Open Forum Notes – Academic Professionals
Divisional Structure Task Force
University of Illinois Library
October 7, 2011
3:00-4:30 (forum closed at 3:45)
Emma Clausen (Information Literacy GA)
1. 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.?
- Most APs are outside of divisions and think it is some mysterious fraternity that “you all” [faculty] belong to.
- Governance is not our concern, and much of the structure is perceived to support promotion and tenure and therefore isn’t relevant to APs.
- But what divisions do impacts APs. Speaker concurred and said that’s the reason for attending this forum.
- The AP group is comprised of people with library degrees and/or specialty degrees in other fields. We are interested in how the Library structure helps or hinders what you have to do as APs.
- Many fewer librarians than there used to be.
- Speaker noted that APs are working on keeping up with changes in workflow and communication and along with restructuring, they’re constantly responding to changes in technology.
- As APs, we have two masters: the Library as a master and the campus Office of Advancement as a master. The standards the Office of Advancement hold us to are very strict and they may pull financial support until the Library complies.
- It’s fairly common in academic circles to report to more than one person and Library structure shouldn’t hinder advancement and development.
- Speaker has never been to a division meeting.
- Divisional structure would never want to hinder functions of groups outside of divisions.
- What about communication—too much, not enough?
- Library-wide communications are just deleted (if judged not relevant to their job) or moved to another box.
- Another speaker does attend divisional meetings, and it’s helpful to talk about common interests and needs and to see differences.
- Follow-up—are there other meetings to attend besides divisional meetings?
- Yes, the unit itself has meetings and working groups have meetings.
2. If we did not have a structure, what principles would be the foundation of an ideal structure? E.g., facilitates communication, minimizes hierarchy, etc.
- Would you want another structure or are you happy with the current structure? Do you feel like the communication flow is working and that you understand what’s going on?
- Yes and no. Sometimes librarians and staff act as links between working groups. Other times communications don’t get passed along.
- When the structure is complicated, communication isn’t passed down or passed on and it’s frustrating.
- Hard to tell where the breakdown is happening.
- There’s a sense that divisional coordinators communicate with their divisions, but not all equally well. Concurrence on that point.
- With the units merging, redefining what the communication and workflows are can be a challenge.
- There’s a need to address the communication issues.
- Is now the time to do this, or will we change in another 5 years and have to redo these efforts?
- There is reliance on the divisional coordinator to communicate what’s going on internally to the Library so those changes can be communicated outside the Library. Do division meeting minutes go out to the public (on the website)?
- No, we don’t share minutes. Even division coordinators don’t share minutes with each other.
- See a lot of people attending the same meetings with the same topics.
- Nine divisions is a pretty unwieldy number.
- Area Studies and Law are each one unit and one division.
- It seems people also skip faculty meetings [as well as division meetings] in favor of getting other things done.
- Speaker noted that it’s a constant weighing of getting the day-to-day done or going to meetings.
3. What are the strengths of the current divisional structure?
- Is there anything that seems to blatantly work or not work? Pointed out that Faculty Review Committee (FRC) and Collection Development Committee CDC (as well as Administrative Council) are the only divisionally represented committees. In any changed structure we would need to find a way to accommodate that.
- Are there any negatives to having fewer than 9 divisions?
- Can’t answer that because don’t know how the subject specialists feel. Seems to be that interdisciplinary things are a bigger thing now than in the past.
- Less resistance perhaps now to making one Sciences division.
- What should stay in a structure that governs in the Library?
- Always “for” fewer meetings.
- Are you hearing enough communication or too much?
- There’s never too much communication. Sometimes frustrated because one finds out about division events after the fact, when it would have been nice to have been invited or involved.
- Flexibility of the current structure (despite all the changes) is a strength.
- Tremendous changes around technology will happen in the next 10 years.
- People (APs) are focusing on their work and aren’t really paying attention to faculty governance.
- We just can’t afford to have the focus on subjects we had in the past—too many libraries are stretched too thin.
- Speaker thinks we should structure so that we do what we need to do as librarians/faculty.
4. What are the weaknesses of the current divisional structure?
- When someone leaves and is not replaced, someone else has to pick up the duties. We can’t afford it. Is our structure in response to that? Can the structure address that?
5. If you could create any system, what would you create?
- Is there any perfect structure?
- You have 80 faculty members and at least 80 opinions.
- There are websites for each of the divisions, and once in a while the speaker “stumbles” on them.
- Are they (divisions) working groups? Yes.
- Are they social groups? Mixed—some are, some aren’t.