Introduction and Context
The Claremont Colleges Digital Library (CCDL) is a core division of the Claremont University Consortium (CUC). The CUC provides library services to seven undergraduate and graduate liberal arts colleges in California; the CCDL was established as a means of addressing demand and need for digital collections by each institution. As the CUC library services division serves multiple institutions, and does not “belong to any single college,” its organizational structure must be optimized to address all these institutions simultaneously (Crane, 3). In this report, I will examine the CUC and CCDL organizational design, and discuss if the structure supports quality digital collection services to each institution.
Critique and Implications
Below, I have created a simplified organizational chart based on the CUC’s Library Org Chart 2-21-19:
From this chart, it is clear that the CUC’s library services are functionally departmentalized; the library organizes “work and workers into separate units responsible for completing particular tasks” (Williams, 2015, p. 180). Expanding on this definition in context, this means that the workers in the Special Collections Department are under the leadership of the “Director of Special Collections” and are coordinated in their efforts by the “Curatorial Team Leader” to complete tasks directly related to Special Collections. They would not, for instance, perform work related to Acquisitions, as this is done by the “Assistants” to the “Acquisitions Team Leader” who reports to the “Director of Collections & Technical Services.” Each worker is responsible for being a specialist in a certain area and performing tasks related to that specialization.
Further, from the chart, we are able to deduce that there is a clear chain of command; a clear, “vertical line of authority” that makes clear who reports to whom (Williams, p. 186). There is also unity of command, as each worker reports to only one manager. For instance, the “Resource Sharing Assistants” report to the “Resource Sharing Manager” and no one else; while the “Resource Sharing Manager” reports to the “Director of User Services” and no one else; and, finally, the “Director of User Services” reports to the Interim Dean, and no one else.
It is reasonable to assume, although not directly confirmed by the organizational chart, that there is both line and staff authority in this structure. Line authority is clear through titles: there are “Assistant Catalogers,” to the “Cataloging and Metadata Team Leader,” for instance. The title of “Team Leader” also suggests that teams exist which are commanded by these leads, and they follow the vertical line of authority. Staff authority can be deduced from the departmentalization and the Director of each department reporting to the “Interim Dean of the Library.” As each department depends on the other departments to function, it can be expected that the Interim Dean acts to coordinate efforts between them. Consider, for instance, that the Special Collections Department would rely on the Collections and Technical Services Department to purchase and provide the products that make up the Special Collections. The Directors of both departments would likely have the right to advise one another to aid the coordinated effort of securing Special Collections products that best serve the institutions of the CUC.
Notably, the CUC library division has a unique delegation practice to address their cross-institutional services; but this delegation exists in a violation to unity of command. The process can be visualized as below, created with reference to the Agreement Regarding the Claremont Colleges Library:
In the Agreement Regarding the Claremont Colleges (2019) this arrangement is described as “a dual reporting relationship” for the Dean of the Library, with the Dean of the Lead College, a position which rotates yearly to allow each institution to serve, in charge of “strategic direction” and the CEO in charge of “operations.” The rotating Dean of the Lead College is an interesting delegation practice because the “strategic direction,” the mission the organization will follow for each academic year, can shift to better serve one institution or another once a new delegate is selected. This ensures that each institution has an opportunity to drive the initiatives they consider most important. However, the dual reporting relationship described could easily create what Williams describes as “conflicting commands from two different bosses” for the Dean of the Library (p. 187). Imagine, for instance, that the Dean of the Lead College has put forth a strategic direction of major acquisitions to promote the CUC, perhaps a new series of rare special collections to promote the subjects taught at the lead college; the Dean of the Library may find this mission at odds with the Operations demands set forth by the CEO, which have a very limited budget for such projects. Whose demand should the Dean of the Library prioritize? In the current arrangement, this is unclear.
Conclusion and recommendation
Functional departmentalization is an organizational structure that serves the CUC and CCDL well because it creates specialization, and addressing specialized concerns is the aim of the CUC and CCDL. Colleges are places to develop concentrated areas of expertise, so functional departments are a way to ensure that each concentration receives specialized attention from management.
As a functionally departmentalized structure with a rather rigid chain of command, the CUC and CCDL will be best served if unity of command is maintained. In a highly structured environment, or mechanistic organization, it is important to have a clear understanding of your duties so you can serve your specialized role. In the case of the Dean of the Library, I anticipate confusion and gridlock occur where the Dean of the Lead College and the CEO may have different priorities. The ensuing confusion and competing reporting structure may lead to less than optimal performance on the part of the Dean of the Library, and create an environment where many important functions are not addressed. Consider, if the Dean of the Library prioritizes the CEO’s budget concerns, and goes against the Dean of the Lead College in my prior example: the faculty and students accessing the library would be unable to access any new collections that year, and this would undermine the ultimate mission of the CUC - to serve such patrons. Eliminating this dual-reporting process would eliminate this confusion, and likely improve the services the Dean of the Library was able to provide.
Academic Deans Committee. (2019). Agreement regarding the Claremont Colleges Library [PDF document]. Retrieved from http://library.claremont.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/2019-02-05-Library-Agreement.pdf
Claremont Colleges Library. (2019). Library Org Chart 2-21-19 [PDF document]. Retrieved from http://library.claremont.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Library-Org-Chart-2-21-19-for-web.pdf
Crane, L. (2011). The Claremont College Digital Library: A model for digital projects [PDF document]. Retrieved from http://ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/adl/id/53
Williams, C. (2015). MGMT8: Principles of Management. Cengage Learning.