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Library Administrative Manual

5.12 Professional Activities: Commitment of Time for Professional Activities, Committee Assignments, etc.

Administrative Guidelines:

Following the discussion "faculty overcommitment" at the Library Faculty meeting of 18 March 1981, I feel that it may be useful for me to share my expectations regarding such activities.

I should stress that the following represent my point of view only, not official library policies, since to some extent these areas are also covered in promotions and retention and tenure policies. However, within that framework, there are two major issues:

First, what constitutes an appropriate level of professional and committee activity for retention and tenure and promotion purposes? The librarian's principle commitment, as defined in effectiveness in library assignment and job performance, is to the library department, and in order, to the Library, to the University, to the profession and the community. Departmental and divisional committees which are integral to the functioning of those units are not, strictly speaking, library-wide committees, but are a part of the library assignment. In regard to library-wide and university committees, while I would not presume to instruct the Promotions or Retention and Tenure committees, I can advise that to my mind participation in two library-wide committees and one campus-wide committee during any one year represents a substantial commitment. As has been pointed out by others, the emphasis should be on the substance of the contribution, not the number of committees or their activities. I should also like to stress that it is quite acceptable to me for a member of the library faculty to make the judgment that a given committee assignment is not appropriate for that individual at that time, and to refuse the appointment.

The Library Promotions Policy points out under Professional Contributions and Achievements that achievement in all categories is not required. (7.8.3) In addition, the section on university service, which includes committee work, specifies "not necessarily at all levels". (7.8.4) The University Promotions Policy (5.6.2) states "beyond the primary emphasis on teaching ability to merit promotion, an individual must exhibit superior achievement in service in a single category, or significant achievement and service in more than one category". In addition, I believe that it is worth pointing out that promotions are based on accomplishments during that time in rank, which typically covers several years, so that not all accomplishments or activities need to take place in a single year.

When a librarian has a split assignment, either between library departments or between the library and other academic departments, professional activities and university service commitments should be similarly divided between those assignments.

The second issue of concern is streamlining committee functioning within the Library, so that library operations will benefit from the knowledge and consultation with all concerned but not place unfair demands on time commitments. Individual committees can help by considering within themselves how to streamline their operations, how to limit their own time commitments, and how to coordinate with their committees in the most efficient manner. Individual committees might choose to set aside specific limited meeting time and limit their activity to that time. Similarly, they might choose to negotiate or otherwise alter timelines and deadlines which have been set for them. The Policy (21) on Role and Function of Committees calls for review of the role and function of each standing committee at not more than three year intervals. I would suggest, however, that any committee which feels that it has either outlived its usefulness or overlaps substantially with another committee's activities should recommend its own dissolution or merger with the related committee at any time, not waiting for three years to elapse. For my part, I will try to see that committee charges do not overlap, to set reasonable timelines for committee activities and reports, and to generally appoint much smaller committees in order to eliminate the drain on staff and faculty time. The Assistant University Librarians are requested to do likewise where committee appointments and assignments fall within their purview.

While I am sure that the foregoing does not entirely respond to the problem or the need, I hope that it will be helpful in clarifying at least my expectations, and in giving us a common ground of understanding from which to work.

Prepared by Library Director: 4/2/81

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