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Charges to the Self-Study Teams, Re-envisioning Library Services

Overall Context

The Library today has, on average, four people in career positions to accomplish the mission carried on by five people only a few years ago. Yet we are maintaining the same number of libraries and service points that we had when we were staffed at that higher level. One reason we have tried to do so much is that the campus has retained all of its academic and professional programs, adding rather than subtracting to meet the growth of new knowledge.

This approach has taken a toll - staff across the Library say they are overwhelmed and have to let some work slip. It is clear that the Library can no longer provide the full range of services in as many locations, as we have historically provided. Many locations are already below skeleton staffing levels and absences (such as illness or jury duty) mean that the unit is no longer able to maintain current hours, train and supervise student employees, assist users with reference questions, check-in and process new materials, review library collections, support new services, or handle special requests. Nor can library staff take the important role they must have in the transformation of scholarly communication and teaching in the academy. It is clear that continuing to stretch our reduced workforce and provide all services as we have is untenable.

The Re-envisioning initiative allows us to develop our priorities and approaches for the long-term health of the Library. Today’s challenge is to articulate the types of services the Library should provide, and where they should be provided, to meet current and anticipated needs of our library users. We must identify services (or aspects of services) that we might standardize, automate, centralize, or cease in order to allow us to focus on activities of greatest value, and identify services (or aspects of services) that we should give preference to and grow. Equally important in this process is outlining a model for an ideal workplace for staff – one where responsibilities are assigned at an appropriate classification, the workload is reasonable, and the environment supports personal growth, librarywide collaboration, and continuous improvement. Difficult choices must be made.

Team I - Library Service Models

Context

The Library’s current service model is a hybrid with some academic departments and programs served by subject specialty libraries and others served by the Doe/Moffitt Libraries. Historically each library has developed their policies and services autonomously. With decreased staffing, it is likely that the Library will need to weigh the options for supporting more libraries with fewer and/or lower-level services, or shifting resources from some areas to sustain current-level and/or enhanced services in fewer locations. This forward-looking assessment will need to take into account other changes in our environment. Signs of these changing times include: NRLF estimated to be full in three years, some disciplines moving more quickly toward e-resources, interdisciplinary relationships between departments and disciplines, demand for 24-hour study spaces, calls for more just-in-time services, campus changes in light of Operational Excellence (OE) and related initiatives, and internal operational costs of locally customized services.

What is needed is a new landscape for library services, one that we can all share comfortably. The recommended model for this new order must be viable within the Library’s reduced operations budget. This task will be especially challenging since it may not be possible to gather all data that we may wish to have.

Charge

For all services provided in more than one place by Doe/Moffitt, Bancroft, EAL, Collections Services, and the Subject Specialty Libraries:

  1. Describe options for viable service configurations that will provide the new framework for the number of library locations supported by the University Library, and for the services offered in each library location. These service configurations will be described as models, such as a “full service library” (a staffed location with the greatest range of services and longest hours), a “storage library” (from which materials would be paged), and all practical options in between. Centralizing services (e.g. reserves, cataloging, print serials, etc) should also be explored within these models.
  2. Identify the associated staffing levels, costs, benefits and drawbacks of each model, given its service configuration.
  3. Identify metrics and other considerations (such as disciplinary alliances) that would assist in determining which model would be best applied to existing library locations.
  4. Recommend a sustainable framework for library services (which will include one model, or a combination of models) for each of three budget scenarios. These senarios will be provided to your team with relevant data.
  5. Document any special issues or considerations that might assist both users and library staff with the transition, beginning in 2012 and over 2-5 years, from the current service model to the implemented model.

To clarify, the team is asked to identify a viable service framework(s) which take into account the number of library locations and services each can support. As part of this process, the team may articulate criteria they used in their decision making. The team is not asked to identify specific plans for individual libraries.

See roster.

Team II -- Role of the Librarian

Context

The Library has developed ties with academic departments and programs which are sustained primarily by library liaisons. Librarians and other professional staff serve in these roles with responsibilities for collection development, instructional services, reference and research consultations, and other outreach activities. The Library must take a new look at the way we support all disciplines.

In addition to the liaison assignments, many librarians are managers who spend a significant amount of time handling operations and supervising staff. As the campus adjusts to the OE Organizational Simplification guidelines, the Library is wise to consider how librarians, and by extension other professional staff,can be best utilized as supervisors, managers, and leaders. Additionally, along with historical areas of value (such as preservation, acquisitions, and cataloging), new issues are emerging that might be best served by an individual or group of library staff with appropriate expertise (e-research, GIS, online instruction, and assessment, for example).

As we operate the library with fewer staff, including librarians, a key question becomes what is the role of the librarian in a re-envisioned library? What are the most important responsibilities that must be filled by librarians? What tasks can be reduced, redesigned or transferred to other staff? In this review the self-study team will develop recommendations to assist the Library in determining priorities for librarian positions and allocations of their time to guide us as we plan.

Charge:

  1. Inventory current and potentially new responsibilities for librarians at the UC Berkeley Library (selection, liaison, reference, original cataloging, instruction, management/supervision, and administration, for example.)
  2. For each of these responsibilities, investigate and document approaches for providing them in new or reduced ways (including potential benefits and drawbacks when possible)
  3. Our current workforce is 80 FTE librarians—69 career & 11 temporary. Recommend how responsibilities should be assigned in scenarios with a librarian workforce at lower levels (numbers forthcoming).

It is important to understand that the work of this team is not a theoretical exercise, but will have consequences on how the library operates. For example, if it is found that all the current librarian responsibilities must be retained at their currently reduced levels, it is reasonable to conclude that these would have to be applied over fewer service points and broader subject areas to be sustainable. I also call to your to attention to The NextGen LAUC Member: A Report from the LAUC Committee on Professional Governance as an important resource.

Working Life of both Teams

The teams will meet, separately, every week. Library Administration representatives on the teams will serve as a bridge between the two self-study teams. Library Human Resources Department (LHRD) and Library Business Services (LBS) will be providing key data as requested, making Susan Wong and Elise Woods Consultants.

Final reports with recommendations should be submitted to the University Librarian no later than April 15, 2012. Both reports from the teams will be released for review and comment by the full range of our community – faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, library staff and the campus academic administration. At the end of the review process, the University Librarian will issue an “Outcome Letter” that delineates new priorities, the service models, and articulations of the role of Librarians. The Letter will have associated “action items” for the Library to implement.

Tom Leonard
Jan. 10, 2012

See roster.

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