Staff Coverage for Service Points

The Administrative Council discussed staff coverage of service points in emergency situations in Fall 2003. This discussion document is intended to broaden this issue slightly wider to include any situation in which staff cannot be present at a service point that is scheduled to be open.

Problem

Immediate problems arise when there is insufficient staff to keep a unit open.   The Administrative Council’s Fall 2003 discussion concluded  that each Division should work out procedures to provide coverage to units that could otherwise not stay open during scheduled hours.  Implementation revealed several problems and misunderstandings that led to some unit heads closing or planning to close their libraries in the face of foreseeable or unforeseeable staff shortages, despite posted hours.

Assumptions

  • The Library is required to remain open when the University is open.  (For the past two years we have approved libraries with three or fewer permanent staff (civil service and faculty) to close for Christmas Eve.)
  • Civil service staff cannot be forced to take vacation if they work in a unit that is closed for Christmas Eve.  If they do not wish to take vacation that day, work must be found for them in another unit and these plans must be made in advance.
  • Many graduate students and foreign students stay in Champaign-Urbana throughout the year; some faculty plan to do research during times outside of regular semesters.  Some non-UIUC users wait until the end of semesters to use our libraries because parking is more available then.  We cannot assume that no one wants to use the libraries during holiday breaks.

There are additional factors that are important to the plans we develop to provide staff coverage for service points:

  • In units with two permanent staff members, vacations are usually limited to times in the year when classes are not in session.
  • Central Stacks, the place called when a library does not open on time, also has a reduced staffing level and cannot always respond to open a library on short notice.

Recent experience has shown that Divisions are not always able to provide coverage on either a planned or unplanned basis.  To date, only a few Divisions have developed written coverage plans.

Does the Administrative Council continue to endorse this approach or does it prefer to ask Library Administration to assume responsibility for finding coverage for staffing shortages?