Library Committee Handbook

Relevant Section from Administrative Council

Monday,June 20,2011


Library 428

Complete Administrative Council meeting minutes June 20, 2011

Discussion with the EC subgroup charged to look at the structure of Divisions (Karen Hogenboom)

EC’s  mission for creating the subgroup is to ask questions and gather information to be used to assess the Library’s current division structure. Because units are consolidating and operating with fewer people, most divisions are becoming smaller. The goal of this process is to find ways to be more efficient and effective in light of these changes. Discussion took a question/answer/comment format resulting in the following points about

  1. what divisions still do well,
  2. in what ways they no longer function optimally, and
  3. if we did have more time and flexibility, are there other roles Divisions could perform?

This charge is not necessarily about getting rid of the division structure, but to determine if divisions are the best reporting structure or if some better options exist. There is no concrete timeline, but information-gathering as a first step in assessment (not to generate a proposal for action).

EC will look into any statutory requirements that are currently addressed by having the division structure in place. Division by-laws require and describe the responsibilities of a coordinator who calls regular meetings, deals with P&T issues, defines CDC representation and other things. The Library is currently doing these things via the Division structure.

Email and virtual meetings have resulted in less-frequent/more efficient Division representation now than in the past. Paula’s change to monthly instead of twice-a-month AC meetings made Division representation half the job it used to be. Even so, it is more difficult now, in light of the shrinking number of positions, to find people willing to commit to being a Division representative. If the by-laws are changed on the matter of term limits, people who want to serve but can’t now, could do so.

Divisions are flexible at varying sizes, however once a Division has only 1 or 2 members, it ceases to function effectively. Not all Divisions are becoming smaller; Tech Services has grown significantly, which is different than what is happening with other units in the Library.

Sabbaticals create another Division coverage challenge, however it’s not necessary to stay within the division to find an alternative representative for sabbaticals.

Division meetings are deemed useful because one gets to catch up with things going on outside your own building. Division meetings are a kind of supportive, mentoring, trusted “home,” and helpful to some navigating the tenure process. (It was suggested the subgroup query untenured faculty about the role of Divisions as support for the tenure process.) The division structure also gives a positive cohesiveness to purchasing, resources, and knowledge about collection development. Things are shared at the Division meetings that wouldn’t be otherwise; there is something unique in the communication process.

Restructuring (ex: Reference) provides a reason to rethink Divisions. When a Division and a Library become the same, a merger with another related Division could be considered. One purpose of the division unit is to give a voice, which might not happen if a merger results in representation from a small division becoming subsumed by a larger Division or if we abandon divisions and work within a departmental framework only.

The need and role for Divisions has evolved and changed over time since they were created in ~1990. With the consolidation of services and more centralized functions, it’s important to keep the balance with critical and fluid research and educational things that are going on at the edge of what we do. Divisions are probably more in line with this than the centralized services. If we are going to change the Division structure, how would we insure that its voice is communicated, especially from those under-served.  

There is an efficiency of response at the Division level that does not exist at other levels for issues that need to be resolved quickly. ESSL staffing issues were provided as an example. Nancy O’Brien and Lisa Romero solve staffing problems in a matter of hours.

If the Division structure is removed, people in similar subject areas will find other ways to get together on an informal basis. Separation of administrative and program-focused cross-disciplinary functions benefit from a connection to subject. 

It was suggested that we gain input from the three virtual library librarians and also from the AULs to learn if Divisions are an asset to their work. Because not all Division members are faculty, an effort should be made to hear from all.