A task force was appointed by University Librarian Paula Kaufman in April of 2005 to evaluate the Staff Development and Training Position. The reason for this evaluation is that we are nearing the end of the third year of an appointment of a half-time Coordinator for Staff Development and Training, Beth Woodard. The Executive Committee, in approving her appointment, stipulated that prior to the end of the three year appointment, the position would be evaluated and the results of the evaluation communicated to the committee for the purposes of deciding next steps regarding the continuation of the position. The Coordinator was appointed in November of 2002 with duties specified as being responsible for the planning, coordination, and evaluation of the Staff Development Program, organizing and publicizing programs of interest to the Library staff, and reviewing and making recommendations regarding the creation, implementation and ongoing conduct of a New Employee Orientation Program. In addition the Coordinator has to identify, develop, recruit, train and evaluate and maintain a pool of staff trainers, resource personnel, and facilitators. The position reports to the Associate University Librarian for Services.
This evaluation has both a chronological and a conceptual scope. It includes a description of the condition of staff development and training prior to appointment of the Coordinator and a description of the present condition and developments over the past three years. Its conclusions are based on the evidence gathered by the evaluation committee, and these form the basis of the committee’s recommendations to Executive Committee that the position be continued and, if possible, be increased to full-time..
Description of Condition of Staff Development and Training prior to Appointment of Coordinator
Prior to the appointment of the Coordinator for Staff Development and Training , training development and execution took place almost wholly within the unit, except for Graduate Assistant training (that was attended almost exclusively by GAs from reference and undergrad) and new systems training (DRA and subsequently Voyager). On campus there was training provided from outside the Library, primarily by campus computing and by Academic Human Resources. Other than on-the-job training for tasks carried out within the Library, training was almost exclusively technology centered. There was no employee orientation program for new employees, except as provided within individual units. In short, there was no element of a social or conceptual indoctrination to the Library and its culture. In addition, while committees within the library were charged with various tasks that required specific kinds of expertise, the acquisition of this expertise occurred haphazardly. These committees were often unable to provide follow-through for training needs directly relevant to their mission. In 1999 there began a broadening of staff development with seminars that were conducted by training specialists from the Association of Research Libraries. These seminars focused on topics such as Running Effective Meetings and How to Set Goals and Achieve Them Both for Yourself and Your Employees. A desire for training became more acute, evidenced in part by staff asking the Coordinator for Information Literacy Services and Instruction (whose focus is on programs for patrons) if she would also offer training for staff, especially computer program training.
Administratively two of the major impediments to effective training were the cost involved and the lack of someone to provide a structure for a training program. As far as the cost was concerned, the only computer training available was either a self-programmed type of course, or an instructor led course which would cost $100 per person as a minimum. For the Library, with over 200 staff members and over 175 faculty and academic professionals, this approach to training was simply beyond our means.
The Present Condition and Developments over the Past Three Years
There is now an impressive infrastructure for staff development and training in the Library. For example, there now exists a Staff Development and Training Advisory Committee that advises the Coordinator on development and training. In addition, the Coordinator conducted a library-wide training needs assessment survey and interpreted the results. As a result, specific sessions were offered to meet the stated needs of the Library. This has resulted in programmatic and systematic training. Scheduling software has been purchased and installed. This has allowed faculty and staff to register online for training events. Graduate Assistant training has now become Library-wide. This was implemented just prior to the appointment of the Coordinator but as a result of the Coordinator’s efforts. The successful establishment of this infrastructure has solidified the idea that training and staff development is a necessity for everyone and not a privilege for a few. It is an important part of being a Library staff member. In fact, training and development is now an integral part of the Library’s strategic plan.
In addition to now having a well-developed infrastructure for training, the position of Coordinator has readily been embedded in other projects. For example, the Coordinator lends valuable consultation to the CLIR (Council on Library and Information Resources) fellows that are currently at the UIUC Library. The Coordinator is also an ex officio member of the Diversity Committee as well as chair, of course, of the Staff Training and Development Advisory Committee. This committee gets input from a broad range of staff, giving credibility to the idea that all perspectives are valuable and important. The Coordinator is also mentioned as a collaborator for the Federated Search Implementation Team. Moreover, the Coordinator has worked closely with Library Human Resources and helped to develop the soon-to-be-launched Employee Orientation Program.
The Coordinator also enables the Library to better interact with employees in developmental mode (requiring additional training to perform) versus punitive mode. This is in keeping with a new personnel disciplinary program that is in place for members of AFSCME 698 (LTAs and LTSs).
The Coordinator has also succeeded in building a conceptual infrastructure for training in the Library. One example of this is the Administrative Council approved Statement on Responsibilities for Training, which for the first time lays out who is responsible for training and the positive outcomes that training creates.
The Coordinator has had great success in mobilizing internal resources (funding, people) of the Library and utilizing external resources (LTLS, T4B, etc.) to provide more training at a lower cost than was ever possible before. The Library has developed the capability to fully research and compare options for delivering training, thus increasing the cost-effectiveness of the overall program.
Conclusions Based on the Evidence Presented
The Task Force concludes that the position of Coordinator gives credibility for staff development and training as a worthwhile and necessary activity. It helps shape a supportive culture for learning and training and provides and sustains basic infrastructure and logistical support for training, including a calendar, publicity, and routine evaluation of programs.
Recommendation to the Executive Committee
Based on the evidence explored and presented the Task Force recommends that the Library:
retain the position of Coordinator for Staff Development and Training;
when possible, move this position to full time and/or increase the amount of GA or hourly staff support allocated to it;
continue monetary and other support from the Library for the training program; and
continue to evaluate other university training models for the purpose of incorporating new ideas into our training.
Task Force Members
Bob Burger (chair)