LIBRARY'S BASIC VALUES AND CULTURAL CHANGE
At the July 22nd, 2009 Library faculty meeting, four overarching issues connected with faculty governance were identified for further discussion. The Executive Committee formed and charged small groups to address these issues.
One of these groups was charged to look at the Library's basic values and the role these play in cultural change. This includes issues surrounding collegiality and empowerment.
The members of the working group were Tina Chrzastowski, Cindy Ingold, Emily Love, Lynne Rudasill, Beth Sandore, and Marek Sroka.
The group met three times: December 3, 10 and 17, 2009.
ISSUES OF CONCERN
Three key questions emerged at our initial meeting.
As we discussed these questions, four themes emerged.
Collegiality: Collegiality is not valued at this Library. Indeed, bad behavior is often rewarded and good behavior can be punished. It often seems that the individuals with the loudest and angriest voices sway the decision-making process. This includes voices both inside and outside of the Library. There is also too much bullying by individuals at all levels.
This bad behavior has gone on for a long time. Individuals who exhibit such bad behavior, whether it be bullying, voices raised in anger, or disparaging people behind their backs, are never confronted. We tend to move people around or pray for their retirement.
It will take a long time to create a more collegial environment, but the group heartily agrees that we must begin to treat each other with more respect; talk to each other more civilly both in public and private forums; and begin to work together as one Library with shared values and common goals.
Competition: Competition, especially among librarians and AULs, is a big problem within the Library. Several factors contribute to this but two key factors emerged in our discussion: the departmental library structure, and the reward system which places a heavy value on research by faculty. The departmental library structure, while creating quite personalized service, also has led to pockets of isolation, and perhaps less motivation for individuals to work together collegially with broader goals in mind. Even as we move ahead with the NSM initiatives, we do not have specific criteria to work with; instead we have competing values. This is leaving people feeling adrift and anxious.
While the heavy value and significant rewards placed on research by librarians has created, as a whole, one of the most innovative and well-informed group of librarians in the profession, it can also create unhealthy competition and an individualistic workplace culture. The unfortunate effect of the heavy value given to research can result in the rewards for doing our jobs, i.e. effectively managing our libraries and collections, or service at the local level, e.g. serving on library and campus committees, being minimally valued.
As a Library, we need to think quite seriously about how we reward both faculty and staff. Many individuals at many levels are doing an enormous amount of work to make the Library a better place, but are these individuals being sufficiently rewarded? Our answer is no.
Management Issues: The group agreed that there is no overall style of management, such as total quality management or management by objectives, governing us at the Library. Again, much of this has to do with the departmental library structure and the autonomy individual units and librarians have had over the years. Without an overarching culture of management guiding the entire Library, units and individuals have been allowed to set different priorities. Furthermore, the librarians who head these units often do not have management experience, and while many individuals learn the ropes along the way and gradually gain management experience, this often takes individual motivation to attend training, talk to other unit heads, etc.
The reporting system for librarians is another issue related to management and to effectively running a unit. We questioned who librarians in units actually report to. The majority of library faculty are supposed to report to Paula, but some individuals have been known to misuse their power as a unit head to intimidate other faculty, especially junior faculty, as well as staff. Additionally, unit heads may ignore problems, especially personnel issues, often because they do not know how to handle them. However, because most unit heads are librarians who report to Paula, there is no ongoing oversight for how these units are managed.
Services and Subject Specialists: The group agreed that the Library has a difficult time articulating the services we offer, especially the expertise we provide as subject specialists. We believe the idea of subject specialists as we have known them at this Library will change. However, if the Library can no longer sustain a model of narrowly articulated subject specialists, which most in the group agree, what will we become? How will this change evolve and most importantly, how will we communicate these changes to our users? Will the change in subject specialization be planned or opportunistic? The Library also has non-subject specialist librarians. Are these librarians valued as much as subject specialists? How do we communicate what these non-subject specialist librarians do and afford everyone equal value?
The group realizes that it will take some time to change the culture at the University Library. Some specific recommendations are listed below:
Who's Responsible : Staff Development and Training Committee working with the Diversity Committee and the Library Staff Support Committee (LSSC), as well as the AUL for Services and the Head of Human Resources.
Timeline : Spring 2010; ongoing training should continue indefinitely.
Who's Responsible : The Diversity Committee working with the AUL for Services.
Timeline: Spring 2010 begin discussions.
"ClimateQUAL TM: Organizational Climate and Diversity Assessment is an assessment of library staff perceptions concerning (a) their library's commitment to the principles of diversity, (b) organizational policies and procedures, and (c) staff attitudes http://www.climatequal.org/index.shtml.
Who's Responsible : Assessment Coordinator and LAWG working with the Staff Development and Training Committee, the Diversity Committee, and the Library Staff Support Committee, as well as the AUL for Services and Head of Human Resources.
Timeline : 2010 investigate feasibility for doing ClimQUAL; administer in 2011.
Every current and newly appointed unit head must be provided with training on management skills and supervisory techniques
Who's Responsible: The Staff Development and Training Committee working with Library Human Resources and Library Administration.
Timeline: Spring 2010 begin discussions
We know we will be losing subject specialists in the next few years. How will the Library manage these "holes" in our fabric? Will we just reweave with whoever is left, or will we be proactive and design a new fabric to meet the changing needs of our users?
Who's Responsible: The Library Executive Committee could sponsor this forum to be held at a special meeting of the Library faculty.
Timeline: Summer 2010.