Phone PDA Policy – 08-14-2009


Security guards, facilities staff, building service workers, and Library IT staff have been assigned pagers or cell phones in order to support core communication regarding facilities and IT.  In addition over the past several years a number of Library faculty and administrators have been assigned devices, some which have been negotiated as either a condition of initial hiring or a change in appointment.

In late 2008 a small group of us were asked to assess what and how many devices currently exist and are supported by the LIbrary.  The intent was to develop a policy for the assignment of these devices based on unit role in critical communication, and need, rather than individual responsibilities.  Another key objective was to migrate those for whom the policy recommended support to the campus; cell phone stipend program.  In anticipation of that move, several people purchased their own equipment and have been requesting monthly reimbursement on a per call basis, and receiving no reimbursement for data services.

To make a long story short, OBFS ended the cell phone stipend program in late spring 2009, just as we were ready to recommend conversion to the stipend program. The stipend program provided a vehicle by which employees could purchase their own equipment and contracts, and would be reimbursed monthly by the university for a portion of the use based on an established level at which each person used a cell phone, etc. for work purposes.   Unfortunately, OBFS did not make any followup recommendations.  So, the Library finds itself in need of fully supporting both equipment and telecommunications charges if it opts to continue this practice.

‘The LIbrary does not have a policy on assignment of cell phones/PDA’s/pagers or internet connectivity to employees in support of  communication that is necessary for critical LIbrary business, but it currently supports over twenty such devices and contracts.  The attached draft policy suggests an approach for supporting need-based use of these devices and connectivity.  The Budget Group reviewed information about the existing devices that are supported currently by the LIbrary, as well as a full listing of those units that have requested support in the past 6 months, and they made recommendations on the policy and on the allocation and distribution of administrative funds to provide this support.

Although the decision whether or not to adopt the policy is contingent on the perspective of whether or not work-related telecomm. expenditures should be borne by the institution, the costs of supporting this communication are real.  They will undoubtedly increase substantially with the implementation of the policy and the addition of a number of individuals who have requested support for legitimate business use of cell phones/pda’s.  It also bears mentioning that these costs, if they are borne by the individual, are not inconsequential (e.g.,  international phone calls in the case of Mortenson, critical email communication or phone calls for critical facilities emergencies or for advancement or other administrative purposes.)  The work that is carried out is usually done not as a convenience to the employee but as a time-dependent service on behalf of furthering the Library’s overall mission.

Obtaining cost information for the current contracts is both complicated and time-consuming. Over the past 6-9 months, several people in the Library Business Office and Library ADministration invested more hours than we care to discuss on simply tracking down the information. The average cost per month to support a device on an adequate plan is roughly $50-60/mo.

There are a raft of issues associated with assuming this responsibility, ranging from the shortage of  staff to support the configuration needs of every complicated device user to the cost and potential for misuse of these devices.  In spite of all of these negatives, I think this is a policy and a point worthy of the Library’s serious consideration.


Beth Sandore
Associate University Librarian for
Information Technology Planning and Policy
Professor of Library Administration
246A Library
1408 W. Gregory Drive
University of Illinois
Urbana, Illinois 61801
Tel. 217.333.2592
Fax  217.244.4358


Library Cell Phone, PDA and Off-site Internet Support Policy

DRAFT  14 Aug. 2009

The Library may choose to support the use of cell phones, PDA’s and other communication devices for employees in units that support Library-wide critical functions.  The Library may exercise this support option for employees in these units who are required to maintain continuous contact on a 24/7 basis with the Library as an integral part of their responsibilities.  These units include:

  • Advancement
  • Administration
  • Facilities
  • Library Information Technology

University policy stipulates that this equipment can only be used for business purposes.  Employees in the above units must still maintain their own cell phones or other devices for personal communication.  Assignments shall not be negotiated in the terms of employment for either staff or faculty in the Library-they are allocated by the University Librarian in consultation with the unit head or supervisor, to address one or both of the following needs:

The Library may assign a cell phone/PDA/contract for off-site Internet connectivity to one or more employees in the above-referenced units at an approved level (to be determined by the Library Business Office) if their role meets one or more of these criteria:

  • Unit is an emergency decision responder at the Library administrative level for facilities and/or Library-wide operations as an integral part of job;
  • Security:  The Library will provide Security guards and other employees with a phone or pager while at work for Civil Service employees whose work requires that they carry a communications device at all times while on the job.
  • Employee must remain in regular contact with potential or current donors while away from the office;
  • Employee must be available to respond for the Library Administration to Library-wide budget, personnel, or other operational questions on a 24/7 basis regardless of work-related travel schedule.

Employees currently using their own equipment will have the option to transition their individual contract to a Library contract, provided that they use it solely for business purposes.  If the contract for a pre-existing individual service is still in force or the employee is not able to negotiate a transition to a Library-supported program with the service provider, the employee may opt to give the equipment to the Library, and the Library can “lend” the equipment to the individual until the term of the current contract has expired.  Library IT and the Library Business Office will determine the appropriate equipment to meet communication needs and supply it to the unit and employee.  If the employee moves to another unit, or changes responsibilities, the Library reserves the right to re-assess the employee’s need for use of the cell phone/PDA/or off-site Internet connectivity.