a timely manner.
In addition, on a rotating basis throughout the year, each AUL should lead a “current initiatives discussion” about their area of responsibility to ensure all divisions have an opportunity at AC to provide input and ideas for initiative development. Each AUL should be leading an AC discussion at least once per semester, but quarterly is advised because initiatives develop and change so quickly. These discussions would complement the “AUL Updates” emails that report on AUL activities to the Library as a whole.
The role of the Library Budget Group relative to AC is a source of confusion and the Budget Group is perceived as having displaced the AC’s role in handling day-to-day issues over the past five-six years. Previously, the relationship between the Budget Group and AC was more collaboratively and mutually engaging. The minutes of the November 18, 2002 meeting  and the May 17, 2004 meeting  exemplify the kind of engagement in budgeting that AC had previously exercised. The Task Force acknowledges that the Budget Group has contributed in valuable ways to the Library’s planning processes; however, the “aura of exclusivity and opacity” documented in 2010  continues today.
The Task Force urges that the mandate and membership of the Budget Group be reviewed and articulated and that its scope of authority relative to the authority of EC and AC be delineated and then incorporated into the Library Bylaws to ensure shared understanding of the scope and purpose of each group and improved organizational effectiveness.
Feedback received from members of PSED and LSD indicates that they would like to be merged officially. They are already working together unofficially to a great degree. Such a merger is consistent with the current divisional structure and so the Task Force commends the two divisions for their proposal. The Task Force also finds that the preference of the International and Area Studies Division to remain as presently constituted is consistent with the divisional structure recommendations of the Task Force.
The DSTF members wish to thank Marquita Miller in the University Librarian’s Office for her assistance with scheduling our meetings as well as the open forums. Appreciation also goes to Emma Clausen, Information Literacy Graduate Assistant, who developed the DSTF website, documented the open forums and meetings with great attention to detail, and managed the DSTF’s workspace on the g:/ drive.
Appendix A: Divisional Structure Task Force Charge and Membership
Charge: Given the changes in size and structure of several library units and the reduced size of the library faculty, it is important to reduce the burden of meetings and duties that are currently attached to divisions and division coordinators while preserving the ability of librarians and library staff to work with their colleagues serving similar disciplinary areas. The Divisional Structure Task Force is charged to evaluate the current divisional structure and make recommendations that increase its effectiveness and efficiency.
Specifically, the Divisional Structure Task Force is charged to accomplish the following:
1. Review the current state of divisions in the Library, including ways that they function effectively as well as the challenges that they face.
2. Determine which of the roles the divisions currently play should stay with the divisions, and which might be better done elsewhere in our organization.
3. Examine possible new roles for divisions.
4. Submit a report by February 17, 2012 that makes recommendations to the Library Executive Committee about the future of divisions in the Library and, if necessary, outlines a new model in detail.
In carrying out its charge, the Task Force should:
1. Check University Statutes related to the compositions of colleges and related to promotion and tenure roles of the colleges, and be aware of the constraints of campus and university rules on how the library’s divisions are configured and the roles that they play in administration and governance of the library, particularly with regards to shared governance.
2. Review the library’s documentation on divisions. These include:
Minutes from July 2011 faculty meeting
3. Consult with the following groups, as well as other groups as deemed necessary by the Task Force, about the role of divisions in their sense of community and participation in the administration and governance of the Library:
4. Be aware of how similar libraries are organized, particularly but not limited to other CIC libraries where librarians are faculty, and of the previous divisional models within the library
5. Discuss the implications of any proposed changes to divisions on library committees with divisional representation and, in consultation with those committees, include recommendations about the composition of those committees
Membership: Lisa Hinchliffe (chair), Paula Carns, Tina Chrzastowski, Carissa Phillips, Sheila McGowan, William Maher
Appendix B: Open Forum Outline
An outline was developed to ensure a fair and consistent process across all open forum sessions. The outline and indication of the handouts that were distributed appears below.
An outline was developed to ensure a fair and consistent process across all open forum sessions. The outline and indication of the handouts that were distributed appears below.
1. Welcome and Open Forum Overview
2. University Library Structure
1. Specific Questions
What has changed since the division structure was implemented in 1993? E.g., changes in technology and communication channels, changes in number and type of employees, etc.?
If we did not have a structure, what principles would be the foundation of an ideal structure? E.g., facilitates communication, minimizes hierarchy, etc.
What are the strengths of the current divisional structure?
What are the weaknesses of the current divisional structure?
If you could create any system, what would you create?
2. Open Discussion (If Time Allows)
4. Next Steps