Unit Head Training

Unit heads play a critical role in the design and provision of Library services, the management of Library resources, the maintenance of Library facilities, the supervision of Library staff, and the mentoring and support of Library faculty. These guidelines :

1.            outline the basic responsibilities and core competencies for all unit heads;

2.            provide a framework for individual unit head position descriptions; and

3.            guide the orientation of new unit heads and assessment of current unit heads.

Scope of Responsibility and Authority

While recognizing the unique characteristics and special mission of each unit within the Library, it is clear that all units essentially are service providers.  In view of this, unit heads are charged with providing creative leadership for their units and with collegial collaboration with other units in the Library.  This entails providing services to the unit’s constituents as well as engaging the world beyond the walls of the University in areas that directly affect the unit’s particular mission.

The unit head is ultimately responsible and accountable for the performance of the unit. This entails running the unit on a day-to-day basis, assuring provision, evaluation and monitoring of quality services, and mentoring and training the staff. Depending on the size of the staff, some of the duties listed in the Appendix may either be delegated to other faculty and staff within the unit or handled directly by the head. In units that contain other Library faculty, the division of subsidiary responsibility will be determined in a collegial manner, with the unit head having the final authority for job assignments.  Without such authority the unit head could not be held responsible and accountable for the performance of staff within the unit.

Supporting Resources

The Library Administration is responsible for providing the infrastructure and resources necessary for unit functions. This entails support for all units by providing training and development opportunities, adequate staffing and facilities, and the tools to measure and evaluate services provided.

Responsibilities and Required Areas of Competence

The following list identifies key areas of competence and responsibility expected of unit heads. It is not meant to be comprehensive, but only suggestive of the most important skills and areas in which each unit head is expected to have basic competence. The list may include skills and responsibilities that do not fall within the scope of the current activities of individual units.


Each unit head and designee should be familiar with the policies and procedures relating to the following or know where to go to find out this information, e.g., <http://www.library.uiuc.edu/administration/human/resources.html>


•             Time sheets for students and staff

•             Vacation, sick leave, funeral leave, compensatory time and make-up time, floating holidays

•             Union contracts and work rules

•             Civil service policies and procedures

•             Disciplinary actions and relevant documentation

•             Scheduling, flextime, breaks, lunch hours (guidelines for who sets work time)

•             Merit pay for open range employees

•             Annual evaluations for faculty and staff

•             Goal setting and job descriptions for all staff

•             Regular meetings and input from all staff

•             Reclassification and job audits

•             Training and development of faculty and staff; including supervisory and management skills for unit head and others in unit

•             Procedures concerning resignations and new hires

The unit head is also responsible for  fostering a positive work culture and ensuring that policies are applied consistently and fairly.

Services and Operations

Each unit head and designee should be familiar with the policies and procedures relating to the following or know where to go to find out this information, e.g.,< http://www.library.uiuc.edu/administration/services/planning.html>

•             Unit annual report guidelines

•             Unit goal setting and planning

•             Budgeting

•             Statistical reporting

•             Measurement and evaluation of operations

•             Understanding of operations budget

o             Budget overview

o             Student wages – rates/estimate of hours

o             Telecommunications – review of operative phone lines and calls made

o             Supplies

o             Services

o             Training expenses – who pays for what?

•             Understanding of basic business and financial rules and awareness of UIUC Library’s policies and procedures for:

o             Grants and contracts

o             Travel

o             Ordering of supplies, services, equipment

o             Gifts-in-kind

•             Committee work/appointments & elections (staff and faculty)

•             Faculty liaison (working with teaching faculty, library committees)

•             Divisional structure and library organizational structure)

•             Unit promotion and marketing

•             Joint projects (technology, collections, etc.)

•             Operation of service activities (e.g. circulation, instruction, reference)

•             Unit development (fund raising through the Library and/or through related departments)


Each unit head and designee should be familiar with the policies and procedures relating to the following or know where to go to find out this information, e.g., < http://www.library.uiuc.edu/administration/collections/policies/>

•             Fund structure and fund reports

•             Monitoring materials budgets

•             Serials policies and cancellations

•             Monograph ordering

•             Outstanding orders and encumbrances

•             Annual allocation process

•             Divisional collection needs

•             Endowment funds and grant funds

•             Awareness of proper procedures for:

o             Receipt of gift materials

o             Disposal of materials that are part of the collection or that were received as gifts

o             Transporting of special collections

o             Binding and Preservation

o             Withdrawal of materials from Library Collections

Continuing Education and Mentoring

The unit head is responsible for mentoring tenure-track faculty, and for identifying with each faculty member a balance of daily activities that provide reasonable opportunities for tenure-track faculty to accomplish their research and publication goals. Similarly, the unit head is responsible for identifying appropriate opportunities for Library staff to pursue ongoing development and advancement of their work-related skills.

Related Policies (Library):

Division Coordinator Responsibilities