Report of the Advisory Group on the Management Structure for an Integrated Library System - (1) to No 4380

<br /> Oxford University Gazette: Management Structure for Integrated Library System<br /> (supplement)

Oxford University Gazette

Report of the Advisory Group on the Management Structure for an Integrated
Library System

Supplement (1) to Gazette No. 4380

Monday, 13 November 1995

Contents of the supplement:

To Gazette
No. 4381 (16 November 1995 )

Gazette Home Page

[Prefatory note]

The report of Council's Working Party on Senior Library Posts, under the
chairmanship of the President of Corpus Christi, was published as
Supplement (1) to Gazette No. 4373 on 21 September (p. 37). As stated in the
prefatory note to that report, Council had agreed to the immediate setting up
of the expert advisory group (in accordance with recommendation (iii)) to
advise on the management structure which would be appropriate if the main
recommendations in the working party's report were to be approved.

Council has now received the report of the advisory group, under the
chairmanship of the Warden of Rhodes House, and this is published below.
Faculty boards are being asked to submit any further comments they may wish to
make, in the light of the advisory group's report, by the Friday of Eighth Week (1
December) at the latest, and any member of Congregation who wishes to comment
individually may do so by writing before that date to Mr L.C.C. Reynolds,
University Offices, Wellington Square (e-mail Council intends to give further
consideration to the matter at its last meeting this term, on 4 December, in
the light of the comments which have been made, and expects then to be in a
position to put down an appropriate general resolution for debate in
Congregation during Hilary Term.

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1 Council having adopted recommendation (iii) of its
Working Party on Senior Library Posts, Mr Vice-Chancellor appointed the
following as members of the advisory group:

Sir Anthony Kenny, Warden of Rhodes House (Chairman)

Dr P.A.W. Bulloch, Assessor, and Librarian of Balliol

Mr R.P. Carr, Librarian, University of Leeds, and current Chairman of the
Standing Committee of National and University Libraries (SCONUL)

Ms E.A. Chapman, Librarian, Institute of Economics and Statistics

Mr P.K. Fox, Librarian, University of Cambridge

Mr D.G. Vaisey, Bodley's Librarian

2 The group's brief was to advise on the management
structure of an integrated library system. We have understood that to mean
assessing the prima facie feasibility of running an integrated system of the
type and scale envisaged in the Thomas Committee's report and with the task of

(a) delivering services to readers in support of the University's
teaching and research;

(b) serving as a major national and international research
resource; and

(c) serving as a library of legal deposit.

Are there any insuperable difficulties which would nullify a decision by
the University to approve recommendations (i), (ii), and (vi) of the Thomas
Report, which Council in its initial consideration has identified as the main

3 Also our understanding has been that our assignment is without
prejudice to final decisions by Council and Congregation on whether to approve
the main proposals. We record, nevertheless, our agreement with the main
thrust of the report, notwithstanding that there are specific points where,
either collectively or individually, our views diverge from recommendations in
the report. Although not strictly part of our brief, we have nevertheless
included such observations as a contribution to consideration of the report.
Some of them, in any case, are implicated in our consideration of management

4 At our request, Mr Vice-Chancellor agreed that we
should have a sight of the comments on the Thomas Report submitted by faculty
boards and other bodies and individuals before these went to Council in order
to see whether any modifications were required to our own recommendations. We
have in fact anticipated a number of points and believe that where concerns
have been raised they are in many cases addressed in what follows. We
accordingly recommend to Council that our report should also be published
prior to discussion in Congregation.

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The model in Appendix A of the Thomas Report

5 In the report the organisation chart is explicitly
proffered as a basis for consideration and not as a blueprint on whose
plausibility the recommendations stand or fall. The details of the suggested
structure aside, the Thomas Committee is `clear as to the major objectives
which the structure would be expected to facilitate:

  • the allocation of resources within the system to meet users' needs most
  • the extension to the Bodleian of the capacity for responsiveness to Oxford
    users' needs that is to be found in the Taylorian and some faculty libraries;
  • the maintenance and development of, and provision of access to, Oxford's
    historic collections as an international research resource;
  • the provision of university-wide services such as library automation and
    electronic media, preservation, and staff development' (Thomas, para. 6.7).

With respect to the management structure needed to achieve these objectives,
the Thomas Committee suggests that serious consideration should be given to a
combination of functional and subject-based divisions, and, whatever the
details, sees it as important that there should not be too many staff
reporting directly to the Director of University Library Services (Thomas,
para. 6.8).

6 We agree that a structure combining university-wide
functional and subject-based divisions is the right one; and we also endorse
the view that the size of the senior management team composed of those
reporting to the Director of University Library Services and the `divisional
heads' should not be too large.

7 However, we think that the functions in the
functionally based divisions in what for convenience we shall call the `Thomas
model', and the subjects in the subject-based ones, need to be redistributed
and the number of divisions increased to accommodate more homogeneous
groupings. Conversely, we do not see the need for a separate Oriental
Division. (This is in any case queried in the Thomas Report.) Our alternative
model for the management structure is set out in the Appendix to this report
and is discussed below.

The post of deputy

8 Our other criticism of the model in the Thomas Report
is the absence of a separate post of deputy to the Director of University
Library Services, the assumption having been made that as the divisional heads
are responsible for the day-to-day operation of the library system there might
not be a full-time job for a separate post of deputy. We think that the
responsibilities of running one of the new divisions would not leave any time
for a divisional head to act as deputy on either a permanent or a rota basis:
the Director would therefore be left without any support in the functions of
that post, and this in our view is not a situation which could be sustained.
We recommend that there should be a post of deputy at ALC6+, the portfolio of
which would be at the discretion of the Director. A title such as Associate
Director of University Library Services would signal the status of the post
when deputising for the Director ad hoc or on a regular basis in representing
the Library Service at meetings of university or external bodies. We envisage
the post being held by a professional librarian.

An alternative management model
(see Appendix)

9 Like Thomas, we attach the utmost importance to
ensuring that the management structure of an integrated library system
is—and is perceived to be—a new management entity and not a revamped
Bodleian management imposed on other libraries. Their responses to Thomas show
that two large faculties, English and Modern History, notwithstanding emphasis
to the contrary in the report, see the Thomas proposals as a Bodleian
takeover. The model which we have developed on the basis of the suggestion in
Thomas depends, however, upon a restructuring of the previous management
entities–Bodleian, Taylorian, Ashmolean, and so on—in order to
create what we recommend should be called the Oxford University Library
Service, which although managerially integrated would still allow parts to
retain a recognisable identity as historical collections housed in particular

Ensuring that the new structure remains outside the gravitational pull of
what was previously there will depend on:

  • the lead given by the new Director;
  • a devolved and decentralised management style in close contact with users;
  • active user groups and subject committees providing academic and user
    input to library management;
  • adequate funding.

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10 The following are the principal modifications we have
introduced into the model suggested in the Thomas Report. (We have also
specified a little more fully in our diagram the various activities for which
the individual divisions would be responsible.)

(a) A post of Associate Director of University Library Services
(as stated above). We see the heads of the various divisions either reporting
to the Director through the Associate Director, or reporting in parallel to
both. In either case the aim would be that the Associate
Director—although not in charge of a division—should be sufficiently
close to the divisional ground to afford the Director real support in
discharging the ultimate responsibilities of that post for the management of
the system as a whole. In our model, we have suggested a possible planning and
project development brief for the Associate Director.

(b) Reorganisation of the subject-based divisions according to the
accepted broad divisions of academic research—Humanities, Social
Sciences, Science/Medicine.

Para. 6.3 of the Thomas Report addresses the integration of
departmental/General Board libraries. We think that it will be in the interest
of the departmental collections, of the library staff in question, and of the
effective delivery of services, for them to be incorporated sooner rather than
later into the integrated structure, and that the opportunity should be taken
to start including them at the outset rather than confining the initial
operation to Libraries Board libraries. Additionally, any new library
developments in the future should be incorporated in the integrated system.

The allocation of individual subjects to one of the three divisions is
an administrative convenience which should not however stifle
interdisciplinary provision. The Director of University Library Services and
the heads of division will have the responsibility of ensuring that this does
not happen, and we would envisage the Director having a special budgetary
allocation to support interdisciplinary and interdivisional developments.

(c) Reconfiguration of elements in the Research Library Services
Division to take greater account of the distribution of research collections
and existing research provision outside the Bodleian. This entails:

  • creation of a Special Collections Division which incorporates Western
    Manuscripts and covers special collections throughout the integrated system;
  • creation of a Reader Services Division responsible for collection
    management (as distinct from collection development, which would fall under
    the Special Collections and subject-based divisions).

(d) Redistribution between two distinct divisions, (1)
Administration and (2) Technical Services, of activities placed in `Central
and Technical Services' in the Thomas model.

(e) The grouping of certain functions in a Technical Services
Division does not in our view imply the imposition of rigidly centralised
procedures. In line with the degree of devolution envisaged in an integrated
system by the Thomas Report it must continue to be possible for site
librarians to respond to urgent demand from readers by making `off the shelf'
purchases. Cataloguing could also continue to be undertaken throughout the
system as at present on OLIS, with catalogue maintenance and support available
from a central resource. Similarly, as regards the inclusion of binding in
this division, we are not proposing that there must be central decisions on
what material is bound, when, and by whom; but we do intend that there should
be central advice and expertise available; and it may be that this will edge
the system towards the development and widespread use of a central facility
capable of coping with an increased volume of work.

(f) Legal deposit functions will also be located within Technical
Services as a specialised branch of acquisitions processing. (It is currently
part of the Bodleian Acquisitions and Collection Development Section.) The
selection of legal deposit material for open shelves would be the
responsibility of staff in the subject divisions, and location of the
remainder would be the responsibility of Reader Services as part of collection

Grading and location of senior staff

11 The present post of Bodley's Librarian (which is
super-scale) aside, there are currently seven ALC6 library posts in Oxford:
four keeperships in the Bodleian (the Secretaryship of the Bodleian was
formerly ALC6 but on Dr Mould's retirement the post was restructured and is
now ALC5), the Ashmolean and the Taylor Librarians, and the Director of Health
Care Libraries. Relative to other institutions this number is on the high
side. Comparison with other major libraries suggests ALC5 as the basic grade
for heading a division in the longer term, but in the special circumstances of
Oxford ALC6 could be appropriate in some cases. We think that in the longer
term the number of established ALC6 posts should be not more than five. The
timescale in which the existing ALC6 posts are due to fall in through
retirement could have been far more of a constraint in terms of restructuring
opportunities and costs than in fact is the case. In the next decade only four
ALC4/5 posts are due to become vacant by retirement.

Other things being equal, we should expect many of the newly created
posts to be filled from within the University, and this should facilitate
restructuring though vested interests in specific grades would have to be
protected. Nor, we believe, should consideration of the staff establishment
for an integrated system be confined to senior academic-related posts: the
Libraries Board has for some time been reviewing staff establishments in the
clerical library grades in its libraries (with some comparative examples from
General Board and college libraries) to assess their adequacy and consistency
across the libraries for which it is responsible. The need to accomplish such
a review for an integrated system would, in our view, be more urgent, but
also, in fact, more straightforward in an integrated system.

12 In view of the need to resolve the tensions that have
arisen under the current arrangements, the location of the senior management
posts will have an important symbolic force. We recommend that the locations
of the offices of the senior management team should be distributed, perhaps as
shown below. If in due course there is a major library development on part of
the Radcliffe Infirmary site, that too would provide a suitable location.

Director of University Library Services         Clarendon Building
Assistant Director                              Clarendon Building
Head of Administrative Division                 Clarendon Building

Head of Technical Services                      New Bodleian

Head of Reader Services                         Old Bodleian
Head of Special Collections                     Old Bodleian

Head of Humanities                              Ashmolean/Taylorian site

Head of Social Sciences                         St Cross site

Head of Science/Medicine                        Radcliffe Science Library

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Treatment of current and impending vacancies

13 Where an impending vacancy can be identified as a key
post in the context of the restructuring, it should not be filled without
input from the Director-elect. We do not think that this need result in any
serious planning blight, since the identity of the new Director could be known
by as early as April 1996 if decisions are taken allowing the post to be
advertised at the beginning of 1996. Nor do we believe that it would be
necessary to introduce a moratorium on filling of middle-management posts as
long as in making appointments and drawing up contracts regard is had to the
possibility of restructuring.

14 However, the post of Librarian of the Taylor
Institution, which falls vacant from 1 September 1996, is clearly a key post
which could be restructured to head the proposed Humanities Division. (We do
not think that the Head of the Humanities Division could be expected to be
responsible for the day-to-day management of the present Taylor Library, which
would have to be the subject of separate consideration by the Director of
University Library Services.) We therefore recommend that the impending
vacancy vice Barber should not be advertised until, first, it is known whether
the University approves the recommended move to an integrated library
structure with a Director of University Library Services at its head, and,
secondly, in that event, until an appointment has been made to the
Directorship, and it is possible to involve the Director-elect in an
appointment in succession to Mr Barber.

Committee structure

15 We endorse the replacement of the Libraries Board and
the Curators of the Bodleian with a single body to which the Director of
Library Services is formally responsible and to which the Director will submit
policies for approval, which will be involved in making senior appointments,
and which it is vitally important should, mutatis mutandis, inherit the
statutory responsibility of the Bodleian Curators `to maintain the Bodleian
Library not only as a university library but also as an institution of
national and international importance'. However, the proposed title `Library
Board' is in our view unsatisfactory. The aim should be to signal clearly the
difference of what is now proposed from both the existing Libraries Board and
the body proposed by the Nicholas Report (also the Library Board). We suggest
that `University Library Committee' would achieve the desired effect.

16 The Thomas Report does not say to which body this new
committee reports. In our view it should report jointly to Council and the
General Board; and in bidding for funds it should have direct access to the
Resources Committee.

17 It will be important to have external representation
on the University Library Committee. Bodley's Librarian points out that the
experience of having a Curator from outside the University has been very
helpful. It has been standard practice on the Curators of the University
Chest. External representation would, moreover, be appropriate in view of the
status of Oxford's collections as a national resource. Also we think that
there should be at least one external member with experience of running a
major research library, who can bring an independent source of professional
and technical expertise to the deliberations of the University Library
Committee. (This is important in view of the ultimate executive authority
envisaged for this body—#Thomas, para. 6.12.) Involvement in the work of the
University Library Committee would, however, represent a heavy commitment to a
working university librarian and would need to be remunerated. We recommend
that of the three persons appointed by the Hebdomadal Council at least one
should be a member of Council, at least one a member of the Resources
Committee, and one an external member. At least one of the three persons
appointed by the General Board should also be an external member. (By
external, we mean not employed by the University or a college, since the
persons appointed might well be members of Convocation.)

18 With regard to the proposed membership of a fellow-
librarian of a college elected by the Committee of College Librarians, it has
been suggested that it is anomalous that this particular group of librarians
should have representation on the University Library Committee whereas
university librarians are specifically excluded. While taking this point, we
nevertheless think that the Thomas Committee was correct to seek structural
expression of the fact that, although college library provision is outside the
control of the University, it is a crucial element in the way that provision
is made overall for students, which HEFCE looks at as a whole. The opportunity
should be taken to consolidate progress that has been made to date in
increasing liaison and co-ordination between college and university provision.
We therefore recommend that the college representation should be expressed as
`one person, with experience of managing a college library, elected by the
Conference of Colleges'.

19 Furthermore `the provision of university-wide services
such as library automation and electronic media, preservation, and staff
development' (Thomas, para. 6.7) means that it will be important to carry over
into the new arrangements the Libraries Board's now well-established practice
of securing the involvement of college library interests in subcommittees
covering either services provided to colleges or areas (such as subject
provision) in which co-operation and co-ordination between university and
college providers are desirable or necessary. It seems clear to us that,
effectively, this will entail college involvement across almost the full range
of activities comprehended in the integrated structure.

20 The Thomas Report proposes (para. 6.12) that
professional library staff can be in attendance as required at meetings of the
University Library Committee. We endorse the importance of this provision.

21 The Thomas proposals allow for the continuation of individual subject
committees that provide faculty input to policy and a direct channel of
communication with library staff by which users can comment on the adequacy of
provision and services. In addition to these subject committees there will be
a need for user groups corresponding to the Reader Services and Special
Collections Divisions in our suggested structure.

We make the point in para. 9 that the operation of the subject
committees and user groups will be crucial to the success of the integrated
system. They will advise those who are responsible for managing the system on
what provision and disposition of material are required by the needs of
teaching and research in their respective areas. It will be the responsibility
of the Director of University Library Services to make budgetary allocations
to the various subjects but those decisions will be made on the basis of
management information which will include the views of faculties, etc. on
academic needs. (In passing, we note that the management of trust funds, about
which concern has been expressed, does not seem to us to raise problems of
substance. Where management of a trust fund is vested in a body which is not
affected by the structural changes, e.g. a faculty board, that will continue
to be the case. Where it is proposed that the management body should be
discontinued, e.g. the Bodleian Curators, the alternative arrangements for
administering the fund will have to be such that they accomplish the
objectives of the trust.)

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Other matters

22 As mentioned in the introduction, various other points outside our strict
remit came up in discussion and Council may wish to take account of them when
considering responses to the Thomas Report.

23 Nomenclature. The recommendation that the integrated library structure
should be called `the Bodleian Library' has aroused some opposition from non-Bodleian library staff. We accept—as does the Thomas Report—that
there are arguments on both sides: principally, on the one hand, the need to
avoid giving credibility to any suggestion that the new arrangements represent
a `Bodleian takeover', and, on the other, the historic significance of the
name `Bodleian'. We agree that the title of Bodley's Librarian should be
retained by the new senior post, but recommend that, given the aim of the
proposed restructuring, the natural order in the title would be `Director of
University Library Services and Bodley's Librarian' and the name of the
integrated structure `The Oxford University Library Service'. Within that
service, the name of the Bodleian can continue to refer to the buildings to
which it originally applied, namely Duke Humfrey's Library and the buildings
of the Old (and New) Bodleian. Regarding what is said in para. 6.10 of the
Thomas Report about avoiding the risk of jeopardising the legal deposit
privilege, we draw attention to the fact that the terms of the 1911 Copyright
Act accord the right to claim material to `the authority having the control of
each of
the following libraries, namely: the Bodleian Library, Oxford ...'
(our italics).

24 Qualifications for the post of Director of
University Library Services
. We
endorse the essential qualifications identified in recommendation (ix) of the
Thomas Report. While accepting that the formulation `substantial experience of
high-level managerial responsibility in major libraries or comparable
organisations' was designed in order not to rule out applications from
candidates who either are not professionally qualified as librarians or have
not previously held a managerial post in a library, we affirm the view that
library experience and qualifications would be strongly desirable in the
holder of the post and that their absence would need to be powerfully
compensated for by other qualities. We also suggest that the phrase should be
amplified to read `comparable institutions such as museums or galleries'. We
assume that it was thought necessary to single out an awareness of
technological and IT developments on the grounds that an appreciation of the
requirements for managing major historic collections could be taken as read.
It would, however, be desirable to be explicit about this in the further

25 We also think it vital that the person appointed should have those skills
of personnel management that are required to manage large-scale change. The
Director must be able to gain the confidence and support of staff in the task
of restructuring.


26 Within the structure we have outlined the Director of University Library
Services should—in line with what the Thomas Report says about the need
for the new structure to accommodate the need to delegate more executive
responsibility to librarians—have adequate executive authority to design
and manage change. Although the Director will have to have some latitude in
implementing details of the structure, he or she must be prepared to work
within a framework which makes clear the post's position at the head of
integrated, university-wide services, for all aspects of which the Director
has responsibility.

27 Candidates for the post of Director can justifiably expect the University
to provide clear statements on:

  • the aims and objectives of the new library service;
  • the remit of the new University Library Committee;
  • the job description itself.

These statements will need to have been prepared in time for when the post is
advertised at the beginning of 1996 should its establishment be approved by
Congregation later this term. Since, in the present report, we have progressed
beyond some of the Thomas recommendations in terms of detailed implementation,
Council might think it most practical to request us to draft the statements

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Summary of recommendations

(1) Advisory group's report to be published prior to discussion in
Congregation (para. 4).

(2) Alternative divisional structure (paras. 9 and 10, and Appendix).

(3) Early incorporation of appropriate departmental libraries and any new
library developments into the integrated structure (para. 10 (b)).

(4) Deputy post (Associate Director of University Library Services)
(paras. 8 and 10 (a)).

(5) ALC5 as basic grade for heading a division (para. 11).

(6) Distributed locations for senior management posts (para. 12).

(7) Moratorium on refilling any key posts pending involvement of Director-
elect in appointments. Post of Librarian of the Taylor Institution to be
included in the moratorium (paras. 13 and 14).

(8) Rename proposed `Library Board' as `University Library Committee'
(para. 15).

(9) University Library Committee to report jointly to Council and the
General Board and to have direct access to the Resources Committee (para. 16).

(10) University Library Committee to have two external members, at least
one of whom should have experience of running a major research library (para.

(11) College representation on the University Library Committee should be
`one person, with experience of managing a college library, elected by the
Conference of Colleges' (para. 18).

(12) Formation of user groups for Reader Services and Special Collections
(para. 21).

(13) New senior post to be called `Director of University Library Services
and Bodley's Librarian' (para. 23).

(14) The integrated system to be known formally as the Oxford University
Library Service, with `the Bodleian' referring to certain constituent
buildings (paras. 9 and 23).

(15) Further specifications for the post (paras. 24 and 25).

(16) Preparation of the job description and other statements (para. 27).








                           SERVICES AND BODLEY'S LIBRARIAN

                                 ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
                          (Planning and project development)
  |           |           |           |            |           |          |   
 [A]         [B]         [C]         [D]          [E]         [F]        [G] 

 (See below for key)

    ^         ^         ^         ^         ^        ^         ^         ^
    |         |         |         |         |        |         |         |


[A]: Administation


Staff training





Performance indicators, service-level agreements, etc.

Public relations



Internal communications

[B]: Technical Services

Acquisitions processing (including legal deposit intake)

Cataloguing support



IT (platform/technical support)

[C]: Reader Services

Co-ordination of reading-room staff system-wide

Collection management

IT (content/reader support)

Inter-library loan

Training of readers

Admissions/opening hours/visitors

General bibliographic and reference collections

Book delivery/shelving

[D]: Special Collections

Wester MSS.

Pre-1850 printed books

Other special collections



[E]: Humanities; [F]: Social Sciences; [G]: Science and Medicine

Collection development and subject-based reader services

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