April 14, 1999
In summary, the charge of the Task Force was to "review current support staff allocations in public service units and assess their "reasonableness" as related to factors such as population served and workload indicators" and to identify "severely under-staffed units." The Committeeís full charge can be found in Appendix A. Given this charge, the Task Force moved to:
While there were clearly support staffing reductions throughout this decade, it appears that they occurred in a generally "equitable" manner across library units. That is, in the final analysis, the reductions seem to have been spread evenly throughout the Library. The Task Force has, however, identified a number of general and unit-specific recommendations. These recommendations are followed by an interpretive context for the recommendations and a description of the methodology used by the Task Force.
Most units report that they are able to maintain rudimentary baseline services given their current LA and GA allocations. However, most feel that this baseline is well below what they would like to provide and in many areas below what they provided prior to budget and staffing cuts. Many would like to expand hours or increase their web presence and other off-site services, but simply do not have the budget or staffing resources to do so. Units report difficulty in finding time for visioning and planning new services and new approaches to old services when operating so close to the baseline. Most units state that their ability to maintain the quality and smooth delivery of day-to-day services depends heavily on the dedication, creativity, and skill of support staff. Some, however, express concern that several years of high-pressure or unpredictable circumstances have had negative cumulative effects on the morale and stamina of these staff.
Some staffing issues came up in a number of units, and are worth noting:
Many units also express concern over single-solution, all-or-nothing, approaches which erode local control and responsiveness to unit-specific staffing needs and pressures, and which may exacerbate problems in some units although alleviate them in others. The ability to approach staffing issues with greater flexibility and timeliness is seen by a number of unit heads as essential to increasing staffing stability and efficient use of allocated resources. At the same time, caution is needed to avoid discrepancies or the perception of unfairness among units and employees. For example, incentive pay has often been suggested as a means to encourage student employees to work during intersessions when shelving and discharging workloads are extremely large and student employee attendance is very low. During the winter 98/99 intersession, DMCS was asked to surge a large number of volumes from the Moffitt Library to the Main Stacks and was given permission to offer its current student employees this incentive pay. The results were remarkable: the surge was completed on time and for the first time in many years, DMCS had no discharging or shelving backlog when the Spring semester began. However, concern was brought forward by some units with their own staffing shortages (and by their student employees) who felt it unfair that library student employees doing similar work got more pay than others during this same period. Yet, even if all units were given permission to offer incentive pay to their students during intersession, not all could have afforded to do so within their current GA allocations (DMCS, by the way, did receive extra GA for the Moffitt intersession surge project.)About The Methodology:
It should be noted, however, that in the last few months, a number of units have received new funds for support staff while other units have been able to recruit to fill newly vacated positions. Some of the focus is therefore happily changing away from issues and fears of chronic understaffing to integrating new staff members into the Library.
The Task Force developed a data-based model to establish a baseline comparison between workload factors commonly shared by public services units and their LA FTE/GA allocations.
As a starting point for our analysis, we created for each unit a profile which correlated workload indicators (as reported by units in their annual reports) with allocated support staffing as of July 1, 1998. The workload factors and associated notes can be found in Appendix B. These workload factors are weighted in order to capture each taskís relative impact on LA FTE and GA funding. For example, "x" number of circulation transactions corresponds to "y" number of serials entered. Student employees do the bulk of this work and so are impacted more heavily than Library Assistants, or one kind of task requires relatively more supervision than another and so has relatively greater impact on LA FTE, etc. We modified these weight factors after consulting with units, comparing the FTE which the model projected against the amount of FTE units actually devote to the various workloads. We do not attempt to include or describe all the activities of any unit or staff member. Nor does this model take into account differences in the needs and demands in clientele served, special collections, complex holdings and shelving locations, etc. The intent here is not to provide a work of photorealism of any given unit or employee, but rather to give us a tool to identify units which seem to diverge greatly from a middle ground of staffing predictability so we may examine those units and their workload needs in greater detail.
In order to obtain an interpretive context for the above data, each public service unit was subsequently interviewed and asked to correct errors, update FTE data, and offer comment. Unit heads were also asked to identify the factors which contribute most to their stability and resilience, as well as those factors which mitigate most against. While units vary in the particulars regarding such things as the relative experience, training, and efficiency of individual staff members; staff and/or student turnover vs. longevity; the need to use LAís to augment academic appointments or the need to use students and temporary positions to augment or replace career staffing, the same issues come up repeatedly.
Three units are identified as falling below projected staffing levels: CHEM, BUSI, and ENVI. Subsequent qualitative data bore their needs out as well. Our findings go beyond this initial look at the numbers, however, looking for common trends as borne out by both the quantitative and qualitative data. Of note is that very few units expressed the need for larger support staffing allocations in order to carry on with the very basic of services. Many units, however, expressed the need to be able to spend their currently allocated staffing dollars more flexibly in order to maintain even these basics.
It should be especially noted that the focus and recommendations of this Task Force are limited in scope. We give specific recommendations for immediate support staffing needs along with general recommendations to increase staffing stability and efficient use of allocated resources. Our analysis relies on commonly shared and measurable published workload factors and does not examine what services the Library should be providing. Units expressed dismay that important types of work, such as web development and document delivery, are not included in this review. Other areas we do not consider are performance or supervision issues. Further, this analysis only examines non-academic appointments (primarily Library Assistants) and GA allocations, although the Task Force recognizes that LA staffing, and even GA positions cannot be treated as a wholly separate issue from Librarian assignments. Staffing is a continuum with each layer acting as backup and oversight over others. A break in any of the layers of this continuum, we have found, appears to have a significant impact on a unitís sense of on-going stability and flexibility.
September 24, 1998
To: Lorelie Mansur (Chair), Imani Abalos, Mary Ann Mahoney, Margaret
McCormick, Scott Miller, Milt Ternberg
From: Penny Abell: Interim University Librarian
Re: Public Service Support Staff Analysis Task Force
Thanks to the new funding from the Chancellorís Initiative, the Libraryís operating budget has stabilized for the first time in years and we will be able to replace positions that have become vacant through attrition. Therefore, I have instructed the libraryís senior managers that they have the authority to replace library assistant positions when existing staff leave library employment. LPG and I will still need to review which librarian positions, once vacated, can be filled.
Given the reality of a stable budget and operations at the current level, I believe itís time to start working on a longer-range staffing plan for the Library. As a first step, I am asking for your help in better understanding our staffing patterns for support staff (i.e., mostly library assistants and student employees). In particular, I am interested in identifying severely under-staffed units.
The scope of this charge is to:
review current support staff allocations in public service units and assess their "reasonableness" as related to factors such as population served and workload indicators.
Specifically, I ask that you:APPENDIX B.
Iíd also ask that you assist me in keeping staff informed about this project Ė including reassurance that if a support staff member leaves the Library, s/he will be replaced and that in a very few instances, appointments will be made that are not budget neutral (i.e., they will require new funding).
- Review recent data and planning documents to look for data and recommendations relevant to this issue;
- Identify factors to be used in measuring workload (e.g., size of population served, materials use, technical processing tasks, etc.);
- Propose a methodology for measuring reasonable staffing levels;
- Use July 1, 1998 staffing data as the baseline for your analysis and;
- Provide a progress report to LPG by October 15, 1998 in which you describe the methodology you will pursue.
Gail Ford, Mike Rancer and Bernie Hurley will act as staff for your task force. Thank you in advance for agreeing to work on this important project!
Workload indicators used include:
The profiles for each unit include both career (permanent) and temporary assignments, and non-academic classifications other than Library Assistant I-V if the position contributes to the support of public services (e.g., Administrative Analyst, Administrative Assistant, etc.). In the case of DMCS, we include central Technical Services FTE devoted to routine processing of materials normally carried out directly by staff in public services units. These are all indicated in the unit profiles.
To best assess the resources available to each unit, non-19900 and non-Library funded positions and GA are included, and rotations are reported under the unit paying for the position. When a unit relies on rotational positions but is not paying for this staffing, it is indicated in the unitís profile notes.
Staffing specifically excluded from this study are FTE associated with functions unique to only a few public service units, e.g., catalogers engaged in original cataloging, curatorial assistants, Doe Service Desk staff, interlibrary loan and photoduplication staffing, and electronic reserves and digital library employees. Units which do not have public service functions, such as ROHO and Systems, are also excluded.