Report on Staffing Issues in Preservation Programs

Prepared for the PLMS Preservation
Management Committee (PMC)
by the Task Force on Staffing Issues
March, 1994

Background

At the 1991 ALA Annual Conference, the PLMS (Preservation of Library Materials Section) Preservation Management Committee (PMC) expressed interest in having information gathered about staffing in preservation programs. A task force was appointed shortly thereafter to investigate this issue. The task force began by examining statistical information about staffing, including the ARL (Association of Research Libraries) statistics. It also collected and examined job descriptions and organizational charts from a number of libraries. While this latter group of material was of some use in understanding staffing levels and kinds of positions common in a small cross-section of libraries, the task force felt that more specific information was needed. Thus, in 1993 at the ALA Midwinter Meeting, the task force proposed to PMC that a survey be sent to managers of preservation programs that would gather the kind of information that would more clearly identify some of the key factors that influence the staffing of preservation programs. A draft survey was presented at that time and approved.

Survey Group

There is no complete listing of preservation programs. The task force decided to survey members of the ALA PLMS Preservation Administrators Discussion Group (PADG) because members of this group are involved with preservation management and staffing on a full-time basis. (Criteria to be a member of this group is that an individual must spend 100% of their time on preservation and they must have staff who report to them, also individuals must be members of ALA.) The cross over with ARL members is strong; of the 55 PADG members only eight did not work in ARL affiliated institutions, or 14% of the group. However PADG is not a complete membership of full time preservation managers, rather it is a self identified group within ALA members. In April 1993, the survey was sent to all 55 members of this group (see appendix for list of PADG institutions). [Appendix not included in this electronic version.]

"This survey is designed to gather information about the development of preservation programs in libraries, about staffing levels in those programs, and about the way in which staff effort is directed within programs. It is initially being distributed to PADG members, with the request that you take the time to complete the survey and return it in the envelope provided."

Survey Design

The survey contained several basic questions about the preservation administrator and the size of the collection and the age and size of the preservation program, as well as the types of activities under the direction of the preservation department to provide a context in which to frame staffing issues. A series of question followed that asked respondents to identify factors that have influenced preservation program development over the past three years. Final questions asked about the future.

Results

Response to the survey was very good; by the end of April the task force had received 46 responses (83.6%). Since not all respondents answered all questions, nulls were used so that the percentages were always based on the same total number, 46.Because of small numbers in categories, question four was recoded into four categories. The number of respondents by collection size follows:

TABLE 1
RESPONDENTS BY COLLECTION SIZE

Collection size by vol.

Number of respondents
n=46

% of total

under 2 mil

9

19.6

2 up to 3 mil

19

41.3

3 up to 5 mil

8

17.4

5 mil & over

10

21.7

The large number of respondents in the two up to three million volume category needs to be considered when evaluating the results. The actual number of preservation programs in the country does not necessarily reflect this proportion.

Some correlation can be drawn from questions 1, 2, 3 and 4, which have to do with size of collection, (Q4), age of program (Q2 and Q3) and years in the profession (Q1). It appears that a higher number of people who have been in the profession over 5 years dominant in the oldest programs and in libraries with the largest collections. It should also be noted that over half (56.5%) of the respondents (26) have been in the profession for five or more years. See Tables 2 and 4).

TABLE 2
YEARS WORKED AS A PRESERVATION PROFESSIONAL BY SIZE OF COLLECTION ADMINISTERED

Years in Preservation

Collection Size

 

under 2 mil
N=9

2 up to 3 mil
n=19

3 up to 5 mil
n=8

5 mil & over
n=10

1 up to 3

22.2%

10.5%

25%

10%

3 up to 5

33.3%

42.1%

0

20%

5 or more

44.4%

47.4%

75%

70%

Table 2 shows that the majority of professionals in the field for 3 or more years are predominate in the 2-2.99 mill collections, while the people longest in the profession dominate in the largest collections. It is interesting to note that the newest professionals are not only in the smallest sized collections that have preservation programs, but space out in an interesting pattern that jumps from smallest to next to largest collections size category.

Question 3c was manipulated to infer the age of all programs rather than just the age of programs started by the respondent.

TABLE 3
AGE OF PRESERVATION PROGRAMS SURVEYED

Age of Program

0 up to 3 years

3 up to 5 years

5 or more years

Respondents

9

8

29

% of total

19.6%

17.4%

63%

TABLE 4
YEARS WORKED AS A PRESERVATION PROFESSIONAL
BY AGE OF PROGRAM SUPERVISED

Years in preservation

Age of Program

 

0 up to 3 years
n=9

3 up to 5 years
n=8

5 or more years
n=29

1 up to 3

44.4%

0.0

10.3%

3 up to 5

22.2%

62.5%

20.7%

5 or more

33.3%

37.5%

69.0%

Table 4 shows that the oldest programs are distinguished by having the more experienced staff with more than two-thirds of the oldest programs having administrators with 5 or more years of experience. The youngest programs have the least experienced administrators with two-thirds of those programs having less than five years experience. Cross tabulation was then done between size of collection and age of preservation program.

TABLE 5
AGE OF PROGRAM BY COLLECTION SIZE

Age of Program

Collection by Volume Number

 

under 2 mil
n=9

2-2.99 mil
n=19

3-4.99 mil
n=8

5 mil & over
n=10

0 up to 3 yrs n=9

22.2%

26.3%

12.5%

10.0%

3 up to 5 yrs n=8

22.2%

21.1%

00.0%

20.0%

5 or more yrs n=29

55.6%

52.6%

87.5%

70.0%

Table 5 shows that all the programs, no matter what their collection size have been in existence for five or more years. This heavy concentration of older programs may be a result of the group surveyed. While membership in PADG is theorically open to all full time preservation administrators, there is a self selection since only people who belong to ALA, and who attend meetings are actually listed as members of PADG..

Survey question 5 asked about the numbers and types of staffing levels both for permanent and grant supported positions. The average number of staffing is included in Table 6 as well as minimum and maximum. Table 7 shows the average staffing levels by size of collection.

TABLE 6
STAFFING LEVELS IN PRESERVATION PROGRAMS

Job classification

minimum FTE

maximum FTE

average FTE

perm professional

1

14

2.54

perm para-professional

0

25

6.10

perm student

0

20

3.30

 

grant professional

0

03

0.31

grant para-professional

0

15

1.90

grant student

0

10

0.62

Analysis of variance for staffing crossed with size of collection showed significance only in the para-professional categories, both permanent and grant funded. Significance for both permanent and grant funded para-professional positions was .0000.

TABLE 7
STAFFING AVERAGES BY COLLECTION SIZE

Collection Size

Permanent FTE

Grant Funded FTE

 

prof.

para.

student

prof.

para.

student

< 2 mil. n=9

2.25

4.05

3.62

.22

.33

0

2-2.99 mil. n=19

1.88

3.96

3.18

.14

.64

.97

3-4.99 mil. n=8

2.71

6.64

3.14

.31

.88

.12

5 or >5 mil. n=10

3.92

11.69

3.44

.94

.94

.90

When the number of staff is crossed with the age of program, as shown in Table 8, again there are interesting results for the largest range of staffing occurs in the 3 to 5 year category and not in the oldest programs. The middle aged programs have the largest average number of staff generally, while the oldest programs have the largest number of student workers. (Numbers in parens show minimum and maximum staff numbers; largest average is underlined).

TABLE 8
STAFFING CLASSIFICATION BY AGE OF PRESERVATION PROGRAM

Job classification

Program Age

FTEs (min/max) Avg

0 up to 3 years
n=9

3 up to 5 years
n=8

5 or more years
n=29

profession perm

(1-2)

1.416

(1-14)

2.87

(1-6)

2.80

para-prof perm

(.5-8.4)

5.155

(2-25)

6.53

(0-15)

6.31

student perm

(0-20)

4.388

(0-11)

1.98

(0-15)

6.35

grant profession

(0-.75)

.833

(0-2)

.62

(0-3)

.29

grant para-prof

(0-2)

.416

(0-15)

2.46

(0-15)

2.24

grant student

(0-1)

.111

(0-2)

.50

(0-10)

.81

Question 7 becomes more interesting when cross-tabulated with collection size (question 4). The largest percentage in each factor category is underlined. Table 9 includes only major influence, Table 10 indicates the moderate influence factors.

TABLE 8
TABLE 9
FACTORS WITH MAJOR INFLUENCE BY SIZE OF COLLECTION

Major Influence Factors

under 2 mil
n=9

2-2.99 mil
n=19

3-4.99 mil
n=8

5 or >5 mil
n=10

Internal funding

77.8%

78.9%

87.5%

90.0%

External funding

33.3%

50.0%

37.5%

80.0%

Institutional agenda

 

27.8%

12.5%

10.0%

Library agenda

55.6%

52.6%

75.0%

70.0%

Space issues

33.3%

36.8%

62.5%

20.0%

Traditional model

11.1%

15.8%

00.0%

11.1%

Collection issues

44.4%

31.6%

75.0%

80.0%

Internal funding is a major influence for all collection sizes, while external funding most affects the largest collections, though the percentage of 2-2.99 million marking internal funding as a major influence is also significant. What does this say about where external funding dominates? Library agenda is a greater factor for collections over 3 million, while space issues are most influential in the collections of 3-4.99 million. Collections issues are strong considerations for the largest collections.

Moderate influence also shows trends when seen within the framework of collection size as seen in Table 10. Institutional agenda has a significant affect on larger collections, but traditional models show a significant affect on collections under 5 million volumes.

TABLE 10
FACTORS WITH MODERATE INFLUENCE BY SIZE OF COLLECTION

Moderate Influence Factors

< 2 mil
n=9

2-2.99 mil
n=19

3-4.99 mil
n=8

5 & 5+ mil
n=10

Internal funding

22.2%

15.8%

12.5%

10.0%

External funding

33.3%

00.0%

37.5%

00.0%

Institutional agenda

33.3%

22.2%

50.0%

50.0%

Library agenda

33.3%

26.3%

25.0%

30.0%

Space issues

33.3%

10.5%

25.0%

50.0%

Traditional model

77.8%

57.9%

75.0%

22.2%

Collection issues

44.4%

57.9%

25.0%

20.0%

Institutional agenda has a significant affect on larger collections, but traditional models show a significant affect on collections under 5 million volumes.

The final questions were intended to suggest trends in both the positive and negative influences on program development. To be significant however a longer period of time needs to be considered. It is probably significant that internal funding predominated as both a positive and negative influence, that factor appearing as the most significant influence in 1991-92 and 1992-93. External funding was anticipated as being the most positive factor in 1993-94. Large numbers of respondents did not categorize secondary and tertiary factors. The complete survey with answers by percent follows.

Preservation Management and Staffing Survey

1. How many years have you been in the field of preservation management?
n=46

a) < 1:

.0%

b) 1 up to 3:

15.2%

c) 3 up to 5:

28.3%

d) > 5:

56.5%

2. How many years have you managed your present preservation program?
n=46

a) < 1:

15.2%

b) 1 up to 3:

26.1%

c) 3 up to 5:

23.9%

d) > 5:

34.8%

3. Did you:

a) start your current program ?
n=46

yes

56.5%

no

43.5%

b) assume responsibility for an existing program?
n=46

yes

43.5%

no

56.5%

c) if you answered "yes" to 3b, then identify the age of the program:
n=20

1 up to 3 years:

5%

3 up to 5 years:

5%

5 up to 7 years:

15%

7 up to 10 years:

25%

> 10 years:

50%

4. Please identify the collection size for which you provide preservation services:
n=46

a) < 1 million volumes:

2.2%

b) 1 up to 2 million volumes:

17.4%

c) 2 up to 3 million volumes:

41.3%

d) 3 up to 5 million volumes:

17.4%

e) > 5 million volumes:

21.7%

5. Please identify the number of FTE staff in your preservation department (for definition of professional and para-professional see cover letter). Count yourself as one. (averages only)
n=46

 

Permanent FTE

Grant Funded FTE

 

prof.

para.

student

prof.

para.

student

< 2 mil.

2.25

4.05

3.62

.22

.33

0

2-3 mil.

1.88

3.96

3.18

.14

.64

.97

3-5 mil.

2.71

6.64

3.14

.31

.88

.12

>5 mil.

3.92

11.69

3.44

.94

.94

.90

6. Below is a list of the activities most often performed in preservation departments. On the basis of staff time dedicated to each activity, please rank the five activities to which the most staff time is devoted, (1 being the most time, 2 being the second most time, etc.) Please provide rankings for each of the three staff categories using the definition from question 5.

TABLE 11
PRESERVATION ACTIVITIES PERFORMED BY STAFFING CATEGORY
n=46

Activity

professional

para-professional

student

Administration

1-82.6%

5-10.9%

---

Commercial Binding

---

1-30.4%
2-28.3%

2-17.4%
3-13%
5-8.7%

Conservation

Special Coll

4-19.6%

---

---

General Coll

2-23.9%
3-21.7%

2-28.3%
3-21.7%

1-23.9%

Environ Control

---

---

---

Emergency prep

5-15.2%

---

---

Mass Deacidification

---

---

---

Replace/Reformat

5-15.2%

---

4-10.9%

Shelf Prep

---

4-17.4%

2-17.4%

Stack Maintenance

---

---

---

Staff Training

---

---

---

User Awareness

---

---

---

Other

---

---

---

7. Please rate the influence of the following factors on your preservation program:
n=46

 >

No Influence

Minimal Influence

Moderate Influence

Major Influence

Internal funding

0%

2.2%

15.2%

82.6%

External funding

4.4%

31.1%

13.3%

51.1%

Instit. agenda

22.2%

26.7%

35.6%

15.6%

Library agenda

0%

10.9%

28.3%

60.9%

Space issues

17.4%

19.6%

26.1%

37%

Traditional models

6.7%

24.4%

57.8%

11.1%

Coll. issues

0%

6.5%

41.3%

52.2%

8. In the last fiscal year, 1991-92, rank the three factors (use from question 7) that had the most positive influence on the development of your program:
n=41

1. internal funding (26.1%), external funding (26.1%)
2. internal funding (26.1%)
3. collection issues (26.1%)

In the last fiscal year, 1991-92, rank the three factors (use from question 7) that had the most negative influence on the development of your program:
n=40

1. internal funding (32.6%)
2. library agenda (21.7%)
3. space issues (15.2%)

9. In the current fiscal year 1992-93, rank the three factors that are having the most positive influence on the development of your program:
n=42

1. internal funding (28.3%), external funding (28.3%)
2. library agenda (26.1%)
3. library agenda (19.6%), collection issues (19.6), no answer (19.6%)

In the current fiscal year 1992-93, rank the three factors that are having the most negative influence on the development of your program:
n=39

1. internal funding (32.6%)
2. space issues (23.9%), no answer (28.3%)
3. no answer (41.3%)

10. For the fiscal year 1993-94, please anticipate the factors that will have the most positive influence on the development of your program:
n=41

1. external funding (29.3%)
2. library agenda (33.3%)
3. collection issues (30.3%)

For the fiscal year 1993-94, please anticipate the factors that will have the most negative influence on the development of your program:
n=41

1. internal funding (32.6%)
2. internal funding (19.6 %)
3. no answer (41.3%)

11. Please describe briefly how these factors will affect preservation staffing during the next fiscal year (1994-95):

A. Internal Funding:

B. External Funding:

C. Institutional Agenda:

D. Library Agenda:

Space Issues:

F. Traditional Preservation Models:

G. Collection Issues:

Other

Conclusion

The task force hopes that the information gained from this investigation will be of use to the committee in it's deliberations on the issue of staffing in preservation programs. The task force believes that this data has the potential for providing insight into staffing issues in preservation programs of all sizes and types. Toward this end, the task force encourages the PMC to consider one of the following future actions: Option 1: That an abstract of the work reported herein be submitted to the Journal of Library Resources and Technical Services (LRTS) for publication. Option 2: That the survey instrument be revised and sent to a larger number of preservation managers. If this option is selected, it is recommended that the information contained herein be submitted to LRTS in the form of an interim research report with mention that an expanded survey is being prepared that will target a larger audience. The task force believes that support for mailing, computer time, etc., will be necessary if this option is selected.

At ALA Midwinter 1994 the PMC accepted the task force report, decided that further surveying was not necessary and voted to distribute the report to the PADG membership. Publication is also being pursued.

Final Version April, 1994

Task Force members were:

Mark Roosa, Huntington Library;
Carla Montori, University of Michigan Library;
Jeanne Drewes, Pittsburgh Regional Library Center.

Taken from the memo that accompanied the survey (see appendix for complete text).

Appendix contains a copy of the survey form and accompanying cover letter.

[Appendix not included in this electronic version.]


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