1 Succession Planning for Library Instruction INTRODUCTION Issues of succession affect library instructors in less traditional ways than many other librarians. One major reason is that the group of librarians who perform instruction often changes frequently Many academic libraries may hire master of library science (MLS) candidates to perform instruction, often only for one or two semesters Many i nstruction departments display a fairly flat hierarchy, in which leaders primarily direct departmental goals Heads of instruction departments are often mid career librarians, thus the decades long process of developing leadership familiar to other departments often does not apply. The succession related challenge that matt ers most to many library instructors is the passing on of institutional knowledge that colleagues have collected over time. Department level information such as best practices and policies needs to be passed on, as well as more personal collections of info rmation such as lesson plans. This paper will focus on the types of information that library instructors frequently collect and pass on, and will outline best practices for doing so. Not all academic libraries have a discre te instruction department. For example, some libraries have subject specialists from the reference depar tment provide most instruction, while others have public service librarians who provide a wide range of services that includes instruction. Many larger library systems will have subj often working with the same or overlapping groups of patrons, while based in separate libraries and/or working under different managers. This arrangement adds complexity in dissemina ting institutional knowledge, gauging skills and needs, and planning for the future across the organization This paper will who regularly perform instr uction. ideas in this paper will apply. LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction Scholarly literature contains next to no commentary on succession planning for library instruction. Searching th e major library and information science databases for articles on succession and library instruction produces only a handful of articles, few of which have practical commentary. Books on succession planning for academic and other libraries tend to discuss planning for succession of leadership positions. Talented leadership among library instructors certainly fosters quality instruction b ut individual library instructors are often responsible for their own content and outreach. According to the Canadian A article ( 8Rs 2005) succession planning began with efforts to replace upper level managers who retire, but now has
2 spread to planning in the whole organization. This is important to library instruc tion departments for multiple reasons. Often numerous people provide pieces of the same service to an institution. Fostering continuity helps give clear, unified messages on instruction. Thus instructors need to feel that they are contributing to a contin ual shared body of knowledge rather than creating their own discrete bodies of information Often the department head provide s instruction too and may function more as a peer to other instructors rather than a traditional supervisor. Managerial vs. Tec hnical Succession Planning One of the major distinctions that instruction departments need to consider is between managerial and technical succession planning as defined by Hawthorne (2011). Managerial succession f the organization and emphasizes who developing skills among staff and planning for future promotion and replacement. In an academic library, this would likely mean training new librarians with thoughts of future promotion and responsibility. Over time, the newer librarian would learn to supervise others, to participate in major institutional planning efforts, or to hold more authoritative positions on university level committees. These actions would all help to horizontal level of the organization and emphasizes what. The primary purpose is to develop knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies for positions and fu nctions across the organizational chart (Hawthorne 2 ). With proper planning, librarians with simi lar levels of responsibility should be able to cover duties for each other. For example, the humanities and social sciences librarians at a particular instit ution might train each other to lead Hawthorne recommends that libraries first decide which kind of planning is necessary (or both), and then document which specific leadership skills are needed for manager ial planning and which skills are needed for technical planning, especially the ones tha t may evolve in the near future (Hawthorne 4). Librarians do not seem to feel overly assured of their success in technical or managerial succession planning. The C performed two studies in 2003 and 2004 involving over 3,000 librarians in Canada named for their focus retirement and leaders found the managerial skills of senior librarians more difficult to replace than technical skills of the same group of people The current pool of talent was also considered inadequate to replace needed managerial skills in 46% of libraries, and considered lacking in technical skills in asked about competencies that their MLIS program provided, 63% of new professionals (those in the field for less than six years) believed they had learned the general skills required for their positions.
3 However, far fewer believed they had learned the necessary management skills (25%), leadership skills Technical succession planning is often addressed by literature on regular staff training in libraries. Ideally, a thorough skills ass essment and targeted training regimen will develop technical and managerial skills simultaneously. Getting technical succession planning right depends on addressing needs that are unique to each library. The skills and abilities required by technical pla nning may vary greatly in academic, public and special libraries, and will be influenced by the size of and specialization of staff. However, almost all of the literature on succession planning in libraries discusses managerial planning in much greater de pth than technical planning. Articles on managerial planning are relevant to almost all libraries, either because of common organizational schemes or common succession patterns in libraries. Succession Planning in the Library: Developing Leaders, Managing Change (2010) covers a range of topics within succession planning in libraries Instruction receives little attention; however, sections on basic principles of managerial planning may provide guidance for departmental leadershi p. Roth well (2005) is cited very often by librarians and managers who have developed succession plans in their libraries, though his book is intended for a general audience. Whitmell (2002 and 2005), Singer Goodrich & Goldberg (2004), McMahan and Masias (2009) and Nixon (2009) provide very clear guidelines and checklists for effective managerial planning in libraries specifically. Broadly, these include securing commitment at all levels, performing needs assessments, identifying, training and evaluating talent, and planning for actual hiring. These reflect the tendencies of Bridgland (1999) also gives excellent lists of benefits of succession planning in libraries and common probl ems with implementation. She reminds us that intended and unintended benefits are conferred even when actual replacement isn't happening. Besides creating more high achievers and providing more opportunities for them, succession planning involves fying replacement needs as a means of front line employees and allows for evolution (Bridgland 22) Inclusive training and planning should mult iculturalism in organizations dgland does remind readers that environment but it is precisely this type of environment in which many instruction librarians work (Bridgland 24) Whitmell (2002) recognizes that success in library jobs is less and less defined by specific technical skills and that training librarians for the future will require a greater focus on leadership and people ski lls. Singer Goodrich & Goldberg (2004) also emphasize budgeting, career planning, supervisory skills, exposure to new people and challenges, networking and relationship building, in fluencing without authority, leadership, Whitmell (2005) discusses important differences
4 between internal and external planning and emphasizes that libraries need to market themselves as part of strategic planning and to attract needed talent. Growing Leaders within Your Organization and Department A large proportion of the literature discusses strategies for developing leadership capabilities among employees. McMahan and Masias (2009) outline the majo r strategies in four succinct options : and Masias 2). Much of the effort by libraries in strategic planning training and the time, and if libraries are well level and then preparing them for leadership engaging staff from other libraries or other sectors of the economy on a short term basis. McMahan and Masias give the results of a workforce assessment survey and give clear recommendations on assessing st aff talent, which is often a first step in succession planning but which is outside the scope of this paper future leaders that are already part of the organization. Whitmell ( 2002) discusses the broader needs that libraries have to on, mentoring and networking. Generally there is eeds arise. Current employees already know generally what your department needs when you begin succession planning. Their skills can be assessed quickly, and involving them in succession planning may increase long term retention and morale, giving manage best new employees you can, then give them opportunities to grow and reasons to stay with your organi Recruiting from outside for leadership positions is a last resort, though many libraries may find it necessary despite good planning. Nixon (2009) provides a thoughtful discussion of how to identify and train potential leaders The author found house candidates, implying that plan in place. Nixon gives specific ideas for formal and informal leadership training, including job rotation, job shadowing, and a variety of new responsibilities for mid career librarians (Nixon 12). Some of these ideas are echoes of Singer Goodrich & Goldberg (2004), whose article formed the bul k of Nixo s like these can help administrators use the planning process to incentivize loyalty and longevity in early and mid career librarians. Numerous sources emphasize the aging of the librarian population. One of t he most
5 P l essis The authors provide extensive data on age groups, retirement, and employment in several sample countries including the United States (2010). Data provided in this article can support discussions of aging and the resultant need for greater succession planning. For example, they discuss the actual range of ages of librarians who work in various types of libra ries (4). Although the actual numbers of librarians by age group will vary by organization, understanding age structure will give libraries ideas on how much they need to plan for retirements versus departures related to taking new opportunities Van der W alt and du Plessis also provide frank discussion of some practicalities re lated to age in the workplace, such as how likely it is that a younger manager will supervise a much older employee. The article discusses how such working relationships may progress and how this shapes life in the workplace (3 4). Finally, Mataraz s (2010) article about scenario planning reminds us that there are many future possibilities and we should keep an open mind. The future is not already written, but succes sion planning can help libraries respond to a wide range of threats and opportunities quickly. Administrators and managers need to imagine the unthinkable as well as the well anticipated and commonplace. Knowledge Management Literature on knowledge ma nagement in libraries provides guidance on storing and sharing knowledge and information. Commentary on technologies for knowledge management can help instructors select products to purchase for their libraries. Many of these articles discuss information a rchitecture schemes to use with these products. As we discuss later on using appropriate information architecture for storing inform ation greatly aids findability. Rah, Gul, and Wani discuss important features of technologies for knowledge management. Th ey discuss the skills needed to implement these systems, as well as terminology especially important in k nowledge management (2009). Octavia Luciana Porumbeanu discusses ways that libraries across Romania use web based knowledge management systems to meet Brief case studies suggest numerous types of information that libraries have captured and shared with their systems. Porumbeanu also highlights specific technological and IT skill requirements for setting up these syst ems (2010). Babu and Gopalakrishnan provide detailed discussion of knowledge management systems in which individuals who perform related tasks store and share information. (2008). They highlight realities of modern corporate and institutional life. For ex ample, very few individuals plan to take a job for life as members of previous generations did. Employers must accept this fact and plan with actual patterns of ion The more time members of an organization spend recreating what has been lost after a member leaves, the less time they can spend building upon what was created (20). They also provide interesting guidelines for performing knowledge management in disc ussion based settings. For example, those who
6 (21). Both of these principles will help the next generation of employees inherit knowledge from their predecess ors while adapting it to their own needs and styles. Common Patterns of Succession for Instruction Librarians including the size of the library, the average level of experience of library staff, other demographic factors and various technical and managerial issues. Some common patterns emerge, however, in reviewing the literature and observing some trends throughout the library world. Each library has its own patterns of librarians being hired and taking other positions or retiring. For instance, a particular academic library may display a pattern in which its librarians tend to s tay for ten to fifteen years, with a large body of graduate assistants who wor k at the library for only a year or two One results from many smaller patterns that are overlaid. For example, everal long time employees retired around the same time, and new librarians replac ed them. As graduate assistants helped to cover the teaching load during the transition, several among their numbers graduated or found other jobs. The interactions of these two common patterns created a complicated transition time. Instruction department s, with their complex interactions of people and functio ns, need to make at many institutions, librarians primarily plan for succession when a librarian sta tes his or her intent to leave. In the few weeks or months while this librarian prepares for change, he or she will likely sift through files, deciding what to leave a successor, and perhaps write out a record o f important duties to carry on or contacts, or passwords Much high quality information is often left out. Knowledge management, in this case the organized recording and sharing of departmental information is therefore a key concept Instructors aid healthy succession when they make a point to sa ve and organize the pieces of information that truly shape their work lesson plans, departmental best practices for creating instructional materials, lists of contacts for various functions, and so on. Their successors with input from colleagues, will n eed to decide how closely to follow these i deas What matters is that detailed information was recorded at the time it was generated or changed, and made available in a way that colleagues can find and use it should they choose to do so. The factors that lead to these patterns are, not surprisingly, complex and convoluted. Opportunities for promotion within the library play a large role. Geography and proximity to similar institutions can also play roles While identifying and interpreting the se factors gi ves important information to administrators, it does not fall within the scope of this paper Career Long Employment
7 Some academic libraries tend to hire librarians and keep them for much or all of their careers. This may seem unbelievable to librarian s who have not worked in such an environment. Joining the staff of such a library has its positive and negative aspects particularly for new librarians One of the biggest challenges for new staff is feeling like the new kid in class for much longer tha n one would at a library with a shorter pattern of change. Departments like this can also develop problems with ingrained assumptions on how things need to be done. Some librarians may frequently refer to methodologies and attempts at change that failed in the past though the past may have been twenty years ago. The positive side of the trade off is often that many colleagues have stayed at their jobs out of enjoyment or satisfaction. They may have developed a sense of community that welcomes new employee s. In terms of succession planning, libraries with significant rates of career long employment can pose serious challenges. While an individual may have managed his or her own knowledge well over a 40 year career, organizing it and passing it on to a succe ssor can be nightmarish. Even a diligent recorder of institutional knowledge has made choices about what to save and what not to save over decades. An instruction librarian who has taught sessions on psychology research methods may not have written detaile d lesson plans in years, simply out of comfort. He or she may have many unspoken agreements on what information and services to provide to a particular faculty member or department. Retirements after a long career that includes instruction may well feel l ike a regime change, both for the librarian who takes up the position and for academic departments that used the retiring should collect or create details on the services he or she has provi members who regularly receive instruction. Schedules for recurring outreach opportunities may need the same attention -for example, a new librarian who comes to fill a position will not know if a particular department expects a library instructor to perform its new faculty orientation every fall semester, and so on. Sample lesson plans prove themselves tremendously useful, especially for upper division courses and interdisciplin duplicated and saved elsewhere. Both departing and incoming librarians need to communicate change to academic departments. Academic faculty members who have worked with a particular library in structor for years will want to know that he or she is leaving. For the incoming librarian, this situation presents the opportunity to create real change in instruction. Stepping Stone Employment Other libraries display a distinct pattern of librarian s arriving and leaving much more often. Instructors in these environments often simply find it challenging to hang on to information. If seven chance that a lot
8 of w ork has either been lost or duplicated, and clear teaching priorities are less likely to emerge Constant change also means that individual instructors have to work harder to make sure they have a However, t his sort of scenario may make it easier to convince instructors to organize and share their knowledge as a matter of habit. Efficient systems and better communication tend to emerge naturally. More frequent changes in staff can also lessen th e impact when someone does leave and librarians While these varieties of emotional response do not have to affect colleagues deeply, in reality they do. Many acade mic libraries employ graduate student assistants to provide some library instruction These students often belong to master of library science programs, but some libraries hire students with other areas of expertise. These individuals often cover instruct ion for freshman composition and other introductory courses, and sometimes more advanced instruction in subjects they have studied. These graduate students usually work at a library for only a year or two, based on the length of their degree programs and their own academic needs. While this is normal and expected, s uch short spans of employment necessitate strong organization of materials. It also means that one graduate assistant may make all the arrangements for a particular event or instruction sessio n, but then have to pass all the plans along to another. Graduate assistants may also plan instruction sessions taught by librarians, and vice versa. These patterns provide unique challenges and solutions. Graduate student instructors require training and feedback, and many will want to have established templates for teaching. More change within a department can mean there is more focus on proven material and less on developing style, if lesson plans are simply passed down and no permanent em ployees have taken ownership of them and improved them over time. Department heads should empower graduate students to create lesson plans and shape the curriculum, so that t he constant change will lead to innovation instead of stagnation and to less disr ra rians move on Strong communication between graduate assistants and permanent library instructors is key. follo system, rather than accidentally developing parallel systems. Finally, library administrators can also affect succe ssion among library instructors At mo st libraries, upper administration changes on a different cycle than the rest of the library. Directors and department heads may change more frequently than the general body of employees does and the opposite may happen as well. Administration varies wide ly among libraries; some administrators have a notably hands off attitude toward functions such as instruction. Others do not. A change in administrative regime can sometimes bring new guidelines to library instructors. Such guided change in a department r equires library instructors to work closely and pass information to each other as they go.
9 While this is not strictly succession planning, it often entails similar skills of storing and sharing knowledge. Lesson plans, details of outreach, and best practic es are often shared, just at a quicker rate. Good a dministrators will ensure that library instructors share techniques and practices amongst each other. They may prompt departmental discussions on best practices, or draft policies that can foster continua l sharing of knowledge For example, best practices might cover a yearly cycle of outreach or assessment of learning for each librarian. Those who have not already adopted su ch practices, through succession planning or otherwise, will then have the opportu nity to start, for the greater good of the department. Additional Factors Other qualities of the group as a whole strongly affect succession planning for instructors. Characteristics of individuals, numbers of staff members, cultural factors affecting ge nerations, and the aforementioned patterns of turnover shape needs for planning. The size of a group of instructors plays a strong role. Not surprisingly, the larger the number of people providing instruction at a library, the more kn owledge should be stored and the more complicated knowledge management and succession planning become However, t here is also a higher chance that any given instructor will be able to retrieve a piece of information from his or her coll eagues. The challen ge becomes locating that information, if it even exists. One of the authors remembers asking each of about fifteen colleagues whether they had a copy of a syllabus from a past semester of a particular course. One of the fifteen did indeed have a copy but the author wasted nearly two hours obtaining it. Following g ood knowledge management practices will reduce occurrences like this one. Generational and age divisions among librarians in a department also shape group interactions and planning of successio n. Departments in which instructors belong to a range of ages and generations function much differently than departments in which the majority of employees belong to a single age group. Some concepts such as teaching use of the print reference collection o r beta testing of new online tools create debate along generational lines. Departments in which a large number of people plan to retire around the same time can start to either plan for succession in great detail or pretend that the change is not coming. M any other authors have discussed fostering positive working relationships among generations in the library. Detailed suggestions from these sources will not revolutionize workplaces, but can provide guidance for making small changes, particularly in terms of communication. Expected versus Unexpected Turnover In practicall y every workplace there is a major difference between employees leaving at expected and unexpected times. When a student assistant is about to graduate or a librarian approaches a long awaited retirement, planning can be orderly and gradual. When an early or mid
10 career librarian accepts a new position and suddenly plans to leave in a few weeks, change is much more abrupt and often chaotic The latter situation in particular emphasizes t he need for continual recording of knowledge. Both scenarios benefit from libraries having protocols for succession planning planning for the types of information that need to be passed on, and to whom (see Documents to Save ). The in formation provided in this list will help individuals to plan ahead in terms of saving and organizing documentation. Supervisors can also support their departments by reminding colleagues of the documents they need to save and the reasons for doing so. The goal should be to plan so that unexpected turnover leads to minimally more disruption than expected turnover. Whatever the pattern at a particular library, library instructors should ensure three things: 1. Continual recording of select knowledge 2. Clear, org anized sharing of knowledge when an employee is replaced 3. Agreement about how and where knowledge is stored and shared Keeping these factors in mind helps librarians anticipate and more gracefully handle future transitions making the difference between a sm ooth transition and a frenzy when an individual leaves. Best Practices for Talent Quality succession planning will give managers and administrators a clear course of action for most of the work has to be done before that critical time. Unless your library is in a period of unusual turnover or is creating a number of new positions at once, s kills training and management training for employees already in the library will represent the core of your planning effort s For management training, figure out who in your department is likely to stay with the organization in the long term and/or might want to become a leader. They will require strong training in managerial philos ophies and techniques. Have them offer their thoughts on management issues with managers and administrators. Think about assigning mentors to them, or even making them mentors to other staff. Give them special projects to do or other heightened responsi bilities, which will reinforce project management skills and help put philosophy into practice. Some of these and other techniques are discussed by Singer Goodrich & Goldberg (2004) and Bird (2005). Updating technical skills through targeted training is at least as important in providi ng effective everyday services. Unlike in managerial planning p lanners can invite the whole department to technical skills training sessions and improvements in skills can be seen immediately E mployees in most instruct ion departments should have skills that largely overlap, including proven teaching effectiveness to students that resemble your primary group of patrons. Library leaders in charge of succession
11 planning should think broadly when planning training, and pur posely send staff to conferences, in person workshops, webinars and other events that help address specific gaps in knowledge and skills. Leaders should also broadly consider the gathering of ideas. Formal or inf ormal discussions with staff should be ong oing and annual or regular performance reviews are regular opportunities to assess a technical and managerial capacities. Administrators should not allow an exit interview to go to waste, either, as these are times when some employee s are exceptionally candid. Once they have a realistic inventory of skills in your department and a reasonable picture of the needed skills in the future, leaders will be ready to identify who will be trained and what skills they should be acquiring. W ith a full and accurate assessment, they may not have to hire a new person to fill the shoes of a departing employee. Or, if hiring is necessary they will know just what they are looking for and can act more quickly Libraries benefit from looking beyon d the expected promotions and departures to more drastic or sudden events, like budget cuts, serious illness or even disasters Whitmell (2002 and 2005) discusses the importance of considering employees who do not yet work at an organization when planning training Conferences and other professional development activities are excellent opportunities to provide training for students, young librarians and other potential hires. They are also excellent opportunities for networking and marketing your organiz ation, which may help better match a If a library decides to hire, the new instructor will have to figure out how to maximize the use of his or her own skills and experience within the departmental framework. Existing instructors will be able to communicate some necessary information during the hiring process, but new hires should spend some time surveying the working environment themselves and drawing their own conclusions. A good ins tructor will i mmediately become fam iliar with the daily operations of the whole library, but especially their department, including who might be a good mentor or a likely source for particular information to help close knowledge gaps quickly This proces s is undoubtedly smoother and more humane when new hires are assigned an official mentor, or when a number of colleagues take on the role unofficially, as they often will. New hires often wonder how much latitude they are allowed in shaping their own job description A confident manager or administrator should address this issue first ensuring that the needs of the i nstruction department are met and encouraging new hires to t alk openly about what did and did not work in their previous positions. It is also common to come into a new position and be but encouraging openness and dialogue will help make use of valid criticism, and will help avoid the negative effects of unspoken concerns New hires need to remember that there may be a very good reason for differences in services and resources between their old and new positions, such as markedly different primary patron groups. However, a new hire may offer very useful criticism ; gathering their feedback also helps form open an d respectful relationships.
12 New instructors, as well as those with leadership positions, should avoid implementing changes solely for the sake of change. In the near term, it may be best for new hires to rely on their colleagues ideas about which direction the department is moving and how quickly If the new hire is being brought in to help change things, have them assess lesson plans and other documents as soon as they are comfortable consulting primarily with faculty they wi ll be teach ing for All materials should be saved to help assess these new documents later. If the new hire is brought in more to provide continuity, let them get teaching experience first and try to follow a majority of the advice they are given by thei r colleagues. It may take a semester, a year, or more before new librarians fully understand their role or their key responsibilities. Leaders should do their best to s hield the new hire from mistakes that have been made in the past. These vary tremendou sly between departments and institutions, but e xperienced planners will be aware of them. They should a lso remember that these early conversations with new hires should help them visualize which expectations are formal and which are informal. A set of fo rmal expectations which are key to succession planning, will help them perform according to the needs of the department, and will help them assess their own progress alone or in concert with supervisors. Instruction departments should give the new hire v ery clear ideas about the kinds of classes they will be teaching: basic or advanced, subject specific or general, already assigned or still being created. This can help them prioritize. Help them set up a calendar of classes and other responsibilities a nd help them structure their time in and out of the classroom Will the new hire be creating lesson plans from scratch at first? Make sure they have time to do this and give them access to all of the already existing lesson plans for more routine assignm ents which good succession planning dictates will already be available. Often, especially if instructors have duties as departmental liaisons, they will need to perform outreach to faculty and department heads to set up instruction sessions. A mentor or department head should introduce new hires to academic department heads, departmental library liaisons, administrative assistants, and other key staff or faculty, and help pave the way for outreach. If the new hire has official liaison duties with key faculty, they should start a dialogue as soon as possible. They should favorite portions of past instruction sessions. This allows the new instructor to craft a first ins truction session that is up to date yet fits th Many new and veteran librarians have gotten advice from their colleagues about an instruction session or a program, only to find out at the last minute that a professor has som ething else in mind. There may be major differences between faculty expectations and the ideas of other members of the department. Attending departmental or curriculum based meetin gs with several faculty members present is a good opportunity to assess th e range of personalities and ideas they Instructors should always focus on teaching to the specific needs of their student body, and some new hires may find that their new campus environment is significantly different than their old on e. Encourage instructors to dive into the data. Have them see what kinds of assessments your department
13 does, and how students have performed on these assessments. Comparing assessments with lesson plans, can the new instructor give any feedback about h forget to share faculty feedback as well as assessments of student learning. Over time, h ave new hires read recent annual reports, student surveys or the results of focus groups and other efforts to expose anyt Another possibility is to invite faculty members to join a discussion, especially library champions or designated departmental liaisons. They will be able to most library administrators. N ew hires in every department often receive an overwhelming amount of official documentation when they first arrive. They are likely to overlook important documents and may not know which ones are the most important until mon ths l ater A key part of succession planning occurs when n ew hires ask for documentation about something and help create new documentation or bring older information back into the departmental knowledge base. Ab ove all, new hires in instruction departments should remember that they are part of a unit and that their individual actions will contribute to the success or failure of the department for years after they themselves have moved on After a defined peri od of time, do a review to see if the skills of the new hire have matched expectations Assess how the new hire has performed and how they fit into the new department Remember to focus on anticipated and unanticipated benefits the new hire brought to th e department, in te chnical or in leadership skills. Discovery future new hires. While many instruction departments use a training checklist to orient new hires, this checklist and associated procedures should be reviewed together with the new hire. Ask the new person what they wish they had known and what they would m ost like to tell a new person What do they still have to ask people about? Do they know where to go to ask people? Have them add directly to the training spot errors or outdated information. H ave them train and help assess the next new person, as part of a team. Engage in classroom observations, not just observing the new person, but having the new person observe others, and record what they take away from this. Do they seem to understand what the str ategic goals of the department and the library are? If they quit tomorrow, do you know where to find what you would need to continue their work? Separating Institutional Knowledge from Gossip Good succession planning means structurally limiting the amo unt of incomplete, incorrect, or unproductive information that is shared, and bringing to the light and sharing widely the most accurate, timely and useful information. But much practical information does not come in the form of documents,
14 or of official c onversations with committees and department heads. In reality, a significant part of the succession process occurs verbally and informally and in no way systematically One challenge for both new librarians and those who provide them with information i nvolves differentiating between institutional knowledge and gossip. M uch of the i nformation librarians pass to new colleagues is somewhere in the middle For example, think of all the information a new library story of working with a tenured faculty member. They on why Dr. Thompson is deci dedly unpleasant to work with. Think of ways the library can minimize the effect of gossip structurally. Have group orientations, for instance, where many people offer opinions to the new hire together. Then when something comes up about Dr. Thompson, there may be other people who can neutralize the negativity and/or sha re positive anecdotes as well. Sharing in a group means legitimate issues are out in the open and new hires and old hands alike will rely less on gossip Realistically speaking, though, both new hires and veterans will ask for and share information. Fo r librarians who help prepare a new colleague, the situation is complicated and remember that no two pairs of people will have the same chemistry. Dr. Thompson may get along just fine with the new librarian. Conversely, a faculty member who had a wonderful relationship with a past librarian may prove difficult for the new library instructor to work with recent interactions. Librarians who have worked at the same institution for fifteen years may not mentio a negative interaction years in the past may have been trying, the people in question deserve a second chance. New hires and veterans each shoulder the burden of sharing and inter preting responsibly. Best practices for documentation For all of the documents listed below, see if they are updated each semester, or after talking to ones, because they can be useful in seeing where the department has come from and where it is headed. Are you able to find any meeting minutes? If so, study the older ones as well as the recent ated into actual changes or actual work, but it colleagues and revive an effort that may have been lost. One important note: authors should include their na mes and dates of composition on each document! Material Saved Individually or by Department? Lesson plans Individually with other materials created for the
15 same instructor Assignments and syllabi from instructors Individually with other materials c reated for the same instructor Assessments (pretests, posttests, etc.) Saved individually Schedules of instruction Saved by department archived permanently Meetings minutes Saved by department or individually maybe saved permanently, maybe get rid of eventually Annual reports (department or library level) Saved by department archived permanently Statistics Saved by department archived permanently Instructor training documents Saved individually or by department Job descriptions Saved by department or manager Forms for faculty requests, cover letters Saved by department Table 1: Documents to save and pass on. Knowledge Management Systems and Avoiding Duplication of Effort Knowledge management is the strategic collection, organization, and sharing of information in appropriate formats and to appropriate people at the right time. Knowledge management makes it possible for one person to store a piece of information and for another colleague to find it without there. Good knowledge management systems store information in ways that are intuitive for the people who use them, and help both with daily sharing of information and transitions between departing and new employees. At some academic libraries, a relativel y large number of people provide library instruction including dedicated instruction librarians, subject specialists, graduate assistants, and sometimes interested librarians from other departments. All of these instructors create materials for their instr uction sessions, schedule classes and orientations, and make a variety of personal notations on plans, preferences, and more. upon what information belongs where. Paradoxically, individual freedom is just as important as group control. Developing common sense, large scale organizational schemes tends to prove more useful in the long run. Department heads or those in charge of planning clarify the types of information that must be
16 saved, and where it will be saved. They also make clear where librarians should keep anything else that they choose to save. This allows both intuitive finding for the group as a whole and professional judgment among individuals. Such a system has its im perfections. Instructors who permanently leave the library have to actively pass on their materials. Still, colleagues can guess that information exists and come up with a scheme to find it. They can find out whether a particular professor has had library instruction before, determine which library colleagues have provided that instruction, and ask to see their past materials if they choose. Technology assists greatly in managing knowledge. The most popular options for group knowledge management at this point are intranets, wikis, and shared drives. The library literature is full of discussions of knowledge management systems, and i nterested librarians should search for current articles about them. Web librarians and IT departments can provide additional suggestions for current options. Avoiding Duplication of Effort Duplication of effort can waste remarkable amounts of time. In the context of library instruction, it often happens something like this: A b rand new instruction librarian accepts duties perf orming outr each to the biology department. She d ecides that creating a list of contact information for all faculty members and teaching assistants in the biology department would help organize her efforts. She asks her colleague if the librarian for whom she took over maintained a list of contacts. The colleague replies that her predecessor seemed t o do keep the list in his head. The l ibrarian asks the biology depa rtment if such a list exists, is told that it is not, and s pends a full afternoon creating one. Two months later, she cabinet behind her. The story sounds familiar to most librarians. Lists of contacts go missing, calendars of yearly outreach opportunities (such as annual campus events, lecture series, and faculty meetings) and lists of standards for creation of materials disappear unless departments agree upon where documents shared by the group are stored. When multiple options are in use, confusion is almost inevitable. Several things help avoid duplication of effort. When a department agrees on which information is kept by individuals and which is stored by a group, it helps new librarians determine where the information they want would be kept. For example, knowing that each individual keeps lesson plans in save massive amounts of time. Rather than assuming that everyone knows where documents are locate d, libraries need to move toward practices that help everyone search effectively for documents and information For example, a library might decide to create a folder for each campus faculty member that the library has taught for. The folder might contain subfolders for each individual session that has been taught. A subfolder would hold documents that the faculty member has shared, such as a syllabus and assignments as well as any documents that the librarian created, such as assessments or in class
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