Library Committee Handbook

Open Forum Notes – Untenured Faculty

Open Forum Notes – Untenured Faculty

Divisional Structure Task Force
University of Illinois Library

October 3, 2011

Library 428


Kelly McCusker
Adriana Cuervo
Kirstin Dougan
Chatham Ewing
Sarah Williams

Members Present:

Lisa Hinchliffe (chair)
Bill Maher
Sheila McGowan
Carissa Phillips

Also Attending:

Emma Clausen (Information Literacy GA)

1. Welcome and Attendee Introductions

The goal of the feedback session is to come out with as many ideas as possible. The forum is a brainstorming and discussion session where all ideas are welcome and creativity is encouraged.

2. Review the relevant excerpts from the Library Statutes and Bylaws.

Our division structure is not stipulated by University Statutes; our structure is created by the Library Bylaws. There are things that divisions do that are not demanded by the Bylaws. The Library Bylaws require that divisions create their own bylaws.

3. Previous Structure in a Nutshell – Two Departments and Subject Councils

Our current divisional structure was instituted in the Library Bylaws initially adopted in 1993. What we have right now is how we have organized ourselves to be governed. This task force will make a recommendation for any changes in the Bylaws. We’re tasked with a lot of thinking. There will also be recommendations that will be more operational in nature such as posting a listing of the faculty in each division on the staff website.

4. Discussion

a. 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.?

Electronic communication is ubiquitous. Why are we having human beings going to a room to hear a report and then coming back and to report?

It’s a good idea to put things into digital form, but we risk information overload; there’s so much coming across the transom at once that it is sometimes hard to figure out what needs attention.

How are librarians outside of the Main Library involved in discussions?

There may be unequal-ness in how a division representative reports back.

Are you in the Main Library or not? Sometimes communication depends on if you are able to run into a person. We have to figure out on our own what is going on.

It’s clearly a strong perception that people outside the Main Library are disconnected. Does the divisional structure help or hinder that?

Plenty of people have that perception. There are also people in the Main Library that feel that they are not informed.

b. What are the weaknesses of the current divisional structure?

It feels like there are parallel and competing structures: one from EC and one from AC. It is unclear where the decision making lies and where we go for support. The committees are also treated differently even when dealing with overlapping issues – CAPT (Content Access Policy & Technology) does not have divisional representation but  CDC (Collection Development Committee) does.  Yet, both are making decisions about collections.

Despite there being mechanisms that would allow us to communicate more broadly, there is fundamental decision making that is not being shared. In particular, decision making with regards to budgets and monetary concerns.

CAPT does not have divisional representation. No one from my division is on there and so we don’t know what’s going on and don’t have any way to influence or even participate in the discussions.

There are a lot of decisions is driven by fiscal situation. How would we restructure? Are we looking at anything as radical as what The University of Arizona does, like team structures? How do we get Faculty to participate in the governance?

We are not examining unit structure; we are investigating divisional structure. After our investigation, we could recommend to EC that unit structure is also reviewed. While unit structure could be raised as a concern, it is not within the scope of this task force.

Could we go back to the charge? As part of the untenured group, how is my division part of my tenure process? What impact does my division have on my tenure?

There are a few things in our procedures. One of member of the Peer Review Committee (PRC) is to be from your division, though this is not always the case. The division does make recommendations for internal and external reviewers. There are places where divisions come into play when it’s a question of promotion to full professor. There are things that are in our procedures and not policies. In cases of reviewers, the division has a recommending role, not a decision making role. EC makes the decision about who will be the reviewers.

There are two committees that have divisional representation. Faculty Review Committee (FRC) and the CDC. These two are in the Bylaws.

Examples of Faculty Committees are FRC, Promotion and Tenure Advisory Committee (PTA), CDC, Nominations, Elections, and Voting Procedures (NEVP), and the Mortenson Center Advisory Committee-these are written into the Bylaws. 

PRC is another place where divisional structure is an artifice. Just because someone happens to be in my division does not mean it is the best fit.

The EC determines who is on the PRC. When EC does that they look at who could handle being on a PRC.

With how the divisions are set up there’s no natural sharing. We manage to work around it.

At minimum the divisional structure might not be facilitating information sharing but egregiously and unfortunately it might be putting up barriers.

One question is educational policy and how it relates to collections. Our other role is artificial—our collection is so much more than the stacks and books. There are different groups of people talking about the collection in different rooms. The way things are available for purchase isn’t necessarily tied to a particular subject when we are considering journal packages. It is not just the subjects but the way that things are available.

The issue of mediation. Even if division coordinators are discussing with people in the division, we don’t all get the same version of what we’re discussing. Two divisions may be discussing the same issue.  Even if they are discussing the same issue, each division coordinator has to repeat what was said at AC and, due to the nature of oral communication, we don’t all hear the same information.

Instead of divisional meetings, we should meet together if it’s a common issue. It would be nice to have it all discussed at the same time.

I tend to value the smaller conversations.

The question is do we have the correct balance between larger and smaller meetings? It is a key question that seems obvious in a way.

Benefit of divisional meetings with regard to managing collections—we all have the same issue with collections and management of collections.

Or, maybe we don’t. May have more in common with people outside of the division.

We need to group ourselves in a specific way. Special collections do not purchase things. We seek out donations. We value the administrative change communication. Sending back comments and concerns about how changes and policies affect our daily work.

c. If we did not have a structure, what principles would be the foundation of an ideal structure? E.g., facilitates communication, minimizes hierarchy, etc.

We would want a structure that would allow for an easy flow of communication with large and small meetings within the Library.

Appoint people to PRC that are likely to be invested in the faculty member’s work and knowledge about research interests, not just in a similar subject.

Given the size of our organization, if we are creating a new structure, doing everything with the group as a whole is not going to work.

It’s somewhat a matter of size and scale. The divisions provide one way for the largeness of the organization to be manageable.

Let’s take another example of Web-Scale Discovery services. I don’t know about how far they are. No one has come to talk to me. Who do I contact? It’s often hard to know what entity is dealing with what issues.

Do you go to the division or someone within your own division? As we rethink this divisionally, how do we talk to units at once? This is a complex of problems that we’re trying to solve.

We want to minimize hierarchy. Do we want a structure that says you must go to division coordinator? The division coordinator is not an administrative position right now. Would we want that?

Probably not.

Without divisions, it could be hard to get support from Technical Services. The focus of some divisions is shifting to be project-based.

If we change the division structure, the unit is not affected. There’s a functional activity that goes along with describing an object.

What could be done by divisions might not be done by divisions currently. I could see the structure allowing for this but it isn’t happening right now.

As someone is new to the institution, whether you have divisions or not, to have someone who is familiar and you can communicate with early on is key. I don’t get a sense of mentoring just orientation. Having people beyond those in unit could be important.

I have found that the division has served that function. There have been many times I have gone to members of a division with questions that may not have been right due to knowledge/interest within the unit. Catching others for conversation after a division meeting.

Tenured members of our division have made efforts to reach out and talk about my role.

My experience is completely opposite. Only see them at divisional meetings and no one is interested in my areas of focus.

So, good communication does not happen in every division. Is it the divisional structure or the personalities?

Is it possible that there are some high-functioning divisions and some not-so-high-functioning divisions? But, that isn’t structural then?

People are multifaceted.

If we document to EC that we don’t have structural problem, we could point out that we have a functional problem. Some divisions are functional and some are having a neutral to negative experience.

So the issues aren’t the same across divisions.

There are shared issues that make it useful to be put together as a group. But, maybe those groupings aren’t by subject but rather by project.

We have some with subject affinities:  e.g., Arts &Humanities.

We have some on functions: e.g., Technical Services and Central Public Services.

There are six topical divisions and three functional divisions.

What’s changed is the number of faculty. Have we gotten to the point where we should have fewer divisions? For example, Physical and Life Sciences divisions - should we only have one Sciences division?

When does it make sense to be grouped by subject? Or functions and activities that would be better addressed outside of divisions?

There are things in which you need divisional representation. There may not be people who are willing to serve. You’ve got this set of people. It could be skewed across the divisions. You have to appoint a tenured individual to some things.

There is a proliferation of Academic Professionals (AP) within the Library. We’ve definitely increased in quite a bit. All the people in IT. It also seems some faculty lines get replaced by APs. APs are in a division if their unit is in a division because everyone within a unit is in the divisions, but the governance sits with the faculty and how APs are included varies. Cataloging and digitization--that work is done by APs.

We’re talking about operational work. APs are not part of the discussion.

You have a conflict. You need to find a way to have adequate faculty governance. Moving faculty numbers down. We don’t have any money, and things do not look good.

There is going to be retirements effective June 30, 2012 because of SURS (State Universities Retirement System of Illinois).

That is another reason why you have fewer people.

Operational nature. In terms of actual governance do we need to have divisions?

Not by the University Statutes but our Bylaws say we will have divisions. We can change that.

We have a faculty secretary. Do we have any committees of faculty?

Yes, e.g., Grievance Committee. It’s the ones that are in the Bylaws. We elect faculty to serve on them.

It is within out power as a faculty to rewrite our Bylaws as long as they are consistent with University Statutes.

Create something that would ensure individual faculty members a role in administration and governance. These two things seen as essential to establish.

Any exercise in bringing units together is ultimately a compromise.

Statutes demand that we function as a college and have an Executive Committee.

d. What are the strengths of the current divisional structure?

(Note: this was embedded throughout the discussion so the group moved on.)

e. If you could create any system, what would you create?

Would we end up with something like this or tweaked?

Do we keep the divisional structure?

The operational day-to-day will involve other non-faculty which may be more productive in the end.

What’s the difference between governance and operational?

How can we deal with SFX or evaluation of web-scale better?

What about the collection and the budget? Those are operational?

No, you cannot create a wall between governance and operational structures.

The structure may be serving one well (governance or daily operations) and not the other.

It ultimately it comes down to people. It’s a matter of how well people handling it.

Is there a fear that involving too many is that you can’t boil it down? You have many people who have different viewpoints.

How much among what we do is true governance? Polices/tools we put out and things we buy.

We have these structures and policies but are we still following them?

Just because you have faculty sitting on a group does not make it faculty governance.

Senate Committee on Educational Policy, as an example - it’s all advisory.

But, does it involve actual voting?


As we hire people, they need to know how to function in a Faculty governance structure.

Libraries have a lot of different structures in other institutions.

You can have models where a Faculty governance is not in place. Duke University.

But, there is still shared governance –can have shared governance even if not faculty. Faculty-ness requires it.

Maybe it’s not the structure. Maybe it is how we are engaging the structure.

5. Conclusion

If you have feedback, please send it along.

In terms of a timeline, we will begin analysis of the data we’re collecting in November, put together the report in December, and invite comments and feedback for improvement of the report in January. The final report will be submitted to EC by February 17,  2012.