Two of my colleagues (Jenny Dale and Lynda Kellam) and a friend (Lauren Pressley, now at Virginia Tech) presented in April at ACRL on their interesting concept of library personas. Part one of their program defined library personas and provided short videos of librarians describing their own perceived personas. In part two, Jenny, Lynda, and Lauren discussed how library organizational schemes could take advantage of librarians’ personas to maximize effectiveness and work satisfaction. They used UNCG’s proposed liaison reorganization as the example, showing our proposed model as well as a video of Amy Harris and me discussing our liaison reorganization process. Questions from the audience began at the 49th minute mark and focused on our reorganization. The audience provided interesting perspectives, as did Jenny and Lynda.
We are six months into the transitional year between our Reference & Instructional Services Department and our new liaison department. We are making good progress with no surprising developments yet. Well, the discussion of a new name might be dramatic – some folks really care about the name. I contend that library departmental names are largely for internal consumption, unlike a job title or the names of service desks and learning spaces. But a department name does indicate strategic focus and establish expectations. That’s important stuff.
Our three new subject teams (Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences) have met a few times as our workloads permit and have begun to work on projects and cross-training. I’m in our Social Sciences team; the aforementioned Lynda Kellam is our very capable coordinator. This semester we have worked on a few projects:
- Updating our various liaison-related statistical forms to better reflect our contributions and time commitments (for example, when you help create a graded assignment, how should that good work be recorded?)
- Discussing classes that require large-prep time for instruction work (think of an experiential learning business class in which student teams are working with local companies from different industries); this was more of a peer-support session than a project, but oh it was useful and rewarding to share experiences and ideas.
- Curriculum mapping of research instruction in all social science and business departments; stage two will be identifying departments that could use more instruction.
- Nataly Blas is leading a workshop tomorrow morning on co-teaching embedded librarianship (she is co-teaching the Campus Entrepreneurs class this semester).
- And updates from the functional teams.
The Humanities Team is pretty large, with 9 or so members, but our Science Team only has two (one of those recently hired as a new position). I think it would be better ideally for Science to have three members in order to support brainstorming, sharing of skills, etc., However this team has invited a temporary librarian to assist in projects, and she accepted. (We probably wouldn’t have gained the second science position were it not for the strategic planning in our liaison reorganization work.)
We currently have three functional teams.
The Instruction Team led a reflective teaching workshop yesterday that I heard was really good, but I missed it for a BLINC workshop on business databases at Elon University.
The Collections Team is working on plans for different levels of budget cuts for 2014-15. The UNC system is taking another big budget hit courtesy of our state government. (Search YouTube for recent Daily Show clips about the North Carolina legislature). The new team structure seems to be working well with that process, as opposed to how our old, large, monthly collections meeting used to function and bore us pretty silly. The Collections Team created sub-groups to focus on databases, journal, and books. Beth Bernhardt, our new head of Collections, serves on all three subgroups; the subsequent demands on her time should probably be considered a downside of our functional teams approach, but my friend Beth knew what she was getting into when she applied for the job!
The other functional team so far is the Reference Desk Team. This one is interesting. The co-chair is a librarian who prefers to have reference librarians on the desk as much as possible. Meanwhile, the official goal here as at many other libraries is to move to a triage model of desk staffing. So we are still working on staffing issues. Our student worker budget will certainly be cut for 2014-15, so we might have fewer hours for our LIS student reference interns. That’s a shame for providing that paid learning opportunity for the students, and also might increase the need to have liaisons staffing the reference desk.
Mary Krautter, our liaison department head, continues to provide strong leadership as we work on our transition. We had a rare full liaison meeting on Monday to review our goals and get caught up on developments. It was a large group and a two-hour meeting but the event moved along at a good clip, and I think we all enjoyed the sharing and discussions.
So, so far so good. Despite the attention it gets in presentations like the Library Personas at ACRL, our reorganization is really not too dramatic. Instead it reflects the evolving role and priorities of subject specialists, as defined by the librarians here as we spent a year planning the reorganization we wanted. Now we are halfway through making that plan a reality.