HCL Committees Take on New Life
April 15, 2008 – The HCL committee structure is being revamped in order to provide opportunities for broader staff participation and leadership development, and to increase coordination and collaboration of program planning across HCL.
"Our goal is to hear more voices," said Associate Librarian Marilyn Wood, who has spearheaded the reorganization process. "The new committee structure has been designed to be more transparent and to encourage interaction among the various committees and among committee members and other interested staff in order to create the best possible outcomes."
The reorganization of the HCL committee structure was a collaborative effort of the HCL Administration and Senior Management Council with input from the various HCL committees. The process involved an analysis of existing committees, their charges, their reporting structure, and their membership in relation to the programmatic needs of the Library. An implementation plan was adopted at the Senior Management Council meeting in February.
Like the recently adopted University Library Council (ULC) plan, the HCL plan calls for the creation of coordinating committees, standing committees, working groups, and affinity groups. Coordinating committees will be formed first. Then, as the committees start meeting over the new few months, planning for related standing committees, working groups, and affinity groups will begin.
Coordinating committees represent broad programmatic areas and are responsible for strategic planning and high level policy recommendation. Reporting to the Senior Management Council, they are composed primarily of senior level staff and are chaired by a member of the Senior Management Council.
The new HCL Coordinating Committees include: Circulation, Privileges, and Interlibrary Loan (CPILL); Collections and Content; Collection Management; Metadata and Reporting; Research and Instruction; and Virtual Presence. The work of the former Collection Management Council, Research and Access Services Council, and HCL Web Steering Group has been absorbed by one or more of the new groups. Three additional committees, HCL Joint Council, Ergonomics Committee, and the Local Emergency Management Team (LEMT) will continue to report to the Office of the Librarian.
Each coordinating committee will appoint and oversee a subset of related groups (standing, work, affinity) within its purview. Standing committees are permanent committees that do high level work focusing on a particular issue of import to the Library. Working groups are comparable to task forces in that they focus on a very specific topic and can have a finite lifespan. Both standing committees and working groups are appointed by and report to a coordinating committee. Affinity groups sponsor informal gatherings for individuals who have common library-related interests with a focus on library-wide communication and professional development. Membership is open to the community and the group facilitators are appointed by the affiliated coordinating or standing committee.
Membership for all committees and groups will come from across HCL, rotating annually or biannually to allow broader participation among staff and to ensure continuity of work. Over time the rotating membership will provide an opportunity for all units to have membership on all committees. At a given time, however, there will not be someone from each unit on every committee because it would be cumbersome. According to Wood, to ensure that all units' interests are represented, committee members are charged with serving as members of the HCL community and not just as delegates of their home library.
"Communication will be key to the success of this new committee structure," said Wood, "To make this work, we are counting on committee members to gather and share information not only with their units, but also with colleagues across the Library. We are counting on committee chairs to keep the lines of communication open among members, other committees, the Senior Management Council, and our colleagues in other Harvard libraries."
To further promote communication and collaboration, an HCL Committees web site has been created on the iSites platform. For starters, each committee has a section, accessible to all members of the Harvard community, that will feature its charge, a membership roster with contact information, and meeting minutes. Committees will be able to set up members-only pages to develop work in progress or to share documents with other committees, and may employ other iSite tools to facilitate their work.
Staff interested in participating in standing committees, work groups, or affinity groups are encouraged to check the HCL Committees site periodically and watch the HCL News for calls for membership.