Library Committee Handbook

Executive Committee



Psychology Social Work Justification

Proposal to fill Psychology/Social Work Librarian Position

Justification Document

November 13, 2009

The position of Psychology/Social Work Librarian will become vacant on August 15, 2010. 

The Education and Social Science Library has a very active program of instruction, reference, collection building, and other user services.  The position of Psychology/Social Work Librarian is critical to providing these services for the very large constituency that uses resources and services in this area.  According to the 2008/2009 Division of Management Information <http://www.dmi.illinois.edu/cp/>, the Department of Psychology has 85 FTE faculty and academic staff with 1437 undergraduate and graduate students.  The School of Social Work has 51 FTE faculty and academic staff and 263 graduate and professional students.  With the recent addition of a bachelor’s degree program in Social Work, the demands for instruction and reference will increase markedly. 

The Psychology/Social Work Librarian will provide services to these two academic programs as well as scheduled on-site and virtual reference service to all constituents of the Education and Social Science Library.  In addition, the position will build collections in these areas for all print, media and electronic formats, and manage allocated funds.  Assessing the collections and services for these areas is integral to the duties of this position.  Additionally, developing a stronger digital presence on subject Web sites will be part of the duties for this position, as will be using innovative ways to work with students in distance education programs.  Outreach to practitioners and services to new undergraduates are also part of the duties for this position.  We anticipate that this position will develop more interactive ways to meet user needs with increasingly diverse use of technologies such as social networking, IM, online instruction, Web tutorials, and so on. 

ESSL has a staff of 5FTE librarians, each of whom is assigned one or more subject areas and some functional responsibilities (e.g., managing ESSL’s Web pages, or coordinating reference services).  4FTE Classified staff, 2FTE graduate assistants, and 4FTE student assistants complete the complement in ESSL.  All positions are permanent state funded lines.  This level of staffing is justified by the high level of activity that occurs in ESSL according to any quantifiable measure, including gate counts, circulation transactions, reference transactions, and instructional activities.  ESSL is typically among the five busiest libraries in the UIUC system, including Central Bookstacks and the Undergraduate Libraries.  Statistical reports from Voyager and Desk Tracker confirm this.

ESSL works in a team environment with everyone contributing ideas and services for the stated mission < http://www.library.illinois.edu/edx/infoandservices/about.html#mission >.  For the librarians, additional responsibilities as faculty liaisons to their assigned subject areas add a level of autonomy in carrying out their work.  Otherwise, all librarians participate in instruction, reference, collection development, and related activities.  For classified staff, close cooperation is needed to manage a circulating collection of 148,000 items with over 1,600 serial titles.  Responsibilities for classified staff include supervision and management of operations (1FTE); acquisitions and materials processing (1FTE); circulation and stacks maintenance (1FTE); and serials processing, record updating, and management (1FTE).  Over 7,000 new items were added to the ESSL collections in 2008/2009.  This reflects the active rate of collection building, requests from users for new print material, and the diversity of collections and the users served.  It also creates a large demand on staff at every level to be sure that material is acquired, processed, and made available in a timely way.  Five 40% (2FTE) graduate assistants provide high level assistance with reference, Web services, and other user-focused and collection-focused services.  The 4FTE student assistants provide the nuts-and-bolts work of the library through circulation activities, shelving and related stacks maintenance, and other assigned projects.  They, like all other personnel, undergo a training program in ESSL that promotes positive user interactions and effective, friendly service.  The ESSL in its wide array of subject disciplines and special collections serves a larger student and faculty population than most other libraries on campus.  According to the 2008/2009 campus profile, ESSL serves 254FTE Tenure System Faculty and 5,711 students.  These figures do not include the many other visiting and academic staff categories present in each department.  These figures for the combined departments of Anthropology, Communication, Gender and Women’s Studies, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology; the School of Social Work; and the College of Education compare favorably to the College of Engineering’s data (375FTE Tenure System Faculty and 7,677).  When compared to data for individual departmental libraries serving colleges such as Business, or departments such as mathematics or chemistry, it is clear that the consolidated service model provided by ESSL offers great value for the number of FTE staff providing services.  The librarian/teaching faculty/student ratio is such that it shows the benefits of this service model.  In order to continue providing high quality services to many students, the position of Psychology/Social Work Librarian needs to be filled.  The ESSL team approach requires proactive participation by the professional staff in providing services.  This position is needed to maintain or increase our contact hours with students and faculty.  As an example, in FY09 ESSL librarians provided 91 instructional sessions to 1,488 undergraduate and graduate students.  In addition, 8,801 reference and 4,583 directional questions were answered in FY09, with a gate count of 99,874.  This level of activity and service is only possible due to the dedicated work of all personnel in ESSL. 

If the Psychology/Social Work Librarian position is not filled, the quality and quantity of services will decline since the ESSL librarians are already overextended in their assignments.  Like our colleagues across the Library system, we are working well beyond 50 hours a week, with some of us routinely putting in 10-12 hour days at the Library in addition to working from home.  Not having this position filled would not only undermine morale, but would be viewed negatively by the teaching departments.  At this time there are no opportunities for external funding for this key position.