May 9th, 2011 Meeting Notes

Thank you to Kim Silk for taking great notes at the May 9th meeting.  This page is divided into three main sections:

I. Presentations notes:  Rather than include all the notes and my presentation I did for the meeting, I have listed many of my main presentation points in this section.

II. Issues and Points for Discussion at the University of Toronto Libraries where are listed the discussion points librarians at the meeting discussed and wanted to bring forward at a later meeting.

III. Next Steps.

If you would rather have the powerpoint and/or the more detailed notes, please email  me and I can send them along.

I. Presentation Notes:

1. I explained the reasons I wanted to set up this meeting. These are, as I mentioned in my emails:

  • Introspection is probably a good thing as a New Chief Librarian is set to start at U of T Libraries this summer
  • There are many good points that Mr. Trzeciak makes in his presentation. We need to focus on those points instead of the negative. This focus could foster a much better outcome to the meeting and generate even better ideas for UTL in moving forward.

2 – Presented the main points of the talk given by Jeff Trzeciak Transforming Organizations: McMaster 2006 – present.   My presentation focused first on the issues and challenges as seen by Mr. Trzeciak at McMaster Libraries. These included the following:

  • The library at McMaster was seen as being in decline and he was given a mandate to “shake things up”. (his words in the video). I posed the question, “I am not sure I know what decline means and how does one identify the decline?”
  • Mr. Trzeciak also argues that we are facing the “greatest challenge we have ever seen to libraries”
  • McMaster University is known for innovation, the library was behind in innovation and was asked to become innovative
  • McMaster got rid of all its reference desks and created blended desks because there were not enough staff to “man” all the desks, as well, reference statistics have been declining
  • University administration and faculty expressed to Mr Trzeciak that  “We don’t even know what you people do!”

3. The second part of the presentation focused on the solutions implement at McMaster libraries since 2006.  The main themes presented by Mr. Trzeciak were:

A. Vision

  • Individuals are needed who understand and have vision to make change happen
  • There is a short window of opportunity for these visions (the time is now?) – Because:

    • Libraries can get lost in administration at large institutions.
    • Libraries/Librarians in danger of being marginalized
  • We need to raise the profile of the library and we need to know where do we want to go?
  • You have to try new things, if you fail, you fail! (Something I mentioned is not entirely the case at the University of Toronto Libraries.)
  • We need to reinvent ourselves
    • McMaster got rid of all cataloguing
    • All reference desks removed
    • Every single position in the library was changed and everyone was reinvented.
    • New positions were created
    • Some staff were let go. Some voluntarily, some involuntarily

B. Vision – looking to your strengths

  • Look to strengths, support structures, and relationships on campus

    • OCUL / Can Research Knowledge Network
    • Budgets are in good condition with Canadian Dollar rise
  • Staff  (motivated and committed)

C. Implementing the Vision

  • Clarify the mission for change “…the library will be recognized as Canada’s most innovative, user-centred, academic library.”
  • Swift implementation of change: “don’t spend too much time talking about it, just get it done, pick a direction and go for it. Survival was dependent upon quick change.”
  • Integrate technology wherever you can
  • Focus on what makes you stand out:
  • Special Collections
  • Data: Group together the Research Data Centre, Data Library, Economic Data Centre, Health Data Centre
  • Establish the roles, responsibilities, and structure to support change
  • Transformation team looked at staff, facilities, resources…but mostly staff!
  • Staff: retirement (voluntary and not), upgrades to non-librarian staff
  • Librarians are no longer supervising or on desks in the libraries at McMaster
    ✤Librarians are now only dealing with Upper level undergraduate students, Graduate Students, and Faculty
    ✤Move towards more online videos because requests for instruction are dropping
    ✤Look away from building function. Should not look at your position as being tied to the building you work in.
    ✤New positions were created- mostly PhDs (postdocs) and IT graduates and McMaster will most likely not be hiring any more librarians!  Mr. Trzeciak explained that the library was “full up”.
    ✤Postdocs allows for sharing of cost of the position with an academic department. The same is done with McMaster Libraries Human Resources whereby the library shares HR duties with central McMaster Human Resources.
    ✤THEY (PhDs and IT folks) have skills we don’t have, explained Mr. Trzeciak
    ✤There was a need for new blood in the library. I asked wheter this was  “new blood for new blood’s sake?”
    ✤New areas to focus on: New media Centre (3 librarians involved); eScience; and digital humanities
    ✤The library is also taking on new roles such as the university records

II. Issues and Points for Discussion at the University of Toronto Libraries

  • Advocacy – support for the profession
  • Name – Library/Librarians libraries / information centres …not using libraries and librarian hurts our profession. Same with map vs. GIS
  • Code of Ethics / professional designation
  • Marketing of Collections and services
  •           Listening – what do communities want?
  • Experimentation
  • How to keep up with pace of change
  • Support and partnership with iSchool
  • Mission / Vision needed?
  • Assessment / Accountability / Quality assurance
  • Cost effective delivery of services to more with less – reaching more people electronically
  • Libraries as Academic unit
  • Organizational Structure
  • U of T Hierarchy mimicked in the library
  • Need: Flatter organization / Flexible /Teams
  • Is change required?
  • Advocacy – support for the profession
  • Name – Library/Librarians libraries / information centres
  • Code of Ethics / professional designation
  • Marketing of Collections and services
  • Listening – what do communities want?
  • Experimentation
  • How to keep up with pace of change
  • Support and partnership with iSchool
  • Education of Librarians
  • librarians as faculty council members
  • Skills for librarians
  • Mission / Vision
  • Assessment / Accountability / Quality assurance
  • Cost effective delivery of services to more with less – reaching more people electronically
  • Should be proactive – define what is an academic librarian
  • Relationship to content / subject specialty
  • Special Collections
  • What is an academic library for?
  • What is an academic library? = building / collections / services / (people)
  • Involvement in UTFA – Academic Advisory Council – Need to know what are we? what makes us an academic unit?
  • Discussion of how we serve our undergraduates
  • What is reference? How do we continue to do reference and offer other services.
  • All should be engaged in the mission of the library…staff, librarians, IT, photocopy technicians, etc.
  • Do we need a formal vision? and a vision statement?
III. Next Steps

  • Next steps
  • Distributing the information (wiki, online forum)
  • Second meeting (TBD) – May 17th is the Future of Academic Librarianship symposium at McMaster in Burlington. Many of us are attending the session.  It is best to wait until after that session to get together again.

One response to “May 9th, 2011 Meeting Notes

  1. Pingback: Future of Academic Librar* – Meeting 2 | the future of academic librarianship

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