Standard 5.D.1 - Personnel and Management
The Library has a highly dedicated, service-oriented staff. Small in number, the staff covers extensive hours, two locations and a wide array of information demands with a cheerful and effective approach. Five professional librarians, including the director, six paraprofessional staff and two clerical support staff, plus student assistants (mostly work-study students) make up the workforce of the Library. Librarians have 12-month Montana University System contracts as professional employees, rather than faculty contracts. While there are pros and cons to this, and the change from having librarians as faculty on 10-month contracts, which occurred during the last five to 10 years, was not altogether welcome, the current situation works well for the Library. All of the librarians are well qualified, stay current with considerable professional development, and are very service oriented. They work well in small teams on many projects, such as the recent redesign of the Library’s web sites.
In October 2005, a new position was created — Associate Director of Library Services — at least partly in response to the administrative evaluation of the Library Director, which suggested that having more than one person handling the administrative duties of the Library would be a progressive step. One of the librarians was appointed to the position and has been learning the array of administrative duties. This is indeed helpful to the Director, who is able to spend more time on fund-raising and on campus-wide responsibilities.
The Library service desks were combined in 2004 to provide seamless service, and the Reference function is carried out by librarians and paraprofessionals, while circulation functions are generally staffed by student workers, with paraprofessional supervision. The Information Commons is staffed by a work-study student supervised by IT staff. Students also receive help by telephone — typically when they need help in navigating through online resources — and by e-mail or chat.
A number of instructors request online tutorials from the Library as part of their online classes — the librarians are quite adept at working with online students. Librarians visit the COT frequently to give library instruction, to work with faculty and to advise the library clerks in the COT Library. The Associate Director has direct responsibility for management of the COT branch library.
The Library, being small, maintains a rather flat organizational structure, which works well. Librarians, including the Associate Director, report directly to the Director, who in turn reports to the Provost and Academic Vice Chancellor.
The paraprofessional staff is an extremely well qualified and experienced group — many of them have been in the Library over 10 years. They in turn supervise the student assistants. The specific responsibilities and duties of the librarians and staff change rather continuously, as the changes in the library world require. Position descriptions are examined and updated every year, and annual evaluations are used to ensure that necessary changes are being made. Continuous feedback from all levels of staff, in regular Library meetings and in daily communications, ensures that the Library keeps up with change and remains student-centered in its decision making.
There is very little turnover of full-time staff and librarians, making for a very stable work environment. Student workers, however, change every semester. One librarian and several staff members devote considerable time and effort to ongoing training of work-study students as a way to keep the Library user friendly and customer-service oriented.
- 6.2 Library Organizational Chart;
- 5.7 Library staff resumes/vitae
Librarians and paraprofessional staff are encouraged to be active in local, state, regional and national library organizations. Funding for conference attendance, presentation of papers or poster sessions, and giving workshops is not part of the state-funded budget, but funds are generally designated for these activities from the Library’s Foundation accounts.
Currently, library staff members hold office in PNLA, MPLA and the Montana Library Association, and participate in ALA and ACRL events regularly. On an educational level, we encourage library staff to further their education—all except the library clerks hold at least baccalaureate degrees. One library technician recently completed her MLS degree through a distance program in Texas, one librarian has just finished a Master’s in Public Relations here at MSU Billings, and three librarians have started on an Ed.D. program with a cohort from MSU in Bozeman.
Library staff are committed to hosting interns who need practical experience, especially while working on distance education MLS programs. During summer 2007, one librarian supervised two interns working on School Library Media endorsements through Montana State University in Bozeman.
The Library is enmeshed in the University community and reaches out to
the greater community in a number of ways. The Library Director and the Chief
Information Officer participate in the Provost’s Council, a weekly gathering of
deans and other academic administrators, along with key people from Student
Affairs and Administrative Affairs, which involves planning, decision-making and
information sharing. The CIO is also part of the Chancellor’s Cabinet, the most
senior administrative body in the University.
In recent years, Library staff developed the Library Lecture Series to showcase
interesting research or scholarly work of various MSU Billings faculty. Those
programs are held at various times during the academic year and draw attention
from other University personnel as well as the greater Billings community. The
library also provides space in the main entrance area for art or other exhibits. These
exhibits may be from outside organizations, or may be created by the Library staff,
such as the annual Quilt Show, featuring quilts from the University community, or
the Banned Books Week display.
Library personnel work well with units throughout the University and participate
in various efforts and projects with groups ranging from ASMSUB to the Safety Committee. They also volunteer their own time for many student events such as SummerFest, Foundation-sponsored events such as the annual Wine and Food Festival, and events organized by other academic units. An annual used book sale is held, in conjunction with the Billings chapter of the AAUW.
IT personnel also work with other groups broadly across all three campus locations. They are involved with efforts such as grant writing, research planning, classroom design and building renovation.
Evidence: 4. 7 and 6.10 Committee Minutes
As new programs are proposed, the librarians work with the dean, faculty and department involved to be sure that they are aware of new curriculum needs. There is rarely much state funding to support library resources for new programs; but if grant or other startup funds are anticipated, the Library requests some funding from that source. Librarians serve on various committees such as the Academic Foundations Committee and the Academic IT Committee, and watch for new proposals and changes in programs.
Financial support for the Library and IT resources and services, and for their maintenance, are addressed throughout Standard 5. In summary, the Library is supported by a combination of state funding, student fees, and interest from the Library’s endowment in the MSU Billings Foundation. Thanks to a generous corpus of funds donated in the 1990s and designated specifically for the Library, the Library’s endowment provides critical support in addition to state funding and student fees. Ongoing MSU Billings Foundation support enables the Library to better serve students, faculty, staff and the greater community. The Library Director participates actively in MSU Billings Foundation activities, and serves on its Board of Trustees.
While these sources provide adequate funding for baseline services and resources, it is difficult to plan for bold new initiatives with current funding levels. As the shared Community Library at the College of Technology comes closer to reality, there must be new funds available for additional staffing, more resource materials, and considerably longer hours of access to library services on the West campus.
MSU Billings does give the accepted inflation rate (generally between 7% and 9%) to the capital (library materials) budget each year — this is an inflationary factor agreed upon at the University System level. This is a helpful addition to revenues. Information Technology is funded from a variety of fees and sources and maintains a wide array and variety of equipment well
Evidence: 7.13 Operating Budget