University Publications - UBC Library Staff Meeting Minutes

[UBC Library Staff Meeting Minutes] Sep 19, 1951

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TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 1951 at 10 a.m.
Present: Mr. Harlow, Miss Jefferd, Miss Smith, Miss Lanning, Miss Mercer,
Mr. Lanning, Miss Fugler.
Mr. Harlow commented that he had received some very fine annual reports
from the Division Heads and hopes for good results developing from them.
He noted that nearly every report mentioned government publications, and he
would like to have as part of the first monthly report (due the first week
of October) a summary of the situation regarding government publications as
it affects the several divisions, with proposals for solving the problems
Monthly reports are to include statistics, but Mr. Harlow said he was not
sure exactly what statistics should be given, and for the first month he wishes
the Division Heads to report whatever they believe will be actually useful.
He would like figures which can be compared from month to month and especially
from year to year; this sort of record will help to justify and support
requests made in the budget estimates, and record Library development. In
this connection Miss Lanning asked for circulation statistics from the Reference
Division for the reading rooms under Reference supervision. After brief consideration it was agreed that each Division should compile and report its own
circulation statistics. Miss Snith.pointed out that circulation was not a
real guide to the amount of work done by the Reference Division. It was agreed
that all statistics can be misleading to some degree, but that, in general,
continuing statistics with detailed sampling at regular intervals can provide
a reasonably representative picture.
In the first monthly report the Librarian would also like to have a consideration of what each Division Head would do with additional staff if it
became available—what classification of employee would be most desirable and
how, specifically, the personnel would be used in the Division. Also to be
considered is ths possible use of student assistants as well as of permanent
personnel, the number of hours of student assistant help desired, and the work
the students would do.
The Librarian remarked that all the divisional reports showed a too rapid
turnover of personnel. He wonders why this situation exists and whether there
are contributing causes that can be isolated and dealt with. Has the Library
possibly overstressed its function as a training ground for prospective
professional librarians? Mr, Lanning said that he and Miss Fraser both felt
that while it was fine to help students planning to go to library school, it was
very hard on organization of the Library to have such a continual turnover
in staff. Miss Smith pointed out that there used to be many sessional appointments which ran from September to May, and this meant a large turnover. If the
Library could have a sufficiently large permanent staff, one factor of fluctuation
would be eliminated. So far the Library budget has not permitted an adequate
year-round staff. In addition, during the war and immediate post-war years every
effort was made to assist veterans by giving their wives employment in sessional
jobs in the Library and, in cases where the men. were to be on the campus for
several years, clerical positions on the permanent staff. 2.
Miss Mercer explained that a policy had been adopted which did not allow
persons in the Library Assistant category to remain for more than two years in
the Library. It was felt that well qualified library assistants should be encouraged to continue their professional training and not be permitted to settle
down in a job which held very limited promise for the future. Many library
assistants would not likely be satisfied to remain in a typical Library Assistant
position for more than a year or two. On the other hand, there was general
agreement that in certain positions in the Library, continuity is important.
It was remarked that persons in clerical positions are often satisfied to
continue in the same position for several years, with regular salary increases.
Mr. Harlow said that in some other libraries there are two non-professional grades
above the clerical level, overlapping the first professional class, with several
salary steps in each, and that a number of good people work into a career in
these positions. Miss Smith said that the Library had been employing people
in the Library Assistant category who were planning to go to library school, and
that by choosing those instead who wished to continue in such a position we might
achieve more continuity. Mr. Harlow wishes to investigate the feasibility of
trying to set up another classification, perhaps starting lower than the present
Library Assistant and going to the top of the present Junior librarian scale,
and then planning to hire some persons in this category who will think of it as
continued employment.
Mr. Harlow said there might be some difficulty in revamping the professional
staff set-up because of the fixed union agreement, which operates to best advantage for the clerical group. Miss Smith said that Dr. Lamb had always tried
to tie in the University Library with the Vancouver Public Library, rather than
with the Provincial Library, where salaries were low; but the University has
recently been under pressure from Victoria to use the Provincial Library as a
measuring stick. The Provincial Library classification does not match ours and
it is difficult to make a proper comparison between the two. Mr. Harlow thinks
the Library should try to have adjustments made next March.
Miss Mercer remarked that some reconsideration of positions at the Loan
Desk would be necessary if they are to be filled with permanent positions, with
promotions from time to time. Mr. Harlow pointed out that there are several
possible salary steps provided in the Junior Clerk grade. Miss Jefferd noted that
some jobs are more mono^us than others, e.g., typing catalogue cards. It was
asked whether typists might not file during part of the time and relieve the
monotony of the task, and have those who file most of the time do soipe typing;
but it was pointed out that the jobs were in different categories and that the
Library might not be able to afford to have any but typists do the typing work.
If some of the routine jobs could be made more attractive, Mr. Harlow wondered
whether the Library might not be able to get persons in those positions who
would stay indefinitely. Some turnover is to be expected, but the Librarian would
certainly like to reduce it if possible. Miss Smith felt that a different type
of person in the Library Assistant positions would improve the situation markedly.
The Librarian suggested that consideration be given in the monthly report to the
problems discussed.
The circulation of bound periodicals from the Loan Desk was given some
attention. Miss Lanning asked for specific instructions, indicating whot.could
and who could not^borrow such material. She has found that simply, saying "faculty",
as defined by the Library Committee, does not clear up the problem. Miss Mercer
asked if a line could be drawn to include those who actually use the material for
teaching purposes; but this again involves the difficulty of identifying these
people. Miss Lanning said that she has to try to cultivate good will towards the
Library at the Loan Desk, and she would like a definite rule about such matters. IV
She also asked whether she should require written authorization from a Department
Head before lending bound periodicals to an individual in his name. Mr. Harlow
said that such authorization should be given, either to the person concerned in a
form he could produce at the Loan Desk, or by letter to the Librarian. Mr. Lanning
suggested drawing up categories and, on first request, accede to demand, but
request authorization on future occasions. Mr. Harlow believed a statement should
be required the first time a request is made, otherwise it will be difficult to
administer the regulation. Miss Mercer remarked that it was important that
Circulation and Serials should follow the same procedure all the time. Mr. Harlow
asked if there were many bound periodicals overdue from faculty, and the reply
was that there were not many, but that some difficulties always exist. Miss
Lanning asked about Ph.D. students: they are not authorized to borrow bound
periodicals, but they are doing important work. Mr. Harlow said they should be
treated as students until and unless the Library Committee makes a definite rule.
He believes the categories should be defined and referred to in case of applications
to borrow this kind of material, and he will prepare such a code and have it
approved by the Library Committee if necessary.
Mr. Harlow hoped that the Library Committee will agree to submit to the
President a -proposed resolution providing that all purchases of library material on
the campus be made through the Acquisitions Division of the Library. The Committee
proposed such an arrangement at its last meeting, including a provision for
cataloguing all material in the Library. He suggests removing the clause pertaining to full cataloguing for t he time being, compromising on making entries in
the authority file, with an order record in the Acquisitions Division. The records
will provide useful information on campus holdings and discourage duplication.
It will be necessary to handle departmental orders with despatch. The new procedure
will not apply to gifts.
Charging of material to departmental reading rooms was considered, and the
Librarian said that in general he did not want Library material to be transferred
from the Library to a departmental collection on a permanent basis; the record of
such charges should be kept at the Loan Desk, not in the shelf list in the
Catalogue Division. Mr. Lanning said that departments are being encouraged to
spend their own money on binding at a time when the Library is trying to discourage
independent departmental libraries. This is a contradiction which Mr. Harlow
believes Is a temporary condition.
The Librarian asked that all requests for supplies other than items kept
regularly in stock come from the Division Head concerned, in order to avoid confusion and duplication. He also asked that the poor quality of yellow paper not
be used for any kind of permanent record—its life is very short.
He also cautioned the Division Heads against allowing any bills to be paid
in cash, since they must first be cleared through the normal University channels.
If difficulties arise, the delivery man should be referred to the Librarian's
Miss Lanning mentioned the problem of providing student assistants with work
to be done during periods of lull at the desks. They have used the time for their
own study, but it is felt that they ought to be working for the Library while they
are on duty. The Librarian approved the policy of providing Library work and said
that the professional person on duty should be responsible for supervising such work.
Mr. Harlow noted that the fire door on the front of the building in the wing
had been open quite early in the morning, and he asked that all doors except
the receiving door be left locked until the main door is open. 4.
Copies of minutes of Division Heads meetings will be circulated by the
Division Heads to all members of their staffs. A copy will also be routed through
the bindery and Extension Library and another will be posted on the staff notice
board. General approval of this plan was expressed.
Miss Jefferd asked if other members of the staff were to be invited to the
Division Heads meetings from time to time, and the librarian said he did plan to
do so, He would like to have a good number of persons attend in the course of the
The manner of accepting gifts in the Library was considered. Whenever Division
Heads are available, Mr. Harlow would like to have them accept personal offers of
gifts whenever possible, and when someone comes to the Library and presents material,
the person on duty should ask the Division Head to accept the gift, if it does not
inconvenience the donor by waiting. Due appreciation should be expressed and the
name and address of the giver must be secured and transmitted with the gift to
Acquisitions. Offers of gifts made by telephone should be referred to Miss Mercer
or to the Librarian. Mr. Lanning suggested that gifts of periodicals should be
referred to him and of medical material to Miss Fraser. This was agreed upon,
but the donor should be conducted to the proper person and not be shunted about
from one place to another. Miss Smith mentioned that Professor Buck was giving to
the Library a good deal of the useful material now in his office.
The problem of circulating North West books has arisen again. The only
restriction regarding these books is that they must be read in the Library. Miss
Smith felt that to have them read in the Howay-Reid room contravened the intention
of the Howay-Reid bequest, but that they ought to be read in the building. After
consideration of a number of difficulties, Mr. Harlow asked Miss Smith if she
would find space behind the Reference Desk for a table where students could be
under supervision while reading North West books; if the books were rare they should
certainly be used under supervision. Miss Smith agreed that since the Howay-Reid
room was the responsibility of the Reference Division, the Reference staff should
deal with the North West books; she would try to make the arrangement suggested
though she found the matter of providing desk space a difficulty. Miss Mercer
pointed out that material kept in the Cage might be considered rare and perhaps
ought to be read under supervision. Mr. Harlow agreed, saying that the first copy
of a thesis should be used under supervision and that certainly an only copy of
a thesis should be so treated; it is a unique item which the library is responsible
for preserving. He recommended sending any material of this kind to the Reference
Desk, where it could be used under shpervision of the Reference staff. Miss Smith
said she would try the plan until Christmas if she could find space for readers.
The meeting adjourned at 12;20 noon.


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