Library Committee Handbook

Executive Committee



Faculty Governance Working Group 2

 

Faculty Meeting Review Group

DRAFT WHITE PAPER DRAFT

 

CHARGE:

 

The Library's Executive Committee charged the group to prepare a White Paper on: Faculty Meeting structure, format, and agenda items -- in particular the expressed desire for Faculty Meetings to include more open discussions of issues and NSM (and other) activities.

 

MEMBERSHIP:

Alvan Bregman (convener), Lisa Hinchliffe, Joanne Kaczmarek

 

WORKING GROUP PROCESS:

 

In carrying out its charge, the Faculty Meeting Review Group attempted to model the principles of openness, inclusion, and prior document review that we recommend below for Faculty Meetings . In addition to dialogue among the three members of the group, an open meeting was held on November 30 and a draft of this report was circulated for comment on Libfac-L in early December.

 

DISCUSSION:

 

By-Laws:

Two Sections of Article III (Faculty) of the Library's By-Laws have much to say about Faculty Meetings (see Appendix).  The content of these meetings includes consideration of "questions of Library governance and educational policy" (IV.2.b).  Monthly meetings are considered normal, with at least one meeting to take place "per semester."  All committees with library-wide responsibility are to report at the final Faculty Meeting of the year.

 

Number of Meetings:

The number of meetings scheduled has decreased in recent years, although within the limits stipulated in the By-laws.  Each year some scheduled meetings are likely to be canceled "for lack of business."  When held, meetings consist mainly of reports by the University Librarian, the Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee, and committees with special charges.  However, many standing committees with important mandates do not report, even at the last meeting of the academic year, as stipulated in the By-laws. 

 

Attendance and Participation at Meetings:

Attendance at Faculty Meetings varies and can be poor.  (Academic professionals are invited and many do attend; however, their presence does not help establish a quorum.) 

 

The amount of discussion during Faculty meetings varies and can be scant.  Scant discussion may be caused by one or more of the following: 1. Topics are not of interest to those in attendance; 2. Faculty have not received adequate prior information to prepare themselves for discussion; 3. Input is not solicited because decisions about topics reported on have already been reached, rendering discussion pro forma; 4. Faculty feel reticent to speak in the venue of Faculty Meetings as they are currently conducted;.  Item 4 is widely reported to be a factor for scant discussion, particularly among untenured and visiting faculty.  This is unfortunate because Faculty Meetings ought precisely to be where discussion on library-wide issues takes place.

 

Structure of Meetings:

Meetings substantially begin with the reports of the Chair (University Librarian) and of the Executive Committee (EC).  EC reports usually take the form of a summary of minutes not yet posted on the EC web site.  (These minutes when posted are often cursory.)  The time accorded to the EC report is usually short and rarely allows for substantive discussion on topics mentioned in the report.  The rest of the meeting is taken up with reports and presentations of various kinds, usually for the information of faculty.

 

Commentary:

We cannot remember a substantive issue being put formally before the faculty for advice during recent years.  In particular, New Service Model (NSM) issues that may impact on shared governance have not typically been discussed with faculty at its meetings, except after decisions have been reached.  Instead, faculty have been invited to attend general open meetings without a formal structure.  There is nothing wrong with general open meetings but since faculty members have a defined role in governance in a collegial environment, Faculty Meetings are an appropriate venue to discuss NSM values and directions.

 

The only substantive motions at Faculty Meetings in recent memory have been brought by the By-Laws Committee, and these have tended to fail because special majorities are required.  In addition, courtesy appointments have been brought for approval before the Faculty. 

 

EC has assumed the role of speaking for the Library faculty, especially on strategic planning, mission statements, and other matters which should involve general faculty advice.  In doing so, it can be argued that EC has effectively preempted an important role of the faculty as a whole, as established under the By-laws.

 

The role of the Faculty Secretary is minimal, despite the fact that the By-laws devote a substantial amount of language to this position.  The role of the Secretary is only to issue (not decide on) agendas, to take minutes for the Chair and to issue these minutes to the faculty.  It seems likely that elected Secretaries do not consider their role to be significant, because it is rare that incumbents allow their names to stand for re-election.  One must suppose that the framers of the By-laws imagined that an elected Secretary would have some real function in the context of meaningful meetings.  However, any small value-added function that develops depends entirely on the initiative of the Secretary and the latitude of the Chair. 

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

 

  1. Encourage an atmosphere of discussing issues and of giving advice during Faculty Meetings.  This can be nurtured by encouraging and accepting motions from the floor, consistent with the rules of order.

 

  1. Include more real business matters that must be decided upon by votes during Faculty Meetings. This would make attendance at Faculty Meetings more meaningful in busy times. 

 

3.    The By-laws Committee should review the role of the Faculty Secretary and suggest revisions to make that role more substantive.

 

4.    For efficiency and to enable new ideas to emerge through dialogue among colleagues, EC should solicit feedback at Faculty Meetings instead of encouraging each individual faculty member to consider issues individually and submit written comments privately.  While those who wish to comment privately and confidentially should still be able to do so, we urge faculty members to post their comments to EC on the Libfac-L electronic discussion list.  We think posting comments more broadly would create an atmosphere of open communication and serve the Library well.

 

5.    The skeleton agenda for Faculty Meetings is not defined by the By-laws, and we suggest several ways of making the agenda more meaningful:

 

 

6.    Issues that should always come for discussion at Faculty Meetings include:

 

 

 

APPENDIX

 

SECTIONS OF LIBRARY BY-LAWS THAT COVER FACULTY MEETINGS (http://www.library.illinois.edu/committee/bylaws/index.html)

:

ARTICLE III.  THE FACULTY

Section 2.  OFFICERS

A.  Chairperson.  The University Librarian, as chief executive officer, shall preside as the chairperson at Library Faculty meetings. (See Library Bylaws, Article [III.3.A])

B.  Vice Chairperson.  The elected members of the Executive Committee shall elect annually one of its members as Vice Chairperson of the Faculty.  The duties of the Vice Chairperson shall include:

1)  Presiding at Faculty meetings in the absence of the Chairperson;

C.  Secretary.  The Secretary of the Faculty shall be elected annually by the Faculty and may serve successive terms.  Duties of the Secretary shall include:   

1)  Recording, preserving, and distributing minutes of Faculty meetings;

2)  Providing written notice of meetings and issuing a call for agenda items ten days in advance of a regular meeting of the Faculty;

3)  Providing a written agenda three days prior to a meeting of the Faculty.

D.  Parliamentarian.  The University Librarian shall appoint annually, with the advice of the Executive Committee, a Parliamentarian to advise the chair on questions of procedure.

Section 3.  MEETINGS

A.  The University Librarian or the Vice Chairperson shall preside over the meetings of the Faculty.

B.  Types of Meetings.

1)  Regular Meetings.  The regular meetings of the Faculty shall be held approximately at monthly intervals during the academic year with a minimum of one per semester.  A call for agenda items shall be issued at least ten days prior to each regular meeting. 

2)  Special Meetings.  Special meetings of the Faculty may be called by the Executive Committee on the written request of ten members of the Faculty.

3)  Emergency Meetings.  The University Librarian and/or the Executive Committee may call an emergency meeting without written notice.  Any action taken at an emergency meeting is subject to Faculty review at its next regular or special meeting.

C.  Notice of Meeting.  The Faculty shall receive written notice of each regular or special meeting at least ten days prior to the meeting.  Written agenda shall be provided at least three days prior to the meeting.  Notification of emergency meetings is carried out by whatever means seem feasible at the time.

D.  Minutes.  The Secretary shall record and preserve minutes of all meetings and distribute them to the Faculty. 

E.  Quorum.  A quorum shall consist of thirty percent of the eligible faculty as of August 21 of each year.

F.  The latest edition of Robert's Rules of Order shall govern meetings of the Faculty when not in conflict with these Bylaws or the Statutes.

G.  Voting 

1)  Voting on motions is normally accomplished by voice vote of a simple majority of those members present and voting.  A show of hands is used to verify an inconclusive voice vote and to vote on motions requiring two-thirds for adoption.

2)  Amendments to the Bylaws, (see Library Bylaws, Article XI) shall be approved by a ballot.

3)  The University Librarian votes only to break a tie vote.

ARTICLE IV.  UNIVERSITY LIBRARIAN

Section 2.  DUTIES

The University Librarian shall:

B. call meetings of the Library Faculty to consider questions of Library governance and educational policy and to report to the Library Faculty on the current work of the Library;  

C. formulate and present policies to the Library Faculty for its consideration;

ARTICLE VII.  COMMITTEES

Committees with library-wide responsibilities shall report on their work at regular intervals to the Faculty.  At a minimum, such committees shall report both orally and in writing at the last scheduled Faculty meeting of the academic year.