January 31, 2018 Meeting of Library Staff Support Committee

Time and Location of Meeting

January 31, 20189:00 am - 10:00 am 428

Agenda Details


Agenda not yet available.

Minutes Details


Jim Cotter (Special Collections)
Angie Gruendl (Physical Sciences & Engineering)
Kim Hutcherson, stand-in for Skye Arseneau (Administrative Services)
Emily Kasak (Mortenson Center/Area Studies)
Kyle McCafferty (Central Access Services)
Debora Pfeiffer (Technical Services)
Dani Postula (Central Access Services)
Gennye Varvel (Social Sciences)
Shoshona Vegh-Gaynor (Arts & Humanities)

Special Guest:
John Wilkin (Dean, University Library)l, Debora Pfeiffer


Discussion with Dean Wilkin: John Wilkin resumed his role as Dean of Libraries and University Librarian starting 16 January 2018. Dean Wilkin met with LSSC to discuss various Library matters and activities as a review of the past year and to discuss Library-wide updates and plans for the coming year. Highlights included:

LSSC update/review: We are happy to report that LSSC is in a good place. We have committed members with high attendance at meetings and low turnover, and we are motivated to continue to fulfill and grow our mission. We continue to expand our skill set; our consultations are becoming more fruitful and rewarding; we are learning how to plan for recurring events; we are continuing to expand our knowledge of all library units; and we are improving communication with individual staff members and Administration alike.
LSSC values the opportunity to work with Library Administration to offer guidance and feedback on various library events, activities, and updates. When given the chance to petition feedback from division staff, staff are responsive and appreciative of their inclusion in the process. A good example from this last year was when Bill Mischo asked LSSC members to solicit feedback from staff on the timing of the Annual Library Event and then incorporated this direct feedback into the planning/decision making process. We hope to see these collaborations continue and grow.

Building Library Community: We talked with Dean Wilkin about the discussion around the formation of a new “Building Community” Committee, with the goals of strengthening communication and professional relationships throughout the Library and more actively involving joint planning and input from folks across the Library. We shared with Dean Wilkin that Bill Mischo suggested, rather than a new committee, we explore the idea of a subcommittee formed from the involved committees (including LSSC, L-CAP, Staff Development and Training, and the Diversity Committee.)

Dean Wilkin asked if Bill Mischo thought there was a current committee doing this work, or one that could take on this role, and he also expressed some concern with the creation of a new committee, as this not only adds additional responsibility to individuals on the committee, but sometimes responsibilities, roles, and work can fall through the cracks across committees. Dean Wilkin also acknowledged, however, there is a real need to think through how we, as a Library, continue to create community amongst colleagues and recognize accomplishments in ways that are meaningful and impactful.

Annual Library event: Overall, the annual library event was excellent, and the opportunities afforded during the program for conversation and networking were greatly valued. We so appreciate all of the thoughtful, hard work that went into organizing and hosting this event, and we also appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback for next year’s planning. The only issue of concern we wanted to pass along to Dean Wilkin was around the decision to separate the years of service awards by classification. If we aim to equally value the roles of each of our colleagues, this separation by classification works against that message. Dean Wilkin appreciated the feedback, and he also shared that in meetings since his return, he continues to find importance in the cohering of understanding across different job ‘families’ and recognizes our mutual respect for each of our roles is what makes/can make us great.

Cross-division communication: LSSC expressed a general need to improve communication across divisions, and we hope to more regularly invite/encourage folks to attend our meetings and vice versa. Dean Wilkin asked what we thought was getting lost in cross-division communication and what might help – possible ideas shared included: better communication of division level updates and changes outside of division; job shadowing, which would help with job knowledge/communication as well as relationship building; a virtual ‘space’ in between the Staff WordPress and the Library Wiki, or better and more uniform utilization of these resources; and likewise, better utilization of LON, listserves, and Library updates.

Dean Wilkin noted that John Laskowski’s new role might be a great resource for this sort of problem-solving, and perhaps we can ask him to look into tools like Slack to help close some of these communication gaps.
Dean Wilkin’s experience as Interim Provost and looking forward: Dean Wilkin enjoyed his time as Interim Provost, but he is very glad to be back at the Library. Upon reflecting on the last year, what stood out most was how unique and incredible our institution and community is here at University of Illinois. Illinois values and fosters interdisciplinary research, especially within the sciences, in a way that isn’t accomplished at other institutions. The Library has not seen itself as integral in this role, but the Library can, and should be, a vehicle for this deep interdisciplinary work; what can we do more profoundly, at the Library, to stimulate this mindset?

Administratively, during his time as Interim Provost, Dean Wilkin also met and worked with Jeff Brownfield, Executive Director of State Universities Civil Service System. Dean Wilkin suggested LSSC reach out to him and perhaps invite him to meet with the Committee, as he could offer us great insight and be a good partner in town.
Looking forward, Dean Wilkin is beginning to talk about the master building plan, which has been in discussion for many years. The previous plan was much larger in scale and financially unrealistic. However, they are looking at a new plan that will fully redesign a large portion of the Main Stacks (additions 1-5 will be knocked down; the Dean thinks that the materials from the East Stacks can be moved to addition 6, also known as West Stacks) as a Research Commons – envisioning the Library as a hub and tool for cross-disciplinary research. We are still in the beginning stages of the conversation, and there is much to figure out.