The Campus Chronicle
Vol. XVII, Issue 31
for the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts
May 3, 2002

 Page One Grain & Chaff Obituaries Letters to the Chronicle Archives Feedback Weekly Bulletin

 Page One Grain & Chaff Obituaries Letters to the Chronicle Archives Feedback Weekly Bulletin




Library 'SWAT teams' plan for 20% staffing loss

by Sarah R. Buchholz, Chronicle staff

Cesponding to an anticipated 20 percent reduction in the staff of the Libraries, director Margo Crist has organized small groups of employees to rethink organizational structures and functions in the Libraries. Dubbed SWAT teams, the groups of no more than six have been working during April with anywhere from two weeks to one month to complete their tasks.

     "SWAT Teams are particularly focused on the task that the Library has to reorganize itself by July 1," said Crist. "We really can't wait 'til fall." Crist calls the groups SWAT teams because they work in a quick, focused manner.

     Although Crist said some staff who've put in for early retirement could decide not to take it, she's fairly confident that the Libraries will lose about 15 people through retirement and have lost another 10 through unfilled vacancies.

     "We know people [who have signed up for early retirement] could pull back," she said. "We're taking action based on what we know now.

     "We'll have to make a number of changes for the people who remain. Some people will pick up more [tasks] and let other things go. Some slots emptied by retirement will have to be filled from among existing personnel, she said.

     "We're redesigning things, consolidating," Crist said. "We need to continue to do [the critical] functions with significantly smaller staff resources."

     Crist said the Libraries are relying on the teams, which are made up of a "mix of job families" and tend to have members in areas most affected by job changes, to conduct a critical analysis of the available options and make strategic recommendations. The initial group made its report April 10. The remaining five teams report today or next Friday.

     Crist said the first SWAT team was formed after the senior leadership in the Libraries decided not to try to fill the head position in the area of user support services.

     Without a leader, the area would need to be redefined and its tasks assigned to different staff. The Acquisitions SWAT team spent two weeks locating which functions should be moved to the Collection Management Cluster and which to a new cluster, Content Acquisitions and Access.

     "We have to sort out the functions before we know what people will be doing, she said. "They'd like to know what's going to be expected of them.

     "I think it's a good process. I'm a believer in being a little more deliberate about change. But we don't have that luxury. We'll make adjustments later.

     "None of us likes being forced toward that sort of thing, but we are trying to see the positive side of changes. [After the reports are in,] we'll move ahead with the kind of assignments we need to make."

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