Dean's Desk: Our Changing Organization
Dean Ralph Alberico
As 2008 moves to a close, I can’t help looking back and reflecting on the momentous changes the year has brought to JMU Libraries and Educational Technologies. The most visible change is the new library. In 2008, we saw the physical structure completed, the building filled with furniture and equipment, and the science collections moved in. As part of the collection move to the East Campus Library, all the collections in Carrier Library were re-arranged as well. In fact, during 2008 every book in JMU Libraries was moved.
Along with the collection move, there were many other important changes and events in our organization that were not so visible. We have a new delivery service, a new room scheduling system for Carrier and ECL, and a new video editing service for students in Carrier Library’s Media Resources. This summer the Center for Instructional Technology held another successful Summer Online Institute, and JMU Libraries partnered with the Center for Faculty Innovation to put on another successful Information Literacy Workshop. New online subject guides are under development, new software licenses are in place, and we recently acquired new graphic novel and comic book collections.
During 2008, new technology classrooms were added, bringing us very close to 100 percent saturation. We are providing new services in the classrooms, such as dual projection systems in Duke Hall, additional classrooms with clickers, and the implementation of the Classroom Recording and Streaming System, or CRASS, to assist in recording Communication Studies presentations in Harrison classrooms.
As an organization, we have offered new faculty development workshops, received new honors and awards, formed new and expanded partnerships on campus with the JMU Outreach Office, the General Education Program, Student Success, IT and the Center for Faculty Innovation and off campus with VIVA, other large schools in Virginia, and MDID users across the country and internationally… the list goes on and on and on.
Perhaps the biggest change in addition to our new building, is the expansion and changing nature of our workforce. As a result of intense staff recruitment, Libraries & Educational technologies has a new face – or, I should say, new faces. In early 2007, the entire L&ET organization of full-time and part-time faculty and staff numbered about 92; today total staff amounts to 128. That’s not counting the approximately 110 student workers. Much of this recruitment was to staff the new library building, but we have added a number of positions in Carrier Library as well.
The organization’s hiring push began in 2007 when we added about seven new positions, along with a small number of persons new to the organization who were hired to replace people who had left. L&ET added approximately 28 new positions in 2008: 16 were positions in the East Campus Library, six were new positions in Carrier, three new positions were added in Carrier CIT, and three in CIT East.
All these new hires have brought about another major transformation in our organization. One of every 3 people in L&ET did not work here a year ago. Further, 43 percent of L&ET faculty/staff were hired within the last two years, and more than half of our employees have been here less than three years. The increased size of our staff and all of the new people portend changes for our organization. It’s forced us to look for ways to get to know the parts of our organization and each other. For example, we have implemented an online staff photo directory (password-protected for privacy considerations) so we could learn to recognize new faces. Overall, we look on this transformation as a positive thing: having so many more people in our organization than we once did means a big increase in our collective brain power.
One of the challenges facing our organization is learning how to operate with two large libraries at some distance across campus from one another. In his remarks at the ECL Grand Opening Ceremony last September, President Rose compared the new library to a new birth in a family, and wondered about a “sibling rivalry.” I don’t think we have to worry about that, but we do have to determine and refine the particular roles each library will fill in serving the needs of JMU users. I’m sure our collective brain power will serve us well as we face new challenges in our organization and uncertain times in the coming year.