Rod Library--Special Collections

UNI Library Administrative Organization

Introduction

The purpose of this essay is to describe library administrative organization over the 128 year history of library service at the University of Northern Iowa. This essay attempts to be descriptive rather than evaluative. It notes some of the many talented members of the Library staff who have held leadership positions in the Library. However, this essay avoids the complexities of assessing the value of particular leaders, their personalities, and their contributions. That is work for another day.

For most of its history, the UNI Library's administrative organization was simple. The library and its staff functioned much like the faculty of an instructional department with a single administrator as its head. This arrangement worked well when the staff was small and library procedures were relatively limited, traditional, and well-defined. However, as the enrollment and curriculum of the school expanded, especially in the 1960s, and as library tasks became more complicated and specialized, the administrative structure grew. The greatest expansion and development of library administrative organization occurred in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This expanded structure lasted into the 1990s when economic difficulties, library automation, and a trend toward more streamlined organizations led to contraction and realignment.

Librarians, both those with administrative appointments and those with non-administrative appointments, have apparently always been considered members of the faculty, though faculty rank for librarians other than the head of the Library did not appear in the university catalogue until 1975. Librarians have served in the University Faculty Senate since at least the early 1950s; a Senate seat has been apportioned to the Library faculty since 1983. The Library organized a Library Faculty Senate that met for the first time on October 21, 1998. Librarians with terminal degrees became eligible for voting membership on the Graduate Council in 1998.

Upper Level Administration

During the Library's earliest years, from 1876 until 1886, students ran the Library under the loose governance of the faculty. Then, after President Homer Seerley took office in 1886, the Library came under the more direct and consistent authority of the President.

In 1894 the school hired Anna Baker as the first person to hold a regular, continuing appointment on the library staff. Anna Baker's title, and that of her successors until 1929, was Librarian. From 1929 until 1965 the title of the head of the Library was Head Librarian. In 1965 the title changed to Director of Library Services. And, by action of the Board of Regents on September 23, 1998, the title became Dean of Library Services. (For a quick look at those who have served as heads of the Library, see this related page.)

Until the early 1960s, the library functioned like an academic department with the Head Librarian as its administrator. The Library had long since differentiated itself into a number of functional areas or quasi-departments such as Cataloguing, Reference, and Circulation. In functional areas in which there was more than one librarian, positions were distinguished from one another by titles such as Reference Librarian and Assistant Reference Librarian, or Head Cataloguer and Cataloguer. But leaders of these functional areas did not have true administrative status until the middle and late 1960s. The development of these areas into departments will be considered in more detail below in the section on Middle Level Management..

The first indication of significant changes in the Library's upper level administrative structure occurred in 1961 when Serials Librarian H. Wendell Alford was named Coordinator of Technical Services, and Circulation Librarian Everett L. Howell was named Coordinator of Public Services. This was a traditional division of library services, with Cataloguing and Acquisitions considered technical services and Reference and Circulation considered public services. In his new position, Wendell Alford served as head of the Acquisitions Department and began to have some authority over the entire technical services area. This more general authority initially extended to the earliest Library efforts in automation. Everett Howell, in his new position, was head of the Circulation Department and began to have authority over the management of the Reference (later Reader Service) Department as well.

In 1965 Donald Rod's title changed from Head Librarian to Director of Library Services. In 1966 Everett Howell became Assistant Director of Library Services, but, after he resigned in April 1967, library administration was aligned under two Assistant Directors of Library Services: Donald W. Gray was hired in 1967 to head the public services side, and Wendell Alford became head of the technical services side. The full titles for these positions, according to the UNI catalogue, were:

  • Assistant Director of Library Services (Public Services)
  • Assistant Director of Library Services (Technical Services).

Note on usage: In common practice and everyday discussion, the Assistant Director titles were usually shortened to Assistant Director of Public Services and Assistant Director of Technical Services. Over the years, the word "for" was often substituted for "of" in those titles until their usage became practically interchangeable. Former Dean of Library Services Herbert Safford preferred to use "for" in those titles because it sounded better and made more sense to him. For purposes of consistency, this essay will use "of" because it seems to be closer to the original intent of the title.

So, by 1967, the Director of Library Services had two Assistant Directors who reported to him: one for Technical Services and one for Public Services. Department heads reported to their respective Assistant Director: Cataloguing and Acquisitions to Technical Services and Reader Service and Circulation to Public Services. By 1968, the Director of Library Services reported to the Vice President for Academic Affairs (now the Vice President and Provost) instead of the President. This kept the Library aligned in the University's instructional division rather than in the student service or administrative division. With certain modifications in terminology and some shuffling of departments, this basic arrangement survived for almost thirty years. Wendell Alford remained in his position until he retired on August 31, 1986. Head of Acquisitions Jessica Marshall then served as Acting Assistant Director of Technical Services until Patricia Larsen took the position on August 15, 1987. That title changed on May 1, 1990, coincident with the title change for the other Assistant Director, to Assistant Director of Access Services. Robert Rose served as Acting Assistant Director of Access Services for much of the 1992-1993 school year while Patricia Larsen was on a Fulbright Scholar appointment in Romania. Patricia Larsen remained Assistant Director of Access Services until she resigned on October 28, 1998. After her resignation, the position of Assistant Director of Access Services was discontinued, with many of its responsibilities folded into the unified, single Assistant Director of Library Services position.

Donald W. Gray remained in the position of Assistant Director of Public Services until he retired on April 30, 1990. After Donald Gray retired, the title of the position was changed to Assistant Director of Informational and Instructional Services. Director of Library Services Herbert Safford served in this position in an acting capacity until Robert F. Rose began on August 1, 1990. With the elimination of the position of Assistant Director for Access Services, the title of the single remaining Assistant Director was changed to Associate Director of Library Services on January 20, 1995. All departments, with the exception of Library Systems and Technology, reported to the Associate Director. Robert Rose served in that capacity until he resigned effective July 16, 1998, and was succeeded by Cataloging Head Marilyn Mercado as Acting Associate Director of Library Services. When the title of Director of Library Services changed to Dean of Library Services on September 23, 1998, Marilyn Mercado's title became Acting Associate Dean of Library Services, though she remained Head of Cataloguing, too. On April 15, 1998, Marilyn Mercado became Associate Dean of Library Services. She held that title until July 1, 2000, when she became Interim Dean of Library Services. Due to state financial difficulties, the budget line for the Associate Dean of Library Services has since been eliminated. All Library departments now report directly to the Dean of Library Services.

Library administrators have met regularly, usually weekly, since at least 1964 to deal with matters affecting the Library. Initially the group was known as the Department Heads, but since September 1969, the group has been known as the Library Administrators' Council, to reflect more accurately its composition. Reader Service Head Lawrence Kieffer suggested the name. From 1985 until 1989, the heads of the Special Services divisions attended a portion of the Library Administrators' Council meeting, once a month, to share views and information.

Administrative sidelight: When the college organized the Department of Library Science in 1947, the Head Librarian was the head of that department. Consequently, as heads of the library, Marybelle McClelland and Donald Rod were also heads of the Department of Library Science. That situation endured until 1968 when a member of the library science instructional faculty, Clyde Greve, was named head of the Department of Library Science.

Middle Level Administration

As noted above, for most of its history, the Library functioned in the school's administrative structure much like an instructional department, with the Librarian or Head Librarian as its sole administrative staff member. When the institution became a university in 1967, and began to organize instructional departments into colleges, the Library came to be seen, for administrative purposes, as analogous to a college. The Director of Library Services began to report to the academic vice president (now Vice President and Provost) rather than the President. Yet the legacy of this unusual administrative structure--something like a department and something like a college--endures to this day. Library department heads were included in the University Administrative Council by 1968. Additionally, they were defined officially as administrators when faculty collective bargaining unit lines were drawn in 1976, still occasionally have difficulty in being recognized as analogous to their UNI colleagues who head instructional departments.

Cataloguing

The Library began to organize into functional areas shortly after Anna Baker arrived as Librarian in 1894. The foundation for what is now known as the Youth Collection began in 1897. There will be more about that collection below in the section on Lower Level Administration. Among the major departments, however, the arrival of Clara Drenning in 1900, as the first regular staff cataloguer, signaled the beginning of the functional area of cataloguing.

Until 1967, the Cataloguing Department reported to the head of the Library. From 1967 until 1994 it reported to the Assistant Director of Technical (later Access) Services. From 1994 until 2000, it reported to the Assistant (later Associate) Director (Dean). From 2000 until 2004 it reported to the Dean of Library Services. In 2004, the Cataloguing Department and the Acquisitions Department merged to become the Technical Services Department with one administrative head, Cynthia Coulter.

Those with leadership responsibilities in this area include:

  • Clara Drenning (1900-1906);
  • Mattie Fargo (1906-1914);
  • Ruth Woolman (1913-1915);
  • Rowena Edwards (1917-1947);
  • Margaret Fullerton (1947-1955);
  • Gertrude Voelker (1958-1960);
  • Fred Ma (1960-1988);
  • Marilyn Mercado (1989-2000);
  • Colleen Valente (2000-2003)
  • Cynthia Coulter (2003-2004).

Fred Ma was the first cataloguer to have clear administrative responsibilities as head of the Cataloguing Department.

Circulation

The Library has always had a desk at which a person could check out books. But it was not until 1909 that the function seemed to emerge as a specialty when Assistant Librarian Ethel Arey was named Loan Desk Attendant. The title fluctuated between Loan Desk and Circulation until 1919 when Circulation seemed to stick. This area of the Library retained the name Circulation until July 1996 when, at the suggestion of Circulation Head Sarah Mort, it was changed to Access Services. This department administers the photocopy services, reserve services, microform services, and periodical services located at the MultiService Center.

The department reported to the head of the library until 1967. Then it reported to the Assistant Director of Public Services until Donald Gray retired in 1990. Following Donald Gray's retirement, the department reported to the Assistant Director of Technical (later Access) Services until 1994, when it began to report to the single Assistant (later Associate) Director(later Dean) of Library Services. Since that position has been eliminated, the department has reported to the Dean of Library Services.

After the resignation of Kent Snowden in October 2005, the position of head of Access Services changed from a faculty appointment to a Professional and Scientific appointment.

Those who have served as leaders in this area include:

  • Ethel Arey (1909-1914);
  • Rachel Ogle (1917-1919);
  • Elizabeth Boyd Harding (1919-1922);
  • Jessie Ferguson (1923-1930);
  • Marybelle McClelland (1930-1939);
  • Evelyn Mullins (1939-1948);
  • Janet Harrison (1948-1949);
  • Mary Louise Cooper (1950-1952);
  • Richard Johnson (1953-1956);
  • Keith Knight (1956-1958);
  • Everett Howell (1958-1967);
  • Douglas Hieber (1967-1992);
  • Sarah Mort Cron (1993-1998);
  • Kent Snowden (1999-2005)
  • Linda McLaury (2006-present).

Everett Howell was probably the first to possess true administrative authority in this department.

Reference

Staff who worked at public desks have always fielded questions on the Library and its services. The first staff member to be called Reference Librarian was Ethel Shields, who served in this capacity from 1916 through 1919. The functional term Reference survived until 1964 when it was changed to the Reader Service Department. That name lasted until 1994 when it changed to Reference and then, in 1996, it was modified to Reference and Instructional Services Department.

The Reference Department reported directly to the head of the Library until 1967, when it began to report to the Assistant Director of Public Services. In 1994 it began to report to the single Assistant (later Associate) Director (later Dean) of Library Services. Since the elimination of that position, the department reports to the Dean of Library Services.

Those who have served as leaders in Reference include:

  • Ethel Shields (1916-1919);
  • Rachel Ogle (1919-1920);
  • Harriett Kidder (1920-1925);
  • Wintress Brennan (1925-1930);
  • Jessie Ferguson (1930-1940);
  • Marybelle McClelland (1939-1943);
  • Mary Dieterich (1946-1964) and Edward Wagner (1958-1964);
  • David Pownall (1964-1967);
  • Lawrence Kieffer (1969-1996);
  • Jerilyn Marshall (1998-present).

David Pownall was probably the first to have true administrative authority in this department.

Acquisitions

The acquisition of library materials and the care of periodicals developed into a functional area with guidance from a librarian in the 1920s. Irene Ehresman was named Extension and Periodical Librarian in 1926 and led the Library's binding and serials work until 1954. Grace Neff served as Order Librarian from 1944 until 1948. She was followed by Evelyn Mullins, who served as Order Librarian until 1970. But H. Wendell Alford was the first true administrator in the Acquisitions area. He arrived in the Library in 1959 as Serials Librarian. In 1961 he was named Coordinator of Technical Services, a position that included administrative management of the Acquisitions Department, and then became Assistant Director of Technical Services in 1967. In 2004 the Cataloguing Department and the Acquisitions Department merged into the new Technical Services Department, with Cynthia Coulter as its head.

Until 1967 this department reported to the head of the Library. From 1967 until 1994 it reported to the Assistant Director of Technical (later Access) Services. It then reported to the single Assistant (later Associate) Director (later Dean) of Library Services. Following the elimination of that position, it has reported to the Dean of Library Services.

Those who have led some of the functional areas now considered to be parts of the Acquisitions Department include:

  • Irene Ehresman (1926-1954);
  • Grace Neff (1944-1948);
  • Evelyn Mullins (1948-1970);
  • H. Wendell Alford (1961-1969);
  • Thomas M. Shaw (1969-1983);
  • Jessica Marshall (1983-1989);
  • Cynthia Coulter (1989-2004).

Technical Services

The Technical Services Department is a combination of the Acquisitions Department and the Cataloguing Department. On March 3, 2004, Acquisitions Head Cynthia Coulter also became acting head of the Cataloguing Department. That appointment became permanent on November 24, 2003. The two departments held their first joint meeting on March 10, 2004. The departments merged and the new name, Technical Services, became effective May 12, 2004. Cynthia Coulter remains head of this new, combined department.

Collection Management

During her two years of service, Director of Library Services Barbara Jones began two significant initiatives, First, she started the process of selecting an integrated library automation system. And, second, she began the organization of a new collection management area. Collection Management is an amalgam of previously existing library functions but with a more concentrated interest in using the Library budget wisely and developing the Library collection to meet the changing needs of the curriculum. On August 1, 1987, Order and Bibliographic Control Librarian Katherine Martin was named Coordinator of Collection Management and Bibliographer. She became head of the newly-organized Collection Management Department in July 1991 and continues to serve at this time. One of the purposes of the Collection Management initiative was to spread responsibility for library material selection among a much larger group of librarians. Most non-administrative librarians now serve as bibliographers, who assist in material selection, in addition to their other responsibilities. These librarians report to the Head of Collection Management and Special Services for their work as bibliographers.

The Collection Management functional area initially reported to the Assistant Director of Access Services. On August 1, 1990, it began to report to the Assistant Director of Informational and Instructional Services. This reporting structure continued when the functional area became a department in July 1991 and endured until 1994 when it began to report to the single Assistant (later Associate) Director (later Dean) of Library Services. When that position was eliminated, the department began to report to the Dean of Library Services.

In January 1995 the department name changed to Collection Management and Special Services to reflect the added administration of the Special Services Department. The Special Services Department and its component divisions are considered below.

Special Services

The Special Services Department has been a loose confederation of collections in the Library since at least 1967. These collections include:

  • the Youth Collection;
  • the Documents and Maps Collection;
  • Art and Music;
  • and Special Collections and University Archives.

Descriptions of these collections appear in the discussion of Lower Administrative Level below. Responsibilities for the last three of these collections grew out of part-time assignments for members of the Reader Service Department. But as these responsibilities expanded, and as the collections came to be housed in separate locations, these areas of specialized service were organized as divisions--not departments--each under the authority of a non-administrative librarian. These divisions reported to the Assistant Director of Public (later Informational and Instructional) Services, who served as the Acting Head of the Department of Special Services. The "acting" designation lasted from 1967 until January 1995, when the Head of Collection Management, Katherine Martin, assumed administrative authority of the four divisions. In 1996, one of the divisions, the Documents and Maps Collection, was dissolved. The head of that area of responsibility would henceforth be a member of the Reference and Instructional Services Department.

Technology

H. Wendell Alford, Coordinator (later Assistant Director) of Technical Services, guided the Library's earliest automation efforts in the 1960s. From 1969 through 1974, Charles Sage, in a joint appointment with the libraries at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University, held the title of Coordinator of Automated Library Services. The main product of these early efforts was a list of serials holdings. For many years thereafter, automation efforts were spread around the departments among people with special interests and talents in that area, notably, Lawrence Kieffer and Stanley Lyle of the Reader Service Department, Patrick Wilkinson of the Documents and Maps division, and Jessica Marshall of the Acquisitions Department.

After her arrival in 1986, Director of Library Services Barbara Jones began to organize efforts for a more unified approach to automation. Though she directed the Library for only two years, Barbara Jones appointed Patricia Larsen as Assistant Director of Technical Services to lead the automation effort. In 1995 the Library created the Library Systems and Technologies Department and hired David Corbly as its head. David Corbly resigned in June 1998. John Wynstra served as acting head until January 1999 when Jerry Caswell became head. Jerry Caswell heads this department at the present time. In February 1999 the name of the department was changed to Library Information Technologies. Since its inception, this department has reported directly to the Director (now Dean) of Library Services.

Lower Level Administration

Youth

In 1897, just three years after the school hired its first regular staff librarian, a children's book collection was set aside. This was the foundation of today's Youth Collection. This unit was known as the Children's Collection (1897-1925), the Juvenile Collection (1925-1957), and the Youth Collection (1957-present).

The collection initially served two purposes: first, it served as a model collection for college students training to become teachers; and, second, it served as a working library for children in the Campus Laboratory School. The collection was able to focus solely on the former purpose after the Laboratory School, equipped with its own library, moved to its new off-campus quarters in several stages in the middle 1950s.

The librarian in charge of the Youth Collection reported to the head of the Library until 1967 when she began to report to the Assistant Director of Public (later Informational and Instructional) Services, in his capacity as Acting Head of the Department of Special Services. Since January 1995 the librarian has reported to the Head of the Department of Collection Management and Special Services.

Those charged with responsibilities for this collection include:

  • Edith Morse (1924-1925);
  • Louise Hamilton (1925-1928);
  • Mary Elizabeth Lewis (1928-1930);
  • Elsie Duncan (1930-1935);
  • Helen Newmeyer (1935-1936);
  • Jean McBurney (1936-1937);
  • Clara Campbell (1937-1952);
  • Mary Kay Eakin (1958-1968);
  • Arlene Ruthenberg (1968-1969; 1971-1980);
  • Ada McLeod (1969-1970);
  • Lucille Lettow (1980-present).

The head of the Youth Collection is a non-administrative librarian.

Government Documents and Maps

A collection of government documents and maps has existed in the Library since as early as 1930. The Library became a federal government documents depository in 1946. For many years large numbers of documents were catalogued, classified, and integrated into the general book collection.

The Documents Collection was established formally as a part of the Reader Service Department in September 1966. Until 1971, the librarian in charge of this collection was a Rreference Librarian who reported to the Head of the Reader Service Department. From 1971 until January 1995 the librarian reported to the Head of Public (later Informational and Instructional) Services in his capacity as Acting Head of the Department of Special Services. From January 1995 until May 1996, when the division was dissolved, the librarian reported to the Head of Collection Management and Special Services. Since that time librarians in charge of documents and maps have been members of the Reference and Instructional Services Department.

Those with leadership responsibilities for documents and maps include:

  • Edward Wagner (1968-1971);
  • Sandra K. Peterson (1971-1974);
  • Charles A. Seavey (1975-1980);
  • Patrick J. Wilkinson (1980-1993);
  • Bart A. Austof (1994-1996);
  • Beth E. Clausen (1997-2001);
  • Rebecca A. Lutkenhaus (2001-2005);
  • Gretchen Gould (2006-present).

Art and Music

The Library has maintained a strong collection and interest in the fine arts for just about its entire history. Indeed, library facilities, located in several buildings over the years, effectively functioned as the campus art gallery until the construction of the Gallery of Art in the Kamerick Art Building. The first librarian to take formal and titular responsibility for the fine arts was Solveiga Aizinas. Leaders in this area include:

  • Solveiga Aizinas (1962-1965);
  • Verna Ford Ritchie (1966-1990);
  • Alberto Hernandez (1991-1994);
  • Lynn Gullickson (1995-1998);
  • Gail Culler (1999-2001);
  • Alan Asher (2002-present).

Until the second phase of the Rod Library opened in January 1975, the fine arts librarians were reference librarians in the Reader Service Department. Since that time the fine arts librarians have been heads of the division of Art and Music and located in their own quarters. The Art and Music division reported to the Assistant Director of Public (later Informational and Instructional) Services, in his capacity as Acting Head of the Special Services Department from 1975 until January 1995, when the division came under the administrative authority of the Department of Collection Management and Special Services. The head of Art and Music is a non-administrative librarian.

Note on usage: In accord with a Library Administrators' Council decision in July 1974, the name of this division is simply Art and Music, rather than the Art and Music Collection.

Special Collections and University Archives

As in most libraries, a small rare book collection developed gradually in the UNI Library. When the Library moved into the building now known as the Rod Library in 1964, the rare book collection was placed in the Conference Room adjacent to the administrative suite. The Circulation Department fetched books from the collection when they were requested. The library administration considered a rare books policy in 1969, but put off a decision until 1971 when it had become clearer that responsibilities for rare books would be combined with responsibilities for archives under the authority of a new Special Collections librarian position.

The institutional archives and the position of archivist are first mentioned on December 17, 1936, when Extension Director Irving Harlow Hart was named College Archivist. Irving Hart was a serious amateur historian, who had published a history of Butler County as well as a number of articles on Minnesota history. When he retired from his extension position in 1948, he was able to devote more time to the Archives in a part-time emeritus faculty position. Fred D. Cram, another retired extension faculty member, joined Irving Hart as Associate Archivist in 1954. Also in 1954, the administration of the Archives moved from the President of the College to the Head Librarian. In 1958, Irving Hart died, and Fred Cram retired completely. Albert E. Brown, a retired education faculty member, was named Archivist in 1959 and served until 1966. In 1964 Reference Librarian Mary Dieterich was named Archives Librarian. She served in that position until she retired in 1970. At that time Reference Librarian Ed Wagner took over duties in the Archives, where he served until 1974. Both Mary Dieterich and Ed Wagner were allowed to devote about a quarter of their time to archival duties. Until 1974, those involved in Archives work reported directly to the Head Librarian or Director of Library Services for the Archives portion of their assignment.

In 1974, responsibilities for rare books and archives were combined in the new position of Special Collections Librarian and Archivist. Gerald Peterson was hired in August 1974 to fill that position, which allowed him to spend half time in Special Collections and half time as a reference librarian in the Reader Service Department. Over the years the amount of time devoted to Special Collections grew until it is now a full time position, with no general Reference Desk responsibilities since September 2002. In March 1992 the title of the position was changed to Special Collections Librarian and University Archivist to make clearer the university-wide responsibility of the archives service.

The Division of Special Collections and University Archives was under the administration of the Assistant Director of Public (later Informational and Instructional) Services, in his capacity as Acting Head of the Department of Special Services, from 1974 until January 1995, when it began reporting to the Head of the Department of Collection Management and Special Services. The Special Collections Librarian and University Archivist is a non-administrative librarian. A roster of those who have led work in Special Collections and University Archives includes:

  • Irving H. Hart (1936-1958);
  • A. E. Brown (1958-1966);
  • Mary Dieterich (1964-1970);
  • Edward Wagner (1970-1974);
  • Gerald L. Peterson (1974-present).

Library Instruction

From its earliest days, the Library has taken a serious interest in teaching students and faculty about the effective use of library materials. The first librarian, Anna Baker, regularly instructed students and wrote articles for the student newspaper on reference and research tools. Over time, these duties seemed to find a home in the Reference (later Reader Service) Department. Reference Librarian James Shaw was assigned responsibilities for coordinating bibliographic instruction after he joined the staff in 1985. He continued until he resigned March 31, 1989. Reference Librarian Barbara Weeg then took over those duties. In January 1992, Barbara Weeg was named Coordinator of

Library

Instruction, to reflect a broader, library-wide view of the responsibilities of the position. This appointment did not become official until May 1992. She continued in that position until 1998 when she was succeeded by Reference Librarian Chris Neuhaus.

Interlibrary Loan

It is not clear exactly when the Library began to offer interlibrary loan service, but Mary Dieterich, who became a reference librarian in 1946, was the first person to be in charge of this work. This service remained under the administrative authority of the Reference (later Reader Service) Department until May 1, 1991, when it moved to the Circulation (later Access Services) Department. Reference Librarian Edward Wagner succeeded Mary Dieterich when she retired in 1970. Edward Wagner supervised interlibrary loan service, while continuing to serve as a reference librarian, until he retired in 1995.

Student Employment

Student employees have always been an important part of the library staff. Overall responsibilities for student personnel were located in the Circulation Department, as part of the assignment of Library Associate Timothy Pieper. In June 1991 the Library organized an office under the authority of what was initially called the Coordinator of Library Student Assistant Program. This was a half-time position. The title was quickly shortened to Coordinator of Student Employment. In September 1991 the Student Employment Advisory Committee was appointed to assist in the work of this office. Those who have served as coordinators include:

  • Karen Johnson (June-August 1991);
  • Barbara Kuhlman (August 1991-February 1992; May 2001-September 2001);
  • Esther Bishop Owczarek (February 1992-May 2001);
  • Cindy Bancroft (October 2001-present).

Summary

Library administrative structure developed over the years to meet specific needs. In the earliest days the staff was so small that there was little need for lines of authority other than designating a single person to supervise the overall effort and to report progress to the President. In those days library tasks were not as specialized as they are today. Functional area lines were not so strictly drawn. Distinctions between even the traditional public and technical services sides were not insurmountable. The idea seemed to be that any good library staff member could probably do a number of jobs in the library. A corollary might be that library staff members did not need a great deal of direct supervision.

Much of the development of the administrative structure came relatively late, as the school and its curriculum expanded in the 1960s, and the library staff grew in response. With the school moving beyond its exclusive focus on teacher education in 1961 and then attaining university status in 1967, there was much more ground to cover. Also, the work became more complex, and the Library began to offer a wider array of services. It no longer seemed practical for so many staff to report directly to the head of the library. Consequently, functional areas or quasi-departments became real departments with department heads. And an additional layer of administration, at the Assistant Director level, was established.

In 1995 the administrative structure was simplified to some extent by consolidating many of the duties of the two Assistant Directors into the single position of Associate Director. At that same time, the structure expanded laterally to recognize the importance of automated systems and collection management. In recent years, due at least partially to financial pressures, there has been a significant retraction of the administrative structure with the elimination of the Associate Dean position and the merging of the Cataloguing and Acquisitions Departments into a single Technical Services Department. The elimination of the level of administration between the Dean and the heads of Library departments means that all five department heads now report directly to the Dean of Library Services. This flatter administrative structure is in keeping with recent management trends.

Administrative structure is a way for institutions to organize their work to meet demands. This structure can reflect professional and societal trends, leaders' personalities, attitudes of staff members, and institutional resources. Over the years the Library's administrative structure has been influenced by all of these factors. It expanded when resources were plentiful and the societal and professional climate was right. However, the most dominant forces in recent years--demands for costly computer-assisted research tools and declining state financial support--have led to significant changes in the administrative structure. The Library has accommodated these forces, with some difficulty, by shifting resources to computer-accessible information and by reducing and re-assigning staff positions.

But these sorts of shifts and re-alignments may not be able to be sustained over the long run. Will a better economy rescue the Library from its dilemma? Will the Library and its staff continue to be able to make the case that they have value to the campus and society? Will a dominating, revolutionary technology or personality come onto the scene, and, for better or worse, radically change ideas about the role of libraries? The answers to these questions remain to be seen and experienced. But no matter what the outcome, strong leaders and a responsive, effective administrative structure will help to keep library services functioning at an optimal level.

Gerald L. Peterson
Special Collections Librarian and University Archivist
Rod Library
June-July 2004


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Rod Library Special Collections and University Archives
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613-3675
Telephone: (319)-273-6307
Fax: (319)-273-2913
Email: Gerald.Peterson@uni.edu