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:
    1. Identify any public service units that were most affected by cutbacks in Library Assistant (LA) staffing due to attrition,
    2. Identify any public service units whose stability are in question due to known events (e.g., scheduled loss of staff, seismic renovation, loss of rotational staff or non-19900 funding source, etc.), and
    3. Make specific recommendations for immediate staffing augmentation should monies become available and/or suggest strategies for helping to maintain staffing stability.

    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.

General Recommendations To Increase Staffing Stability And Efficient Use Of Resources:
    1. In consultation with AULís, allow units more flexibility in how they can spend their current GA allocations. As examples, such flexibility could include the ability to offer incentive pay to students during semester breaks to reduce discharging and shelving backlogs; ability to hire a student at a higher classification to perform more specialized functions and improve retention among such employees; or using GA to hire temporary LAís in cases where a permanent position may not be needed.
    2. In consultation with AULís, allow units the option of permanently converting a portion of their GA allocations to funding for career staff FTE. This may alleviate some problems for units who have had to increasingly reassign work to student and temporary employees which is more appropriately performed and/or supervised by career staff.
    3. If all, or part, of the Student Task Force recommendations is implemented, units will see an increase in their GA allocations. This increase will make it more practical to convert GA staff to LA, as the difference in pay between the two will be reduced.
    4. Ensure augmented support for units undergoing seismic renovation, perhaps in the form of a roving "seismic move support team" which could assist affected units with record cleanup, barcoding, processing volumes for storage or withdrawal, etc. Ripple effects on other units should also be noted, such as NRLF and other surge sites.
    5. For future consideration and follow-up:
      1. More experimentation with roving teams shared among several units to perform specific kinds of tasks such as a shelving and microfiche filing team, a serials entry or binding team, etc.
      2. An examination of longer-term staffing needs in relation to the kinds and level of services the Library should be providing or expects to be able to provide;
      3. A more holistic examination of Library staffing which includes both Librarians and LAís when analyzing needs in such areas as reference and bibliographic instruction, web development, and collection development.
Unit-Specific Staffing Recommendations:
    1. CHEM/OPTO: 1.0 FTE LA II (.75 for CHEM, .25 for OPTO; CHEM would also give additional backup to OPTO if needed).
    2. BUSI: Convert newly approved 11-month temporary 1.0 LA II to permanent career position (this new temporary appointment is not reflected in the spreadsheets).
    3. ENVI: $3,000 increase in GA allocation.
    4. DMCS: Examine the balance between GA allocation and LA FTE and rebalance within and among units as needed, e.g., consider converting DMCS GA funds to increase LA FTE in PNM and Doe Circulation (budget neutral action).
Summary Findings: The Interpretive Context
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:

    1. Lack of staffing depth -- simply not having enough bodies to cover the most basic services for keeping the doors open if a staff member is absent. This most deeply affects small units but also has ripple effects on cluster units or other larger units who help support the smaller ones in a crunch. OPTO, with less than 1.0 career staff FTE, has been greatly impacted.
    2. Problems in student employee pay levels and classification, recruitment, retention, and attendance. In some cases, units have not been able to spend the GA budgets they have been allocated because they are not able to recruit or retain students.
    3. Imbalance between career staffing levels and GA allocation, with an increasing reliance over the years on student and temporary employees to perform and supervise work formerly assigned to career staff. This greatly contributes to many unitsí sense of staffing instability. Results include a perceived loss in productivity and service quality, and less than desired levels of supervision, expertise, training and cross-training. Doe/Moffitt Circulation Services (DMCS) appears to be a dramatic example of such an imbalance: it is staffed with only 19% of the career FTE projected by the Task Forceís quantitative model, and this 19% oversees 215% of the projected GA. While not ignoring the excellence of its current staff, LAís and students alike, it is questionable if LA staffing levels here are sufficient to adequately train and supervise the number of existing students.
    4. Short-term impact on units undergoing seismic retrofit. These units not only expect service disruptions and cutbacks during construction and moves, but also anticipate the need for temporary extra staffing to help them with physical moves, required record cleanup, barcoding, weeding of their collections, etc.
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.)

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.

About The Methodology:
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.

Public Services Staffing Analysis Task Force, 4/19/99
Imani Abalos
Mary Ann Mahoney
Margaret McCormick
Lorelie Mansur, Chair
Scott Miller
Milt Ternberg
assisted by: Bernie Hurley, Mike Rancer and Gail Ford

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: 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).

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:

Library Assistants:
Number of reference questions
Number of BI sessions
Number of BI individuals
Total use (circulation + sweeps + staff mediated renewals)
Number of directional/informational questions
Items on reserve
Items sent to NRLF
Number of volumes added
Serial pieces entered
Items sent for initial binding
LA FTE, 19900 funded
LA FTE, non-19900 (Library)
LA FTE, non-Library funded
Total LA FTE
Ratio of workload indicators to total LA FTE
GA budget:
Total use (circulation + sweeps + staff mediated renewals)
Search requests taken
Items on reserve
Items sent to NRLF
Number of volumes added
Serial pieces entered
Items sent for initial binding
Items mended or rebound
Items relabeled
Microfiche added and filed
Loose leaf sheets filed
GA budget, 19900
GA budget, non-19900 (Library)
GA budget, non-Library funded
Total GA budget
Ratio of workload indicators to total GA budget
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.