Iwasaki Library experiences high turnover rates

Five resignations by Iwasaki Library staff over the past six months has resulted in two vacant positions and three positions filled by new employees, according to a college official.  

The resignations began this summer and continued until October, Library Executive Director Robert Fleming said. The vacated positions include a full-time digital access and metadata librarian and a part-time service desk coordinator.

Autumn Pattison, a junior who works at the library service desk as a student employee, said the multiple resignations happening in a short period of time are coincidental.

“We’ve had a high rate of turnover with people finding new positions,” Pattison said. “It’s mostly people who’ve been at the library a long time, and it just so happens that the timeline comes together in a way that they’re all finding new and better things at the same time.”

In the 2017 Emerson360: Community Climate Survey, 30 percent of the six librarians who participated responded positively to the statement “I understand the necessary requirements to advance my career at Emerson,” and 20 percent to “I am paid fairly for my work.” However, 71 percent of librarians responded positively to overall job satisfaction.

The three vacant positions earlier in the year include acquisitions manager, assistant access services manager, and interlibrary loans coordinator, with all full-time positions now filled by new staff members.

Aside from the initial five resignations, Fleming is also retiring at the beginning of fall 2019. After working at the Iwasaki Library for 35 years, Fleming said it is time for him to move on to responsibilities outside of libraries.

Fleming said he is prioritizing the search for a service desk coordinator because it is positioned at the front of the library and assists students, staff, and faculty, while the digital access and metadata librarian converts archives into a digital format.

He estimates the college will fill both positions by spring 2019.

The Iwasaki Library posted a job listing for service desk coordinator online at the beginning of November and plans to edit the job description for digital access and metadata librarian soon, according to Fleming.

Fleming said the position of digital access and metadata librarian is a position that’s only been around since 2015, and the college is still trying to perfect the responsibilities. The position was previously filled by Amy Bocko, who left to fill a similar position at Western Michigan University.

“Trying to find the best match between the position and the needs of the organization is something that we’re still working on,” Fleming said. “We’re almost done with the revision of the job description. Certainly, after the holidays, we’ll have the position posted.”

Document Delivery Supervisor Allison Boudreau, a part-time staff member, temporarily filled in as the interlibrary loans coordinator while the library searched for someone else to fill the full-time position. Boudreau received a pay raise for her increased workload, according to Boudreau.

Boudreau said there is a wait time of 10 to 14 days people can expect after requesting an interlibrary loan due to her working only five hours per week under this position. This is in contrast to the typical seven-day maximum wait period.

“It’s been challenging to balance working two jobs while also trying to help people meet their deadlines and get them the research they need from other institutions,” Boudreau said.

The Iwasaki Library filled the positions of assistant access services manager and acquisitions manager the earliest because these positions became vacant first.

The college hired new employees for both of the full-time positions on Sept. 4, according to Fleming.

The college formed a search committee after Fleming announced his retirement in November. The committee is comprised of eight representatives from different departments in the college, including the School of Communications, the School of the Arts, and the Iwasaki Library.

Dean of Liberal Arts Amy Ansell chairs the search committee and said the group wants a candidate who is creative and innovative and can build on the library’s strengths.

“We’re really looking for someone to build on Bob Fleming’s success and continue the trajectory that he’s set. We’re not looking for a big change of course, because everybody on this search committee and the people we’ve consulted thinks the library is already a fantastic resource,” Ansell said.

At the time of publication, the search committee had only met once to discuss their plans to search for a new director. They plan to form a group of candidates to consider at the beginning of the Spring 2019 semester, from which they will pick their ideal candidate for the position.

Ansell predicts the search committee will find a candidate to fill Fleming’s position by April 2019, based on the current timeline of their search.

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